No offseason for Va. Skyliner softball

Published 7:18 pm Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Virginia Skyliners, a Suffolk-based travel softball team with players from King’s Fork, Nansemond-Suffolk, First Baptist Christian and other area schools, won the Softball Nation Fall Fast-pitch Festival in Petersburg on Sept. 19-20.

In one of the team’s first events as a team moving up to the 16-and-under level, the Skyliners went 6-1 and had to go through three straight No. 1 seed teams in Sunday’s playoff rounds to win the title.

“We seem to play our best ball against the best competition and in the bigger tournaments,” said Mike Matthews, head coach of the Skyliners.

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This past summer, while still as a 14U team, the Skyliners finished ninth out of 43 teams at the National Softball Association National Tournament in Salem.

After a busy and successful summer though, how long does the softball season keep going?

“There really is no offseason. We usually take a break, at least as far as team practices and things, from Thanksgiving until New Year’s, but that’s it,” said Matthews.

In Petersburg last weekend, the Skyliners went 2-1 in group play on Saturday to qualify into the championship bracket, but as a No. 2 seeded team. On Sunday, the Skyliners wound up winning all four games by at least three runs and won the final game in an 11-1 rout.

“Most of these girls came up through SYAA (Suffolk Youth Athletic Association) and we’re a self-funded, single-team organization,” said Matthews.

As the team has gotten older, the team’s moved up, with mostly the same players through the last few years, from 12U to 14U and just now to 16U.

In October, the Skyliners are lined up to travel to weekend tournaments in Richmond and Virginia Beach.

“During the winter, we’ll be working in the gym,” said Matthews. “Pitchers work on their strength and fine-tuning pitches and working on new pitches.

“And for hitting, you have to keep working all the time on it because it can go away in a hurry. The mechanics can go away and it takes working on it year-round,” said Matthews.