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.
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.
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.
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.
Power and speed define Sorcerer Faulstich, a 16U team based out of Fairfield, CA. Formerly known as Universal Fastpitch, Mike Faulstich joins Sorcerer Softball with his talented group of athletes from all around northern California.
Faulstich has coached travel ball for the past 20 years and will be in his fifth year coaching alongside Brian Sullivan and Dave Garcia this season. “We’ve all had our daughters play the game and now we’re on a mission for this group of talented athletes,” states Faulstich.
Sorcerer Faulstich “has an incredibly balanced attack with power and speed,” with a strong line-up of 7 lefties in the roster of 15 players. “We have to have one of the best outfields in the country,” states Faulstich, and “our five pitchers complement each other extremely well as they bring different components to the circle
That first year as a Bandits team, Yates took them to the PGF Nationals. So, he’s known for a while he’s got a group of girls with plenty of potential. Not only are they talented and becoming better by the day, but Yates has long been impressed with their love for one another.
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.
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.
“We started the team in 2014, and many of these players have been with us a long time. It’s organically evolved, but every player that has joined us understands our team culture and shares our values,” he says. “We have a lot of selfless players, so when you come on this team, I think that it’s refreshing for a lot of players. We’re competitive, but there’s a chemistry we offer that I think a lot of people gravitate to.”
This chemistry helps the team believe they are in any game, regardless of what the scoreboard says.