The Southwest Iowa Swarm, in its third year of existence, is looking to improve on a number of top-four finishes at this weekend’s Iowa Games.

The Swarm, 10-, 12- and 14-under softball “select” (or by invitation) teams comprising of softball players from southwest Iowa, will be competing at the Games Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21, at North River Valley Park in Ames.

About 30 players from Cass County are part of the teams, drawing from all three school districts — Atlantic, Griswold and CAM — according to Ryan Askeland, one of the coaches who helped oversee the program from its inception.

“We seek out talent,” said Askeland, noting that other players come from ACGC, AHSTW, Exira-EHK, Fremont-Mills, Riverside of Oakland and other locations across southwest Iowa. “Most of the girls don’t play with each other, so they’re spending the first couple of weeks getting to know each other.”

The program was based the last two years in Griswold before moving to the Atlantic Little League complex as its home practice field. The teams prepared for the Iowa Games with a tournament last weekend in LeMars.

The Swarm was founded by Trevor Gipple, the 14-under coach and former ACGC assistant coach who thought that the summer youth softball season perhaps went a little too quickly. Several of the Griswold players combined with AHSTW, Riverside and Underwood teams

“They kind of started a select team that went to the Iowa Games that placed fourth,” said Askeland. “After tht our program just grew.”

Last year, the Swarm’s 10-under team was fourth, the 12-under team placed third and the 14-under squad turned in a runner-up performance.

“I’m expected to talk a lot on the field and let everyone know what’s going on,” said Marissa Askeland, catcher for the 12-under team. “They help me do beter in my own school when I’ll play varsity.”

Ryan Askeland said part of the program’s goals is to build relationships, ones that will last a lifetime.

“They’ve met girls they’ve never met before and they get competition that you just can’t duplicate around here,” he said.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.