Crush helping Fruita Monument, other softball players grow as athletes

Kelsey Jull throws a ball across the diamond recently during a practice with the Grand Valley Crush. Jull is one of only two players who are not from Fruita Monument High School on the Crush, but is using the experience to get physically prepared for her high school season with Grand Junction.

No other sport has the type of offseason that softball does.

The high school softball season begins in the middle of August, and by that time, most high school softball players have already put in two months playing softball at a very high level.

High school softball is the beneficiary of competitive softball teams that play in tournaments across the country throughout the summer.

This week’s Triple Crown Fastpitch World Series in Park City, Utah, is the final opportunity for competitive softball teams to get in games before preparing for the high school season.

Locally, the Grand Valley Crush is playing in the 18 A division in the World Series.

The Crush is made up of players mostly from Fruita Monument High School, and this is their first year playing at the 18 A level.

“The level of competition is going to be really good in Park City,” Crush coach Lanny Paulson said. “The competition is harder at 18 A, and we aren’t going to win a lot of tournaments, but that’s not why we are doing this. We went to this level to get the girls the experience they need.”

Paulson said this is the sixth year of competitive softball, and the Crush is a relatively small team carrying only 10 players. Paulson added many of the teams they play from the Front Range have 15 players from various high schools.

“In Denver, the competitive teams have tryouts, so what they are able to do is pool the talent from all the high schools,” Paulson said. “But in the fall they disperse.”

That’s not the situation with the Crush.

The Crush are a preview of what Fruita Monument will have in the fall with Kendra Williams, Shanyn Thomas, Mallory Paulson, Erika Chirdon, Hannah Honaker, Taylor Johnson, and Ashleigh Wissel all playing together with the Crush.

“It benefits Fruita because we have seven possible starters playing in the summer with us,” Paulson said. “They’ll go right into high school and they will have been playing together.”

Central’s Brittany Hoppe and Grand Junction’s Kelsey Jull are the only two players who are not from Fruita.

This is Jull’s second year with the Crush, and she said she’s been able to get physically prepared for the high school season.

“It prepares you, because if you were to take off the whole summer, you’d be getting a rude awakening going into high school,” Jull said. “So it really helps gets you out and get prepared.”

Regardless of what team players are with, a summer of competitive softball helps players progress as athletes.

“We’ll get 60 games in the summer,” Paulson said. “That’s a lot of games to get a lot of reps, and have the opportunity to hone skills and get better.”


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