Travel softball team coming to Louisa

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Crystl Bustos works with Mackenzie Jones on her hitting skills. Jones’ parents plan to start a travel softball team in Louisa through Bustos’ Ruthless Softball organization. 

Photo submitted by Megan Jones

 

Young girls interested in playing softball and learning skills from Olympic athletes will soon have an opportunity to do so thanks to a new program that will be starting in Louisa County over the summer.

Christopher and Megan Jones are starting a 10-and-under team in the Ruthless Softball program. The team is for girls between the ages of eight and 10 who “want to play competitive softball and learn the knowledge and mentality of the sport,” Megan said.

“We’re hoping to grow the program to be able to add a 12U team next year, and to make Louisa the home base for this program for the next 20 to 30 years,” she added.

Megan will serve as the team’s coach while Christopher will handle the administrative side of things. Megan brings a lot of experience with the game to the table, having played on a number of travel teams over the years. She played for Morgan State University’s softball team while in college; after graduation, she spent a year and a half as the team’s pitching and outfield coach and worked as a private instructor.

Ruthless Softball was founded in Los Angeles, California in 2013 by three-time Olympic softball player – and two-time gold medalist – Crystl Bustos. It initially bwas a training program but in 2015 Bustos began starting her own travel teams. In the years since, the program has expanded to more than 30 teams across the country. The Louisa team will be the first Ruthless Softball team in Virginia, making it the 11th state to join the program.

Megan had followed Bustos’ career when she was playing. Last year when she and her husband discovered that Bustos was giving hitting lessons on Instagram due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they reached out to her about working with their daughter Mackenzie. Bustos began working with Mackenzie through Zoom in December and the Joneses traveled to North Carolina so Mackenzie could work with Bustos in person at one of her clinics.

That sort of hands-on training is a big part of Ruthless Softball, as Bustos travels around the country to do clinics and camps for the teams in the program multiple times a year. She also has other Olympic and professional softball players do clinics with the players.

“I don’t want the players to feel like they’re just wearing the name,” Bustos said. “I want them to understand they have a connection, and I feel like I have a connection with every single one of them. I want to see them succeed.”

The Louisa team, which will be open to aspiring players throughout central Virginia, is still in the early stages. Tryouts for the team are tentatively scheduled for the end of July, with a camp in June so parents and players can meet Bustos and learn more about the program. 

The Joneses main goal right now is to secure sponsorships for the team to help mitigate the costs. Sponsorships would go toward covering a variety of costs from tournament fees to equipment to field usage. Sponsors can direct what they want their money to be used for. Megan estimates the cost to parents will be $75 per month, which is less than what travel teams normally cost. As more sponsorships come in, the Joneses hope that cost can go down.

“We’re trying to get as much money as we can for these girls so their parents don’t have to worry about where the money is going to come from,” Megan said. “We just want the girls to come out and play and enjoy themselves.”

Anyone who is interested in becoming a sponsor or learning more about the team can contact the Joneses at (540) 603-6956 or email va.ruthless@gmail.com.

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