Killeen ISD kicks off its 2018 softball tournament today with Killeen, Harker Heights, Shoemaker and Ellison, participating in four separate pools, along with Gatesville and Florence.

Hornets head coach Jaime Villarrial has seen the tournament grow from 10 teams to 24 participating schools.

“I like a lot of games in a short amount of time,” Villarrial said of the tournament play allowing him to find early strengths and weaknesses his team may have. “I’m able to use different lineups and try players at different positions.”

Killeen head coach Randy James also sees the packed scheduled as a positive.

“The more games you get in,” he said, “the more experience you’re going to get.”

Considering how young the Lady Roos are with four seniors on the team, the more games they can get, the better.

With the growth of teams participating, ranging from Class 1A to 6A, the diverse competition helps teams prepare not just for district but a possible playoff run.

“It helps your team work on scenarios,” Villarrial said. “In my personal experience, I’ve coached against a lot of good teams in the tournament, and it helps up see where we are and who we could face.”

The broad range of teams that play is one of the benefits for these girls.

“The biggest thing is that it allows us to see different kinds of pitching,” James said. “Small teams have their own style, and that helps us offensively.

“Defensively, they’re going to put the ball in play, get more reps out on the field and be ready to battle for district.”

And neither coach is concerned about player fatigue.

James believes preparation in the offseason helps his team avoid concerns about burning out too soon from playing so many games.

As for Villarrial, this tournament just marks the beginning of the long season, “And our goal is to get in shape for district which starts in two weeks.

“The advantages outweigh the cons.”

He also plans to use the first tournament of the year as a bonding experience for his team, both on and off the field.

“We have activities and team meals,” Villarrial said. “This is a great start over the next three to four days.”

The Roos are looking for as many games as possible this weekend.

“The more games my bunch can get,” James said, “we’re going to be in.”

“It doesn’t matter what level.”

The three-day tournament will be held in two locations — the Harker Heights Complex and Lions Park.

Saturday’s schedule is determined by pool play results.

Pool 1

Killeen

Burnet

Waco Connally

Florence

McNeil

Manor

Pool 2

Harker Heights

Salado JV

China Springs

Bastrop

McCallum

Rogers

Pool 3

Shoemaker

Taylor

La Vega

Austin LBJ

Palestine

Rockdale

Pool 4

Ellison

Glenn

Gatesville

Gateway

Waco

Midway JV

Pflugerville Connally

Schedule

Thursday, Feb. 15

Play at Harker Heights Complex

9:00 a.m.

Field 2- Harker Heights vs. Bastrop

Field 4- Killeen vs. Florence

10:30 a.m.

Field 4- Harker Heights vs. Salado JV

12:00 p.m.

Field 2- Killeen vs. Burnet

1:30 p.m.

Field 1- Harker Heights vs. China Spring

Play at Lions Park

9:00 a.m.

Field 1- Ellison vs. Waco

Field 3- Gatesville vs. Pfl. Connally

Field 4- Shoemaker vs. Austin LBJ

10:30 a.m.

Field 3- Ellison vs. Glenn

Field 4- Gatesville vs. Waco

12:00 p.m.

Field 2- Shoemaker vs. Taylor

1:30 p.m.

Field 1- Ellison vs. Gatesville

Friday, Jan. 16

Play at Harker Heights Complex

9:00 a.m.

Field 2- Killeen vs. Waco Connally

Field 4- McNeil vs. Florence

10:30 a.m.

Field 3- Killeen vs. Manor

12:00 p.m.

Field 1- Harker Heights vs. Rogers

Field 3- Florence vs. Burnet

Field 4- Killeen vs. McNeil

1:30 p.m.

Field 1- Harker Heights vs. McCallum

Field 3- Florence vs. Manor

Play at Lions Park

9:00 a.m.

Field 1- Ellison vs. Gateway

Field 4- Shoemaker vs. La Vega

10:30 a.m.

Field 4- Midway JV vs. Gatesville

12:00 p.m.

Field 2- Shoemaker vs. Rockdale

1:30 p.m.

Field 1- Ellison vs. Pfl. Connally

Field 3- Glenn vs. Gatesville

Field 4- Shoemaker vs. Palestine

3:00 p.m.

Field 3- Ellison vs. Midway JV

4:30 p.m.

Field 1- Gatesville vs. Gateway

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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