KINGMAN - It has been a summer of steady progression for the 16-and-under Kingman Sidewinders softball team. The Sidewinders look to continue their march of progress by snaring the biggest prize possible, a tournament championship, when it takes on the 15-team field in the Arizona Amateur Softball Association's Best of the West Championships Friday through Sunday in Prescott.
"I think we have a good chance of winning," Sidewinders' veteran second baseman Kyra Williams said. "We've been working hard, and that should pay off in this tournament."
The Sidewinders have been practicing at 5:15 a.m. most mornings at Centennial Park. The early-morning workouts allow for the girls to put forth a better effort, coach Greg Book said.
"They may be getting a little tired," Book said. "But we'll be ready to play - no doubt about that."
This weekend's tournament will be the Sidewinders' fourth of the summer, and they are still looking for their first tournament win. Kingman tied for third in its May tournament in Pinetop, in June it took third in the ASA state championship tournament here in Kingman and moved up to second at the Triple Crown Series tournament July 3-4 in Tempe.
"They're playing good ball," Book said. "They just need to find that something to get over the hump to score that last run and get that last hit. I'd take this team into battle anywhere. They can compete with any team out there."
Kingman has seen almost 50 percent of the teams in the tournament already this season. These teams include the Prescott Lady Hawks, Prescott Valley Voltage, Goodyear Stingers, Arizona Ambush, Tucson Vipers and the Lake Havasu City Scorchers. It's the Scorchers who bring out Book's passion.
The Scorchers dropped the Sidewinders 4-3 in the state tournament, and though Book hopes to play some new teams, he'd love to see the Scorchers again.
"I love revenge games," Book said. "It doesn't matter to me who we play, but I do love seeing these kind of games. They're more than just softball games."
Kingman opens the tournament against the Tucson Bandits at 9 p.m. Friday.
"The Bandits are a pretty good team," Book said. "It will be a test right out of the gate, which I tend to like."
The 14-and-under Sidewinders will also be in Prescott, their second tournament of the season. The Sidewinders went 0-3 at the state tournament in June, and coach Dave Vance believes they are ready to put some notches in the win column this weekend.
"I have a feeling we'll do better," Vance said.
"It'll take them a while to get used to the big-game situation. It's not like we played badly, we just didn't get timely hits. They'll get better every game, and that comes from game experience."
The Sidewinders will have the same core of girls, though a couple of players have gone on vacation.
What's most impressive is the Sidewinders have three players who would be eligible to play on an U12 team.
"There's a lot of girls who have stepped up," Vance said. "They have all been working hard at practice."
Vance was going to make this the last tournament of the summer for these Sidewinders, but his players have changed his mind.
"The girls want to keep playing," Vance said. "We'll look for at least one more."
Kingman plays the Verde Valley Blaze at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round.