Central Community College - Columbus began the early summer with All-Star games featuring the best in the area from soccer, volleyball and basketball. Central closes its season of honoring local athletes on Thursday when softball players have their chance to shine.
Twenty-eight players from around the area will take the diamond at 5 p.m. on Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader.
A home run derby follows the first game before the teams meet again in game two.
The athletes in this year's competition are Lilly Cast, Shelby Ziegler, Brylee Barr, Lydia Hill, Erin Cook, and Keiley Tisthammer, Ragan Wood, Catherine Kempf, Meranda Kudrna, Bailey Oberhauser, Macee Alexander, Karlie Tisthammer, McKinley Josoff, Mylee Sheets on the Black Team.
Vanessa Bohuslavsky, Valerie Bohuslavsky, Macee Trotta, Sydney Strobel, Kaitlyn Hain, and Emma Williams, Morgan Carver, Sierra Meysenburg, Sierra Harrison, Cassidy Rieken, Kaylea Bailey, Riley Griffith, Alyssa Turner and Kassidy Soulliere make up the White Team.
The head coaches this year are Highway 91's Adam Indra for the Black Team and David City Aquinas' Paul Gahan for the White Team.
"It’s always fun to coach this event," Gahan said. "I think I’ve probably coached it four or five times over the past several years. The thing that I really enjoy is just seeing all the various girls from various schools and seeing all their talent come together and see if we can kind of turn them into a team for one night."
This year, the game is full of athletes going on to play college softball.
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"At least on our team, I think they’re a very talented group," Gahan said. "I think a good number of them are going on to play softball in college. There’s one girl, Macee Trotta, from Columbus High is playing softball and soccer at CCC."
One element that will make the night slightly more interesting than a normal varsity game is the turf field at Central, a new experience for many of the competitors.
"The other thing is the field," Gahan said. "Playing on that artificial turf. I know a lot of the girls were kind of hesitant. They didn’t know how the ball was going to react if it was hit. If it would be fast or slow. A lot of them were a little hesitant about how the field would play. That’s another interesting part of this.
With the artificial turf, you might think it would be hard and fast but it’s not. The balls can bounce a little bit, but the ground balls are kind of a slower infield kind of deal."
While each time is trying to come out ahead on the scoreboard, it's more than just wins and losses.
"(I'm excited) for them to get to know each other a little better and just for them to have a lot of fun and enjoy the experience," Gahan said.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org