KINGMAN - The Arizona Amateur Softball Association State B championships begin today at Centennial Park, and the Kingman Sidewinders play the role of host, with two squads vying for a coveted state title.
Twenty-seven teams are in town for the tournaments, which run through Sunday. The four separate tournaments consist of 10, 12, 14 and 16-and-under squads.
The 16U Sidewinders enter the tournament as the defending champions. Kingman went 3-0 last year to take the crown, but keeping the trophy in Kingman may be a little more difficult for the Sidewinders this season.
Sidewinders' coach Greg Book said starting center fielder Unica Bautista won't be playing this year because she's in California with her family.
"Basically, we'll be missing our team leader," Book said.
Bautista's absence isn't the only hurdle the Sidewinders will have to get over. Bianca Sapien, Kelsey Uhles and Kyra Williams are all nursing ankle injuries, and Tesla Morgan suffered a hand injury and was seen Wednesday wearing a brace.
"We're limping into this tournament," Book said.
"We're not 100 percent, but we'll go in and fight and see what happens. I don't care if we have to wheelchair it, we'll be out there."
The Sidewinders will also have a 14U squad coached by Dave Vance. Vance was named the Kingman High softball coach on May 22. This is the first tournament of the year for these Sidewinders.
"We got it going late," Vance said. "It's the first big tournament for these girls, and we're a little worried about how well they'll handle it."
Vance said his squad has been practicing hard and feels the Sidewinders have got the basic defenses covered.
"The thing that has impressed me is how hard they've been working," Vance said.
"They're excited to be out there, and they're a lot of fun to be around."
Vance is hopeful that by next year the Sidewinders will also have 10U and 12U teams as well.
The 16U Sidewinders begin their quest at 6 p.m. today on Field 3 against the Prescott Valley Voltage. The 14U Sidewinders play immediately following the 16U game against the Arizona Ambush, also of Prescott Valley.
The tournament continues at 8 a.m. Saturday and at 8 a.m. Sunday.