Training players for Hillsborough County's high school rosters has been part of the job of the Tampa Mustangs program for nearly a quarter-century. This year is no different.
Players from the Mustangs' 12-and-under team will begin beefing up private school rosters next spring. Others will follow at public schools during the next two years.
While playing in tournaments almost every weekend this summer, the Mustangs have won five titles.
This week, the team is in Chattanooga, Tenn., for the National Softball Association World Series. More than 287 teams of all ages were signed to compete last week.
Manager Tom Arnold says 80 teams are in the Mustangs' 12-year-old age bracket.
"Our girls have a strong pitching corps and a tight defense," Arnold said. "There is a lot of talent on this team. I expect them to be in the hunt for the title in the NSA nationals."
Brittany Crabb, Brittany Cavalli and Kendall make up the pitching rotation. Cavalli has 82 strikeouts and 26 walks in 140 innings, Crabb has 81 strikeouts and 54 walks in 126 innings and Arnold has 42 strikeouts and 39 walks in 46 innings.
"All three have 50 mph fastballs," Arnold said. "We have a tough pitching rotation, with confidence to replace one another at any point of any game."
Covering the infield are Mallory Schreiber, Terra Hutcheson, Brooke Curtis and Sarah Varady.
First baseman Schreiber makes few errors, according to Arnold. Curtis, another sure glove, covers the gap at shortstop and Hutcheson is at second. Varady is a consistent fielder at third.
Outfielder Brittany Bell also fills in at third base while wreaking havoc on the basepaths. Catcher Amanda Patrick makes sure opponents don't have Bell's success stealing bases, boasting a strong arm.
In the outfield with Bell are Marisa Kritikson and Michelle Bradley. Arnold says all 11 players are versatile and can play most positions.