Tourneys a good time to bond |

Tourneys a good time to bond

Typically, as soon as his Bear River Bruins wrap up another win – or loss – Duane Zauner gathers his girls softball team together for a short talk on the day’s performance and then turns them loose.

Spring sports athletes are most often competing immediately after school, meaning their homework must wait until their games are over and their evening meals have been eaten. That hectic pace doesn’t leave a lot of time for teammates to mingle.

Tournament trips, however, offer plenty of time for what Zauner calls “team-building.”

Bear River and Forest Lake Christian’s softball teams are both bound for the 22-team, two-day River City Tournament in West Sacramento this weekend. And while it’s not a road trip like the one the Bear River and Nevada Union baseball teams made this week to a San Diego-area tourney, it’s a journey Zauner sees with plenty of positives.

“I use tournaments to give a lot of girls playing time,” Zauner said. “This is a great opportunity for me to play everbody, give them all some at bats and take a look at them. Every girl will get one or two starts in the tournament. I’ll make different changes and use different lineups, so we can put the best team out there for league.”

Bear River (4-4), which had a non-league matchup with Placer rained out Tuesday, doesn’t return to Pioneer Valley League action until April 5 at Mira Loma. But Zauner said this weekend’s tournament will be used both as a measuring stick and a way to build team chemistry.

“When we play games after school, we play the game and then go home,” Zauner said. “Touranments are good team-building times. Like with the Jackson Tournament (March 11-12), we went out to dinner and we went bowling. We did things just to spend time together, which we don’t have much time for when we play after school.”

Action gets under way Friday, as the Bruins meet Dixon in a 10 a.m. matchup, followed by a noon showdown against Biggs. Forest Lake Christian (1-4) will face East Nicholaus at noon, with a 4 p.m. game scheduled against Burbank.

Teams finishing first in Friday’s pool play will be among the eight teams advancing to the Gold division. Depending on their pool play records, the rest of the field will be separated into two divisions, the 8-team silver and 4-team bronze.

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