Atlanta Vipers 05 Poised for Success in 16U

Atlanta Vipers 05 Tamborra Team

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

The 16U Atlanta Vipers 05 boast a talented roster built on speed, power and discipline. These girls have sky-high expectations for the upcoming travel ball season even as a first-year 16U team. Whether they’re winning tournaments, facing 18U teams in scrimmages, or grinding through practice together, the Atlanta Vipers know how to be great, in large part because they’ve been taught from the beginning what it takes to be champions.

Coach Stacy Tamborra leads the Vipers. After Tamborra finished her decorated pitching career at Florida State, she said she would never coach or teach. However, she began giving a few lessons and helped coach a local travel team. As she worked with the girls, she began to change her mind. “I just realized that God just had a bigger plan for me. You’re able to impact kids at a whole other level when you’re instructing them,” Tamborra says.

Atlanta Vipers 05 Tamborra Team Pose
Atlanta Vipers 05 Tamborra Team Pose
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Team NC’s Ritchie Competes With Grit

Teagan Ritchie At Bat Black Uniform

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Coach Kevin Hinde of the 16U Team NC has many words to describe Teagan Ritchie. Competitor and leader top the list, but gritty might be the most fitting.

“With her athleticism, Teagan can literally play anywhere on the field. She just makes plays,” he says. “She has that presence about her on the field. She’s going to scrap and do whatever it takes, whether it’s to get an out, score a run or help her teammates get going.”

Ritchie is Fastpitch Network’s 13th ranked utility player and 34th ranked player overall. She plays primarily middle infield with some occasional time in centerfield. However, Ritchie particularly relishes the challenge of playing shortstop.

Teagan Ritchie Ball Defense
Teagan Ritchie Ball Defense
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True Grit Mentality Guides Rhode Island Thunder

By Tracy Yoder – Fastpitch Network

It takes an athlete with true grit to show up on the softball diamond in 40-degree April weather to get her reps in at the plate. Teams in the northeast often face a different kind of rival – the weather. And cold weather becomes just another opponent to be trampled and stormed.

Training is seasonal in the northeast, and teams often find themselves spending more time indoors than their southern counterparts. But learning to navigate the seasons builds character and initiates a sense of determination in these athletes.

Meet the Rhode Island Thunder. Founded in 1997 by David Lotti, the Rhode Island Thunder has grown to become one of New England’s premier softball organizations. Featuring eleven teams ages 12U to 18U, the Rhode Island Thunder can be found annually at top events such as Boulder IDT, TC Nationals, and PGF Nationals to name a few.

Rhode Island Thunder Pitcher
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Virginia Unity A Reason to Wake Up in the Morning

2017 ASA 18U Gold National Champions Virginia Unity

by Ryan Greenwood – Fastpitch Network

Most softball travel organizations do not see success on a national level, and an even greater majority of them will never win a national championship within their first three years of competing.  For the Virginia Unity organization those two goals of going national and winning a national championship, became reality when they won the 2017 ASA/USA Softball 18U Gold National Championship.  

To genuinely appreciate the accomplishment of the Virginia Unity, you must understand just how it all started the small town of Fredericksburg in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the fall of 2014 with just one 18U level team.  Josh Johnson, with the assistance of Mark Ratcliff and Ritchie Jacobs, had the vision to create a better opportunity for the talented softball players in the local area.  

“I was a local high school coach getting out of education and several of the girls and parents from the high school team wanted me to continue to coach them,” stated Johnson.  “I got wife’s approval and we sought out and got the best players in the area using the local paper’s All-Area team.”

Virginia Unity Softball
Virginia Unity Softball
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Malayna Tamborra Wins With Her Arm And Her Bat

Malayna Tamborra Atlanta Vipers 2023 Pitcher Hitter

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

Most elite athletes get into sports at an early age, and Malayna Tamborra is no exception. The Atlanta Vipers 05 pitcher and first baseman grew up with softball, even more so than most.

Malayna plays for her mom, Stacy Tamborra. Tamborra played college ball at Florida State, and after giving some lessons and working with a local team, she decided to dive into coaching. She bought the building for her business, Champions Fastpitch Academy, just months before Malayna was born.

While Tamborra encouraged her kids to play other sports, Malayna grew up watching the players her mom coached become great. Soon, she decided she wanted to be a great softball player, too. But greatness doesn’t come without dedication and hard work. Especially early on, Malayna learned to use what she had to be successful.

Malayna Tamborra Atlanta Vipers 2023 Profile
Malayna Tamborra Atlanta Vipers 2023 Profile
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Sophia Stein’s Bat a Sure Thing

Sophia Stein 2023 SS U16 SoCal Athletics Wellbaum

by Ross Jacobs – Fastpitch Network

Sophia Stein likes to be in control of the game…literally. As a five-year-old, she would stand on the pitching mound and chase balls when they were hit, grab them from the outfield, and run to first base to tag players out.

