Arizona Hotshots Help Players Develop Softball and Life Skills

Arizona Hotshots USSSA Champion

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

The Arizona Hotshots began in the mid-’90s, and since that time the organization has delivered on its goals to play high-level softball and develop players on and off the field. Currently, the Hotshots feature 13 teams ranging from 10U to 18U. Arizona Hotshots president Brad Downes says a strength of the organization is the dedication of its coaches.

“Being volunteer-driven has been a strength of the organization for many years. We have folks that are really dedicated to promoting student-athletes who want to play beyond high school,” he says. “The folks that want to be part of the organization feel they can help young female athletes reach their academic, athletic and life goals through this sport.”

Arizona Hotshots win Premier Berth
Arizona Hotshots win Premier Berth
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Hotshots Esparza: Built, Not Bought

Hotshots Esparza BW 2021

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Teams across the country are familiar with the chaos and exhaustion that comes from traveling during the summer, playing in tournaments from coast to coast. However, this past season Hotshots Esparza took the grind to the next level.

“This past summer, I kind of put them through a gauntlet,” Coach Charlie Esparza says. “We set out a dramatic summer schedule that took the parents and players on the road for a 43-day tour all over the country.”

Hotshots Esparza BW 2021
16U Hotshots Esparza Bringing It in 2021
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Editor’s Note

Fastpitch Network Followed the Hotshots from AZ to Birmingham. We watched them match up against teams like the VA unity Johnson, CA Firecrackers Vines, Corona Angels, AZ hotshots Erickson, and it was difficult to find a game they did not outright win. No losses. This is a very powerful team and they should produce a lot of exciting softball next season.

Prodigy Fastpitch: Faith, Community, Discipline

Prodigy Fastpitch

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

When Chad Warne and Pat Racanelli observed how the travel organization their daughters played for operated, they felt important pieces were missing.

“Call it arrogance or what have you, I just felt like we could do it better,” Racanelli says.

The two began discussing programs and resources they wished the organization offered to help their daughters grow into well-rounded individuals and get recruited to play college softball. Soon they founded Prodigy Fastpitch, a faith-based organization that helps players develop their skills, navigate the recruiting process and grow as individuals.

Prodigy Fastpitch
Prodigy Fastpitch
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Carolina Elite Prepares Players For The Next Level

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Carolina Elite produces top-notch softball players through rigorous coaching and relentless networking. Tony Genovese coached the first 14U team in 2007. Soon after that he brought Dana Fusetti on board. The organization has grown from there, now with teams from 8U through 23U.

Fusetti believes the organization’s greatest strength is the connections that she and coaches Genovese and Shaun Gleason have with college programs.

“We work really well together from a coaching standpoint to help get kids recruited. If a Carolina Elite coach has a player on their team that wants to go to a particular school, and that coach does not have a relationship with one of the coaches from that program, he can reach out to Tony and me. It’s not a competition by any means. We have the same goal: get the kids recruited,” Fusetti says.

Carolina Elite – Original Elite Grads
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Sorcerer Bigley-Everett Looks to Build on Success

Sorcerer Bigley

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Sorcerer Bigley-Everett played well in many top tournaments this year, but coach Ryan Bigley says that without a doubt the highlight of the summer was the team’s third-place finish in PGF‘s 14U Premier Bracket A.

“It was just good ball. All the girls were in a good space mentally. I think we did a decent job of getting the girls not only physically prepared but mentally prepared as well, believing in themselves and keeping it even keel,” Bigley says. “Keeping them in the moment was key for us and special stuff happening in special moments.”

The deep run at PGF was the culmination of a season where the team had to learn to overcome adversity. The team suffered a blow when Emma Misasi suffered an injury at Triple Crown Nationals.

Sorcerer Bigley Team Huddle
Sorcerer Bigley Team Huddle
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Hotshots Esparza: Built, Not Bought

Hotshots Esparza BW 2021

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Teams across the country are familiar with the chaos and exhaustion that comes from traveling during the summer, playing in tournaments from coast to coast. However, this past season Hotshots Esparza took the grind to the next level.

“This past summer, I kind of put them through a gauntlet,” Coach Charlie Esparza says. “We set out a dramatic summer schedule that took the parents and players on the road for a 43-day tour all over the country.”

The team played in top tournaments, starting with the Top Gun tournament in Kansas City. From there the Hotshots played in Top Club Nationals in Oklahoma, the IDT in Colorado and the TFL Championships in Texas. After finishing near the top in all of these tournaments, they won a national championship at their next stop, the NFA National Championship in Louisiana. The team took a week off before finishing their season at PGF.

National Fastpitch Challenge Champions 2021
National Fastpitch Challenge Champions 2021
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Beverly Bandits-Chow Know Nothing Comes Easy

Beverly Bandits-Chow 16U

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Beverly Bandits-Chow, one of the organization’s four 16U teams, boasts a talented roster with players from multiple states. However, playing top competition from around the country reminds them that nothing comes easy. In the PGF Show Me the Money tournament this past summer, the team dropped a couple of games in pool play. Coach Tony Michalski explains that some of the adversity the Bandits faced early on meant the team had to remember to trust each other and their coaches.

“Once they trusted and believed in the process and what we had to do, we figured it out,” he says. The Bandits battled back from their early losses to make it all the way to the championship game, which ended up being rained out. Regardless, Michalski recognizes that he has the opportunity to coach a unique team.

Beverly Bandits Chow Fall 2021
Beverly Bandits – Chow Fall Schedule 2021
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Georgia Fire Develops Players With College in Mind

Georgia Fire Organization

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Tim Todd knows the Georgia Fire well. He coached in the organization when his daughter played and continued his involvement even after she graduated and fulfilled her dream of playing college softball. The decades-old organization is based in the Atlanta area and has sent over 350 players on to the next level. However, Todd says success hasn’t translated into a desire for profit and growth.

“We stay small. We do not have 150 teams, and we will never have 150 teams. We are a 100% volunteer board,” he says. “We’re not trying to make money off of uniforms, and we’re not trying to go nationwide.”

The Fire boasts a great deal of experience throughout the organization, and because of its small size, coaches are able to really invest all they’ve learned back into their players.

Georgia Fire Organization
Georgia Fire Organization
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Success of Hotshots’ Emmorie Burke

Emmorie Burke Hotshots Burke

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

When you see Emmorie Burke on the field, chances are you’ll see her smiling. The Hotshots’ second baseman loves nothing more than manning the middle infield. Her dad and coach Marty Burke says he’s always glad to see a ball hit her way.

“When I’m in a situation and calling pitches, I’m hoping I’ll get a ground ball to her because I know it’s going to be an out,” he says. “She’s good at turning double plays. That’s her specialty. She has really quick hands.”

“I really like the ball being hit to me so I can make those big plays. I put in a lot of time and effort trying to make my game better so when the time comes, then I can be the one to make that play,” Emmorie says. “Turning double plays is my favorite thing to do because you have to be so quick at it. It’s a challenge, and I love challenges that push me to the next level.”

Emmorie Burke
Emmorie Burke
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Hotshots’ Megan Davidson Leads With Contagious Energy

Megan Davidson

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

From the batter’s box to behind the plate, Hotshot’s catcher Megan Davidson impresses. She joined Coach Marty Burke’s Hotshots team in the fall, and he already recognizes that she’s a player he can rely on regardless of the situation.

“Megan is a big moment kid. You want her in that moment when it’s on the line. She does her work during the week so she can be productive on the weekend,” he says.

Productive is one word for Davidson’s play last fall where she posted a .543 batting average and .943 slugging percentage.

Megan Davidson Catching
Megan Davidson Catching
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