Tigers learn from TOC experience
March 13, 2017
One of the priorities Sam Torres set after she took over as head coach of the Douglas High softball program last fall was to enter the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz.
Torres simply wanted the Tigers to see the same level of competition she had seen as a player for Freedom High (Oakley, Calif.) in 2006 — "That tournament was the reason we were ranked No. 1 in the nation at the end of the season," she said. This past weekend, the Tigers only managed to win one of their six games, however, Torres is confident the lessons learned will pay off when this season comes down to its homestretch in May.
"That's why we went to that tournament. We want to play the best to be the best," she said.
The TOC showcased 50-plus teams representing California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Nevada. The field included 10 teams in the Top 50 preseason national rankings.
"That is probably the best high school tournament in the nation, so it was definitely a learning weekend," Torres said.
The Tigers won their first game Thursday 7-0 over Greenway (Phoenix, Ariz.), then lost 9-0 to defending Arizona Division 1 champion Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) and 8-3 against West (Salt Lake City). On Friday, the Tigers lost 17-2 to Palo Verde (Las Vegas) and 5-3 against La Mirada, Calif., then dropped a 7-3 decision to California (Whittier, Calif.) on Saturday.
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"I know our team can compete against those teams we lost to. By the end of the season, we will be ready to play those types of teams, especially after playing all these teams."
Douglas opens it Northern 4A conference season Thursday at home with a 3:45 p.m. game against McQueen.
This will be a rematch between teams that split two games at last year's region tournament.
"Our team is ready to start league now and I think they're ahead of the game after facing the best of the best," Torres said.
Note: The 2006 Freedom High team that Sam (Bias) Torres played for went on to a 25-0 season and No. 1 national ranking. In 2013, the team was inducted into the Liberty Union School District Athletic Hall of Fame. The North Coast Section champion Falcons had 11 players go on to play college softball, including Bias, who in 2008 helped the Nevada Wolf Pack advance to the NCAA tournament. The star of the 2006 Freedom team was pitcher Amanda Williams, who put together a streak in which she threw three straight perfect games with 55 strikeouts. Williams later played at the University of Arizona.