At sixteen, Stein plays shortstop for the So Cal Athletics Wellbaum/Briggs 16U , is a leader who still wants the ball in her hands, and she relishes the pressure of making the big play.

“I would say my effort on the field is one of the most evident things, because it’s the one thing I control,” said Stein. “I’ve been told effort is how people will remember you or don’t remember you, so I always try to give 100 percent. If there was a game on the line, I’d want to be at bat or making a play in the field.”

Sophia Stein 2023 So Cal Athletics Wellbaum/Briggs 16U
Sophia Stein 2023 So Cal Athletics Wellbaum/Briggs 16U
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Lady Dukes Seize Goals in Life and Sports

Lady Dukes Win On and Off Field

by Tracy Yoder – Fastpitch Network

Five years ago, James Lamar was watching his 10U daughter from the sidelines and decided it was time to make a change. Feeling that some girls were being treated unfairly in the economically driven system, he decided to start a new club team that would create an opportunity for athletes to play, regardless of economic status.

Lamar partnered with his wife, Marissa Young, who had just been hired as Head Coach at Duke University, so it seemed fitting to name the team the Lady Dukes. “This became a full-time way of giving back to life – softball is not my full-time job,” states Lamar. “I was in a position to help kids by providing an opportunity – to help those that couldn’t help themselves. Everyone deserves a fair chance.”

This summer the Lady Dukes will be celebrating its fifth year as an organization and the first cohort of girls graduating into the college ranks. “Everything we have done so far is for this moment,” Lamar reflects. He states, “two years ago people would have said some of our girls would never have made it, given their background of single-parent homes or lower economic status – but they did.”

Lady Dukes Coaches
Lady Dukes Coaches James Lamar and Marissa Young
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Emily Digby of Georgia Impact Lewis Preps for Expected Success

Emily Digby 2023 Georgia Impact Lewis

by Ross Jacobs – Fastpitch Network

Emily Digby is not big on stats. In fact, when asked about her numbers from last season she couldn’t recall any specifics. If you find it surprising that a 16-year old athlete doesn’t recall their own stats, then you probably don’t know Digby very well.

Digby is the consummate team player for the Georgia Impact 18U, a squad with a track record of success and an expectation that drives student athletes to become better in all aspects of softball while also competing in the classroom.

The Dacula, Georgia resident made a big jump from 14U to 18U in the fall of 2020 and this will be her first season of playing at this level. A right-handed .400 hitter with plus power, Digby is now competing in a league where pitchers put a lot spin and speed on their pitches, the game is faster and the competition will be ratcheted up. Despite these challenges, she has already impressed her coaches and teammates despite a small sample size.

Emily Digby launches another ball for Dacula High School
Emily Digby launches another ball for Dacula High School
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Makayla Huddleston of TN Mojo Strikes With Precision

Makayla Huddleston 2023 RHP TN MOJO Danley

by Rachel Pfeiffer – Fastpitch Network

When batters step into the box against Makayla Huddleston, they don’t know what’s coming, but they do know each pitch will be precisely where Huddleston wants it to be. The meticulous righty dominates through control, something her coach Michael Danley of the Tennessee Mojo 2023 has seen since he started coaching Huddleston in 10U.

“The first time that I ever saw her she just absolutely wowed us. I mean threw it well, had great control, hit her spots, mixed speeds. She’s just got a great knack for getting people out,” he says.

Huddleston has continued to wow, leading the Mojo to the 10U 2016 PFG National Championship title and and then the 12U title two years later. Now as Fastpitch Network’s 15th ranked pitcher for the recruiting class of 2023 and the 28th ranked player overall, Huddleston believes she’s dominated in large part because she continues to hone the strengths her coach saw the first time he met her.

Mojo Danley 2023
Mojo Danley 2023
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USA Athletics Focus on Core Values and Team Culture

USA Athletics

by Tracy Yoder – Fastpitch Network

Celebrating 22 years as an organization, USA Athletics prides itself on core values and team culture, remaining humble and steadfast from the beginning.

Fifteen years ago, Mike and Rose Rogers were handed the reigns of the USA Athletics organization following the departure of Steve McNee. A husband-wife duo who enjoyed coaching their young daughter at the time stepped up to the plate to grow the organization to what it is today. USA Athletics consists of a total of 25 teams, ranging in ages 12U to 18U Gold, and spanning from Southern California to other states including Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Georgia.

The Rogers’ duo believe they have a unique culture with a primary focus on holistic player development. USA Athletics places a strong emphasis on the journey and the process of developing student-athletes, beyond wins and losses. “We focus on the process, because the process will give you the outcome,” states Rose. “It’s always family first, school, then softball.”

USA Athletics Coach Reviews Last Play
USA Athletics Coach Reviews Last Play
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