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.
Head Coach Mike Lunsford and Assistant Coach Jason Wade know a thing or two about building winning teams. They won a national championship in Roanoke in 2020 and another in 2018. In 2019, they finished 3rd in PGF platinum. This year they brought their 16U squad to the MOJO organization due to their winning ways and player first approach.
“They have a great group of teams over there,” said Lunsford. “With seven national championships, plus the two we bring with us, this organization has nine championships over the last five years. It’s about the girls – not the organization. It’s hard to grow a team culture, but here in MOJO it’s a winning a culture that is all about the girls. That was well established before we got here and we want to continue to grow that culture and get better as a team.”
The 16U Explosion (Hilliard) is the rare local, homegrown team that finds national success. The team started in a rec league, then moved to travel ball. Eventually, they joined the Explosion organization and haven’t looked back. Coach Chuck Hilliard explains how the team has been able to win games at the national level.
“We really hang our hat on our pitching. We’ve got a dominant number one pitcher who happens to be my daughter, Lauren. She’s going to be in the circle for us in any high-level game,” Hilliard says. “Offensively we just have a bunch of big bats. Our one through seven can consistently put it out of the park.”
Hilliard believes another important component of the team’s success has been remaining true to their original vision for what kind of team he wanted to build.
“If we had all 25 kids (in the 2023 class) verbally committed, that’s a successful season,” said Blades-Rogers. “Wins and losses are great – and I want to win – but the reality is that it is all about their future.”
Blades-Rogers understands softball success quite well. Her accomplishments as a player are extensive. She was the 2000 Honda Sports Award Softball Player of the year as an All-American pitcher for the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. She’s left her mark on the sport with the second most wins in college softball history while ranking fifth all-time in strikeouts. In 2012, she became a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
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.