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.”
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.”
But instead of being a flash in the pan, the team continued to grow, continued to compete and develop. Mojo-Danley won the 12u PGF title in 2018 and is currently one of the most notable and potent first-year 16u teams in the country.
How Ray Seymour left a Legacy for a new Generation of Successors.
by Ryan Greenwood – Fastpitch Network
This year will mark the 40th anniversary for the Tampa Mustangs travel softball organization. It is one of the oldest and most successful organizations on the national stage. Since the summer of 1981, the club has won 27 National Championships in each of the age divisions and had over 400 players to go on to play college softball at over 60 different colleges.
Founder Ray Seymour, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 72, and his wife, Cathy, started the travel softball organization to give local girls an opportunity to continue to play competitively at a high level after their local recreational leagues were finished. They were the first travel softball team on the West Coast of Florida.
BYU softball is the epitome of the word consistency.
The Cougars have done nothing but win over the last decade and a half. BYU has won a conference championship each of the last 11 years, continuing to grab conference titles despite playing in four different conferences (Mountain West, Western Athletic, Pacific Coast and currently the West Coast).
Head coach Gordon Eakin has been there 18 years now, with his team posting a winning record in each of them. The Cougars are currently on a run of 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and they broke through to the Super Regionals in 2010.
There was no NCAA Tournament in the COVID-19-shortened 2020, but the Cougars were 14-9 and playing well when the season was shuttered.
When Warren Wolfe started the Ohio Outlaws organization with just one team back in 2009, his plans were much bigger than just staying local. He had a vision to grow an organization to help the players in the area get more exposure during the recruiting process and to compete on a national level.
“I started the Ohio Outlaws because there was no one in the states of Ohio, West Virginia or Western Pennsylvania taking the girls to play the best competition and getting them the college exposure they deserved,” stated Wolff.
Although they started out playing locally as the program was getting its foundation established, they started to hit their stride as they expanded their playing area to compete on a regional level. From there, they got the attention of coaches and players from these tournaments. They started to see an interest in others wanting to be part of what they were doing.
The Baylor Bears are preseason ranked 18th in the ESPN poll and 22nd in the coaches poll and have recently released their action packed 2021 schedule. The Bears will open their season the second weekend in February at Lamson Park facing Missouri State and then facing preseason #9 ULL Ragin Cajuns. Head Coach Glenn Moore is in his 21st season leading the Bears and is “More appreciative than ever for the game of softball and Baylor University.“
The shortened 2020 season was a good one for the Bears as they were 19-5, surpassing the wins total from the prior year, defeating ranked opponents: Auburn, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Florida State. As fans look to this 2021 team they should expect a talented squad with lots of depth. Two freshmen have stuck out to Coach Moore, Sydney Collazos and Zadie Lavalley, “these are two of the best catchers we have had in our program, Sydney will get the nod early on and Zadie has a great arm, these two will turn some heads.” Maren Judisch, a freshmen pitcher from Iowa, has been training under Rich Thomas, the father of three-time All-American and Missouri Softball record holder in wins, Chelsea Thomas. “He has molded her into a pitcher and she has a lot of the same great qualities Chelsea had, we expect that she will move into a role of a very effective pitcher for us,” Moore said.
Just as the fall was different for every NCAA team this year, Baylor Softball had to tailor their routine and schedule as well. “We made it clear we were not trying to become a team per say in the fall, our goal was to let our players know they were competing for playing time and make it as competitive as possible,” Moore said. In the years past Baylor has played LSU in the fall and used this as a gauge to how they are prepared for the year, having not been able to play them Moore and his staff had to place an emphasis on pitching and challenging his hitters. Along with the effects of Covid 19 Baylor Softball lost one of its family members and coaches, Mark Lumley on December 27, 2020.