TN Mojo 2024 Hughes has featured a core group of players since they were in 10U, and Coach Michele Hughes believes that this talented core staying together has been key for the team’s success.
“Because the core group of these girls has been together for so long, they know each other really well, and they really play as one cohesive unit,” she said.
TN Mojo Hughes boasted a 45-11 record last year, including a third-place finish at Triple Crown Southwest Nationals and a top 20 finish at the Colorado Sparklers Power Pool. The team hopes to build on their success this year. As the players have gotten older, Hughes has been encouraged by how they’ve matured and taken responsibility.
When you look at the top players in the Class of 2024, you don’t need to scroll far to find Jayden Heavener’s name. The 15-year-old hard throwing lefty is ranked as the #11 overall prospect on Fastpitch Network and #1 prospect on Xtra Innings.
The sophomore pitcher from Pensacola, who also plays first, joined Josh Johnson’s Virginia Unity 16U team in late summer and made an immediate impact. The Johnson/Ross team which combined players from two different teams, went 25-3-2 over the fall and Heavener was spectacular. She pitched 57 innings going 11-0, surrendering just 22 hits with 116 strike outs, a 0.73 ERA and opponents hit just .117 with her on the bump. Heavener struck out 11 batters in three different games this fall.
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.
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.