Waverly players spend the summer traveling together
It's common for top area softball players to spend their summers competing on travel teams.
For some schools the top players can split up and play on a number of different teams.
The Waverly Wolverines have a number of players on travel teams this summer, but what makes things a little different is that five of those players are on the same team.
Megan Wilbur, Stephanie Bellis, Kiana Manuel, Sam Mennig and Becca Morgan make up nearly half the roster for this year's Southern Tier Smoke 16u team.
"It makes us closer together," Mennig said of playing with her teammates all summer. "We get more used to each other."
"We are used to how we each play," Bellis said.
For all five getting a chance to work together all summer just makes them closer when the school year starts back up.
"We all know what to do together," Manuel said.
"We all get along very well," Mennig said.
This past season Waverly had a memorable season as they reached the Section IV final, and for the players that made this summer even more important.
"We went that far and we wanted to keep doing good," Mennig said.
The one big benefit of playing for the Smoke is getting a chance to face good competition all summer long.
"It's a lot better competition than we get during the school year," Mennig said.
"All the teams we play are really good," Bellis said.
While Waverly had a big season last year, they had a number of regular season games that didn't push them and they are happy to have tough games every weekend in the summer.
"I like these games a lot better," Wilbur said. "It's a lot better to play close games than to 10 run rule them."
For Mennig the summer is a chance for her to really develop her pitching against good hitters.
"I have to do different pitches and get to work on them," she said.
For the five every time they play in the summer and face these good teams it just makes them want to improve even more.
"It makes us want to play better and work even more," Mennig said.
While there are five Waverly players on the team, there are also players from other schools on the squad, including a couple Edison players.
During the school year Edison and Waverly are IAC rivals, however, during the summer they are teammates.
"We all know each other and we get along and are friends," Edison's Alle Jamison said of playing with the Waverly girls.
While they are friends, that doesn't mean that the girls don't learn from each other.
Playing with each other during the summer all of them get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each other for when they compete during the school year.
"It really does help," Jamison said.
Going to the tournaments in the summer is helpful for all the players as it gets them more prepared for the school season.
"It boosts our confidence," Dannielle Callear said. "We know what is coming."
And for many of the players they are early in their varsity careers and this is a chance to continue to get better.
"It makes you want it more and work even harder," Emily Knowlden said.
While most of the players on the team are varsity players, Emily Crowell of Horseheads is the youngest on the squad and was a JV player.
For her the competition in the summer helps prepare her for high school.
"It helps a lot, it builds up your confidence when you play against older kids," she said.
For all the players this summer has been one to remember.
"It's been a lot of fun," Hayley McCracken said.