Local softball player represents USA in the Netherlands | News

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CORBIN — Local Whitley County High School softball player Jayden Barton is now in an elite group having represented USA for the International Softball Fastpitch Association’s The Cup 2023 tournament.

Hosted in the Netherlands earlier this month, 48 games of softball were played over three days to crown a winner.

The Bartons heard about the opportunity from a friend and decided to send in an application. The criteria the association was looking for was someone that was coachable and had been in softball for a long time with high skill levels.

Jayden’s mom, Lori Barton, thought Jayden could be a good option for the group.

Kirt Whiteside, who organizes the North American teams, said the association looks beyond the skill an athlete holds to also consider the character of the young women they choose.

“Many times you have the best athletes but we are looking for the the best people,” Whiteside shared.

Jayden fit right in and was one of the only girls from Kentucky playing at the event.

Jayden has played softball since she was a little girl in both local Corbin school teams and travel ball for Kentucky Bayou in Lexington, but she found out quickly that indoor softball in the Netherlands would give her an experience like no other.

Not only did she get to travel to Paris and Amsterdam to see the sites but the tournament gave her an opportunity to play softball like never before.

“America is so large; our girls don’t know what is out there,”Whiteside said. “There is so much more to the world to see.”

Through softball, a door opened for Jayden to be exposed to a new culture.

Jayden’s go-to position is catcher but she would debut in the Netherlands playing short stop and second base due to the position being filled by an older, more experienced player.

Jayden is 14 years old and was competing with women of all ages all the way into their 40s — many, from different countries.

“She was the youngest one in the tournament,” Lori said.

Teams gathered competitively from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and Austria in addition to the United States.

“She was competing with Olympic athletes,” Whiteside said.

The experience was full of surprises.

“Going into a different spot with different players was kind of normal because of my experience with travel ball,” Jayden said “The rules were the hardest to get used to for me.”

The rules and regulations were much different than the sport played in the U.S.

“It’s indoor; you are only allowed to have eight players on the field; there is no right field; the base paths are shorter; the balls are squishy like a dead ball; and the pitcher mount was closer up,” Jayden said. “It was wild.”

No home runs were allowed in the softball matches. Only two bases at a time were allowed.

“A rope was in the outfield and if you hit it over it, you got two bases and if you hit it under, you got one,” Jayden said.

It was like a whole new game for Jayden.

In the tournament, six teams would represent the U.S. Barton played for the U.S. team called the Avengers.

Though the Avengers may have struggled to keep up with the other teams, Barton said she will never forget the experience and will be taking what she learned from the kind people in the Netherlands back home to her Whitley County softball field.

“The Dutch were really accepting of us,” Jayden said. “I will probably take that back with me onto the field — to be more accepting of other teams and players, as I move forward.”

Whiteside shared how the Dutch enjoyed Jayden’s accent — asking what kind of English she spoke. They didn’t know what it meant when she replied to them she’s just from a small holler.

“If you are an athlete,” Whiteside said, “take advantage of every opportunity. It can open doors to your future.”

Jayden is looking forward to the upcoming season and playing softball the way she grew up on it.

“I am super thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Jayden said.”I am not sure where I will go play ball at in college or anything but this experience will never be forgotten.”

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