Strike up a conversation with coaches José Tuñón and Eric Forbes with the Georgia Academy Power Softball Club, and it doesn’t take long to find out what drives their passion – it’s family. José Tuñón, President of the Georgia Academy Power Softball/Baseball Club, and Eric Forbes, Chairman of Softball for Georgia Power, started coaching together when their daughters competed in 8U.
Tuñón and Forbes have impressive resumes in the sport of baseball, with Tuñón a former athlete for the Panamanian National Baseball Team, and Forbes a former NCAA Division I athlete sidelined early with injury. They transferred their love of baseball to the sport of softball when they were both blessed with daughters.
The Georgia Academy Power Softball Club (aka Georgia Power) is based in Woodstock, GA with 18 girls fastpitch teams, with local talent ranging from 10U to 18U. The club is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and focuses on key metrics such as a commitment to service, integrity of athletes and coaches, and teaching the values of sportsmanship.
The Midwest powerhouse Nebraska Gold has won its share of titles and tournaments since the organization first formed when two local organizations combined into one. Since then, many players have gone on to play college ball from Power Five to NAIA.
Program directors Larry Swift and Chad Perkins explain the wins and college offers come because of how Nebraska Gold prepares its teams and players to succeed. Young players are drilled in the fundamentals, and unity among the coaching staff helps ensure they continue to improve as they grow older.
“Everybody’s on the same page, telling all the girls the same terminology,” Perkins says.
Getting back onto the ball diamond and competing is what Explosion Sanchez-Berouty 2023 is looking forward to most this season. First stop Zoom into June, followed by Boulder IDT, the Champions Cup, and PGF Premier.
Explosion Sanchez-Berouty is based in Cerritos, California and features a core group of ladies that have competed together since they were under ten years old. Rey Sanchez is head coach of the Explosion and has coached this group of athletes since 2015.
Sanchez looks forward to getting back on the softball diamond and playing in normal conditions after losing a competitive season to the pandemic. “These girls have paid enough of a price, they deserve it,” he states.
Madison Edwards loves a good challenge. She also hates to lose …at anything.
Although she comes from a family of athletes, Edwards gets her competitive streak from her father, who wouldn’t take it easy on her growing up. She fondly recalls that moment when she broke through and beat him at ping pong when she was 12. “I’ll never forget that,” Edwards proudly states.
Her disdain for losing has driven Madison in everything she’s done. Edwards’ drive has also helped position her Team North Carolina 16U squad as a team to watch in 2021, and made her one of the best 2023 ballplayers.
The Beverly Bandits are known for playing winning softball and sending players on to successful college and even professional softball careers. However, like most organizations, the Bandits began small.
In the mid-’90s, Beverly Park needed to start a girls’ softball program. Bill Conroy volunteered to head up the effort, and his teams did well in their first season. When they reached the all-star games, though, they quickly realized they had more to learn.
“We were throwing slingshot, probably around 30 to 35 miles per hour. The first time I saw somebody pitch windmill I asked the umpire if that was legal,” Conroy says with a laugh.
Coach LeAndre Ricks’ talented Sorcerers team finds themselves poised for success, both because of individual abilities and because of how they come together after years of playing alongside each other.
“I’ve had a core for so long that they know what the other is going to do. That chemistry of them knowing each other, that’s what makes it so fun to watch,” Ricks says. “What makes them great is their energy. They’re willing to grind and put in the work individually off the field. When we’re not practicing, they’re always hitting or fielding. They put in that work.”
Though most of these girls have played together for years, they didn’t always compete in a Sorcerer uniform. Ricks explains that eventually landing with this organization was a process.
If your strategy is to try and intimidate Team North Carolina’s 16U – Hinde squad, you may want to come up with a better plan. Despite their relative youth, they are not a team that backs down and they are used to playing older competition.
As a 14U team, head coach Kevin Hinde’s team routinely played the highest level in showcases and tournaments, and often played 16U and some 18U teams. During a challenging 2020, and in their first season at 16U, playing the toughest competition including 18U teams, they finished was 66-27.
Sporting 12 nationally ranked players – including five in the Top 100 – and 73 percent of the player in the 2023, Team North Carolina is primed for a bright future.
Like many travel organizations, Power Surge started small. A single rec team who wanted to play better competition led to the founding of the Power Surge organization in 1992, and the rest is history. Now boasting around 25 teams, Scott Berndess credits the organization’s success to the talented girls and coaches who have represented Power Surge the past thirty years.
“We’re all here to have fun but winning was very important. It put us on the map,” he says.
Power Surge has won many tournaments and titles, including two national championships. Winning is not only important for the success of the organization, but also the players themselves.
Competing with the Arizona Storm since 10U, Dellamonica represents a 5 Tool Player who excels in speed, power, hitting, fielding, and arm strength. Not only does Dellamonica possess the essential skills for on-field success, she offers so much versatility to her team.
Dellamonica is currently ranked as the No. 16 utility player and No. 39 overall in the 2023 class, according to Fastpitch Network. While she is a stand-out 3rd baseman, Dellamonica is extremely versatile in the field with the ability to play middle infield or could be a dynamite center fielder, according to Appel.
All travel teams strive to play with skill, intensity and power, but Virginia Glory teams also play with a deeper purpose.
Founder Suzy Willemssen started the organization with just a single team. As time went on, others asked if she’d consider taking on additional teams. Over 20 teams now represent Virginia Glory, including a couple of teams in the Midwest. Former Glory players compete for Power Five schools and take home both individual and team trophies, a testament to the excellent instruction they received.
In building this organization, Willemssen was, and still is, interested in finding coaches and players dedicated to the organization’s vision of purpose-driven softball.