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Triad girl gets selected to nationally recognized softball tournament



Troy local, Gracey Lovett, gets selected to nationally recognized all-american team for upcoming tournament, (Photo courtesy of “Butch” and Debbie Clemings)

By Devese “Dee” Ursery


Local girl gets invited to play in a winter tournament for the United States Specialty Sports Association all-American softball team, for the Great Lakes Region. The great Lakes Region covers 

Gracey Lovett is a 13-year old Troy resident who plays fast-pitch softball for Triad Middle School. She will represent the state of Illinois in a tournament that will take place during 2023 Christmas break, from December to January.

The USSSA is a volunteer, sports governing body a nonprofit organization based in Viera, Florida. Originally USSSA stood for United States Slowpitch Softball Association. However, in 1998, USSSA rebranded the name to United States Specialty Sports Association, because it expanded into other sports, including youth girls fastpitch, boys baseball, youth basketball, martial arts and more.

Lovett is the daughter of Jen Clemings, a softball player from Triad who went on to play college ball at Lincoln University. Her grandfather, retired police chief Butch Clemings said that Lovett was excited and flooded with emotions when she heard about being selected for the team.

“She was enthused and overwhelmed when she found out that she was chosen to play in the tournament,” Clemings said.

Lovett has been playing softball since she was about five-years old, starting off with tee ball. He said she loves the camaraderie of being with her teammates, according to Clemings. She also runs track for Triad as well.

Clemings said Lovett’s favorite positions are catcher and first base and former Cardinal catcher Yodier Molina is her favorite athlete.

Lovett is a very good utility player, who can play all positions on the field. Her knowledge of the strike zone and power make her a very good fit, per a USSSA press release. 

Don DeDonatis, executive director and chief executive officer for USSSA said the organization was founded in 1968. The USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including baseball, fast pitch, slow pitch, karate, basketball, soccer and more. 

According to DeDonatis, USSSA is probably the largest multi-sport organization in the country, with 4.2 million members. He said the organization registers thousands of sporting events every year.

The initial focus of USSSA Baseball is the development of programs that allow teams of all skill levels  to compete against one another. The organization believes the overall development of all players can be enhanced by the experience and fun of national tournament play. 

According to USSSA, the majority of players were denied the opportunity to play because of their skill level, but the organization offers programs for four levels of play. Major and AAA programs are national programs that culminate in a World Series. The AA program is a regional program run by the participating states that culminates with AA World Series opportunities. The A level is for recreational teams and now offers ‘A’ level World Series events.

“She’s really looking forward to going,” Clemings said. “Of course Mama and Papa will need to get the money together. She’s really enthused and appreciative of the people that were tracking her and noticing her abilities.”

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