A Southwest Missouri 16-under softball team is picking up the victories in bunches this summer.


A Southwest Missouri 16-under softball team is picking up the victories in bunches this summer.

The Neosho Flames, coached by Millie Gilion, qualified for the ASA USA Fast Pitch National Championship tournament with a second place finish at a national qualifier tournament in Nebraska this summer.

The ASA USA Fast Pitch National Championship tournament will be played at College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University of the Big 12 Conference. The Flames are 50-8 so far this season.

The Neosho Flames feature a roster full of hometown and regional athletes. From Neosho, senior-to-be Brooke Hulsey and juniors-to-be Ashley Gilion and Catie Cummins are on the roster. Hulsey plays first base, right field and second place, while Cummins works behind the plate and plays right field, and Gilion sees time at shortstop and second base.

Other regional players on the Neosho Flames are Ashton Pratt and Hailey Turner of McDonald County High School; Brooke Swadley of Purdy High School; Shelby Stuck, Laney Kneib and Kyra Parker of Webb City High School, and Stantell Jewett of Joplin High School.

This summer, the Flames took first and second place in two tournaments in Tulsa, Okla., and won a tournament held recently in Kansas City.

The team is currently playing in the Fireworks tournament this week in Aurora, Colo.

On July 10-11, the Flames will play closer to home in a tournament in Carthage, followed by another tournament in Warrensburg, Mo., on July 17-18.

In a telephone interview from Colorado Tuesday, Gilion told the Daily News the goal for this year’s team was to play in as many high-level tournaments as possible to give the players exposure to college coaches.

“Since we are in the top age group, 16U, we are trying to go to all of the exposure tournaments,” Gilion said. “Our goal was to qualify for the ASA USA Fast Pitch National Tournament, and we reached our goal, because that’s where a lot of college coaches are going to be. This week, at the Fireworks tournament in Colorado, there are going to be more than 400 college coaches here.

“We are trying to get all of our players exposed, and try to help them get scholarships to four-year schools and community colleges.”