When J.J. Jimenez was watching the PGF Championship on TV with his daughter and the rest of the family, he told her one day you will play in that championship game. Even though she was still young in her softball career, the idea he wanted to instill was to dream big.
“I was her hitting coach. I was her fielding coach,” said Jimenez. “I would do all her skill videos.”
Even though they were just above the Mexican border, but below the softball hotspot in the Orange County and San Diego area, they were starting to put teams together with those girls from the area that were interested in improving their softball skills.
The University of Kentucky softball program is no longer a plucky underdog, capable of jumping up and surprising its opponents occasionally.
No, the Wildcats have lost that distinction. They advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in 2014, have established themselves as a perennial Super Regional team and have finished second in the ridiculously competitive Southeastern Conference twice in the last four completed seasons.
For many years now, Indiana Magic Gold has been one of the top fastpitch softball club organizations in the Midwest.
But the people involved in the program are not content with that distinction. They are continuing to pursue improvements to keep moving the organization into the upper echelon of the best of the best, nationwide.
From the time she was young, Addison (Addie) Mettler has been around softball fields. All that time spent around the game helped her acquire a lot of working softball knowledge. That awareness combined with her motivational drive has made her into one of the top 2023 prospects.
“She thinks the game through incredibly well and she learns quickly from her mistakes,” said her dad and former head coach, Greg Mettler.
“The thought that someone out there in the world is working just as hard as me to get that same spot at a great college really motivates me to get better, because it instills competition in me,” stated Addie Mettler. “I know that is my spot and no one is going to take that from me, because I’m going to work ten times harder on the field and in the classroom to get it.”
When Will Tomasello founded the Georgia Impact softball organization back in 2002, it was not about the results. It was about the process. It was about a culture.
“It wasn’t that anybody was doing anything bad, I just wanted to do it my way,” said Tomasello. When Georgia Impact – Lewis defeated the OC Batbusters – Stith in the PGF 18U National Championship game in 2018, that was in part, a result of the process and the culture instilled by the organization
The state of Tennessee was a bit of a culture shock for Karen Weekly. Having grown up in the state of Washington and playing and coaching at Pacific Lutheran University, the move east was a bit of an adjustment.
Watching Kenleigh Cahalan play, it might seem as if she is a few years older than she actually is.
That’s intentional, because she tries to make it look that way.
“I just treat everything like I am one of the older ones and do my best,” she said. As an eighth-grader, Cahalan was pulled up to her high school’s varsity team at Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.). Early on that year, she established herself as the team’s primary third baseman and took a backseat to none in terms of production.
Ava Brown had worked hard to become one of the top overall 2023 recruits, ranking No. 6 overall among Class of 2023 prospects for Fastpitch Network, and was looking forward to the summer season to continue to improve her game.
“It has always been my dream to not only play college softball, but to also represent my country,” said Brown.
The exposure at summer tournaments and showcases are what all the young softball players work for in hopes of getting seen by the college coaches who attend the events.
Although The University of Texas softball had seen its share of success through the years, the program was becoming somewhat stale. By 2018, their season had ended in regional play each of the last five years.
The Longhorns were ready to get back to their prominence and to the Women’s College World Series. The change started with the hire of Mike White as the Head Softball Coach on June 25, 2018. White was very familiar with the Women’s College World Series, having been there five of the last seven years.