Allison Miller is jealous.
Although the second baseman had a .365 batting average as a sophomore member of the Kaneland softball team last season, Miller can only imagine where her numbers would be had she been given at a young age the training opportunities she currently enjoys as a member of the Kane County Xplosion softball team.
“Yeah, I’m for sure jealous. The training with [Xplosion] is great,” Miller said. “If I had that kind of in-depth softball training at a young age, I’d be way better right now. The more time you have with the game, the better you are. If I was more involved at a younger age, I can only guess – I’d have to be better.”
Although Miller is only left to imagine how early training would have improved her game, for the up-and-coming softball youths, it’s a reality.
Miller and 18U Xplosion coach Rick Neubauer agree – opportunities on the local travel softball scene are expanding, thanks to the newly formed partnership between the Xplosion and Geneva Foxes travel softball programs.
After two months of discussion, the partnership became official less than two weeks ago. Neubauer said the move will benefit local softball players greatly.
“We think it will be in the best interest of the community to offer high quality training to the Foxes and form this partnership,” Neubauer said. “The added training will give younger players a glimpse of what it takes to succeed as well as give them the tools to become good softball players.”
With the partnership, the Foxes will be in charge of running the younger 9U and 10U fast-pitch softball programs. Both organizations will offer teams for 11U and older girls.
All levels will be given the level of training from which players such as Miller currently benefit.
“Those girls are going to be so much better,” she said. “I can’t even imagine. Their hitting is going to be so improved and their whole game. I mean, I had a hitting coach when I was young, but I didn’t have that speed training, fielding training and all that.”
Outside of training, Neubauer said the merger will give athletes a taste of what it takes to compete at the travel softball level.
“Throughout the years, we have had lots of girls who try out and aren’t ready for the level of commitment or play for exposure tournaments,” Neubauer said. “Now, rather than leave the game, with the Foxes having our training and all, they have a good starting point to learn and see how far they want to take their softball careers.”
With considerable money, travel and time commitments tied to playing the dense and rigorous Xplosion schedule, Neubauer said that Xplosion often doesn’t have as many girls wanting to compete in the younger 9U and 10U teams.
“It will help the younger kids figure out the game and how committed they want to be,” he said. “All in all, [the partnership] will provide great training to an umbrella of young talent.”
Miller said the new arrangement is sure to be prosperous.
“This partnership is going to be so beneficial,” Miller said. “Most young people come to the Foxes and start there. Now they will not only get better training, but they will know the game so much better. It will be great for Xplosion because we will have even more talent and more teams coming up.”
Recent Xplosion softball college commitments:
Katie Neubauer - University of Wisconsin-Parkside (2012)
Rion Williams - Indiana Tech (2012)
Lanie Callaghan - Valpariaso (2014)
Allyson O'Herron - Winona State (2013)
Katie Coleman - Southern Illinois (2012)
Sarah Kitz - Illinois (2012)