Jean DePlacido column: 

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo. Paige Wodarski Salem News 2018 Spring All-Star 6/18/18 [[MER1806210759261649]]

Paige Wodarski just returned from a trip to Atlanta, where she played for Softball Factory in an Under Armour last Showcase.

The Danvers resident, a power hittin third baseman who will be a junior at Cushing Academy this coming school year, attended a tryout at Endicott College last September.

"There were around 30 girls there and I was chosen to go to Florida in December for a 3- or 4-day camp," said Wodarski, who played for Danvers High before transferring to Cushing. "I had no idea then that I would be picked for another tourney, but found out I was selected to go to Atlanta."

The tournament began on a Tuesday and was supposed to end with a championship game on Sunday, but rainy weather forced an early end to the proceedings. Wodarki's team finished with a very impressive 7-1 mark.

"We could've won the whole thing if it didn't rain," she said. "On Saturday we won our first game, 5-0, and had two or three rain delays. We were pushed back for the second one from noon to 3 p.m. and had a 4-0 lead when it started pouring. They finally canceled it, but we'd played long enough for it to count. The next day it rained hard, so that was it; no championship game."

Wodarski was the only girl from Massachusetts on the team. There was one girl from Maine, four from Tennessee, five from Texas, one from New York and a girl from Mississippi on the U16 squad.

"They were picked at other showcases all over the country," said Wodarski. "I was chosen to play in Texas this coming January, but I'm not sure yet if I'll go. It's nice to have the option if I decide to make the trip."

Wodarski was in awe at the number of college scouts who attend the big showcases. She intends to play softball in college, and has been turning heads with her play on the diamond.

"Duke University was at a bunch of our games, and the University of Virginia took in several, too," said Wodarski, who also plays field hockey for Cushing. "There were so many there that it was hard to see where they were all from.

"The competition was a lot tougher than what I normally see," she added, "but it was really a lot of fun and I think I played well."

The hardest part was dealing with the heat and humidity, she admitted. "It was really hot and muggy when we played, which was right in the middle of the day. We'd have one or two games then, and on Friday we had three games," said Wodarski. "Being from Massachusetts, I'm not used to that kind of weather every day."

Wodarski said that in a week or so, everybody who took part will get an evaluation about how they performed and what to concentrate on. "They give you a lot of instruction on what you need to work on," she said.

"I've got two more tournaments with my Angels team coming up in Lowell and Plainsville. Then it will be time to get ready to go back to school."

Wodarski, a Salem News all-star when she played for Danvers HIgh, was named a Western New England all-star this past spring. She played a role in the Penguins making the playoffs for the first time in school history. The team's coach, Aaron Santos, has said the third baseman who hit over. 500 is very coachable and possesses a great work ethic.

After a summer of softball Wodarski will take a break and focus on field hockey, where she also excels.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com and follow her on Twitter @JeanDePlacidoSN

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