When asked to describe middle infielder Kate Vance, AZ Storm Coach Corey Mathis used words and phrases like “hardworking” and “great teammate”. However, he also came back time and again to the threat she poses on the field.
“She’ll hit plenty of home runs during the year and come up big in situations. You want the bat in her hand when the game is on the line,” Mathis said. “She’s an absolute threat.”
Vance considers her power and on base percentage to be a couple of strengths offensively. Last season, she posted a .438 on base percentage and .661 slugging percentage. However, when she steps to the plate in big situations, stats aren’t on her mind.
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.
Morgan Reimer loves to play softball, and she’s not going to let a little distance keep her from pursuing her dreams.
A proud resident of Langley, Canada Reimer joined forces with Bret Sampson’s Georgia Impact Team last year and immediately made her presence felt. “The girls loved Morgan and the team bonded pretty immediately with her,” explained Sampson. “Team chemistry is super important because it can’t be coached. We set the expectations and they buy in. Anytime I recruit someone I make them come out to a practice, and for Morgan it was crazy because she flies in from Canada and doesn’t know anyone. There was a lot going on, but my girls were great about incorporating her.”
The Ohio Lasers have been developing top-notch softball players for nearly 30 years, with the organization beginning in 1993. During that time, the organization has generally had about eight teams at any given time, ranging from 10U to 18U. In recent years, founder Jeff Cavanaugh said they’ve sometimes had two teams in an age group instead of one, but he doesn’t want the organization to grow too large. From day one, he’s wanted the Laser’s focus to be on the players.
“I don’t make any money from this,” Cavanaugh said. “I’ve looked at it as helping people instead of a business. It’s about kids, and that’s why we don’t charge much. I’m trying not to make the players pay extra.”
The USSSA New York Pride is a collegiate prep organization that prides itself on helping players prepare for the next level – both in college athletics and in life skills. Founded in 2014 by Scott Zak, the USSSA New York Pride represents athletes from western New York, Canada, and Pennsylvania with fourteen teams ranging from the 8U to 18U age groups.
“We have a good history of placing all of our athletes in colleges that fit their athletic ability and educational interests,” states Zak. Athletes are expected to work hard on the field and in the classroom and must be willing to put in the time that is necessary to achieve next level performance in both the athletic and academic arena. “We value preparing our players for life,” states Zak.
I-5 Softball is a young organization, but it has quickly grown in size and competitiveness. I-5 will have its first set of alumni soon, with several players already committed to colleges. Coach Jared Snyder believes the organization’s commitment to the players is one reason they’ve had success.
“We don’t rush out to find the next best player. We develop the players we have to make them as great as we can make them,” Coach Snyder said. “We’re very loyal to the families and the girls that commit to us.”
The high school class of 2024 is on the clock. Sept. 1 is only a few months, the day that upcoming juniors will be able to first hear from NCAA college coaches.
The Hotshots Esparza 16u team has several players likely to be hearing from colleges, having established itself as one of the top teams in its age bracket and willing to compete against the best of the best near and far.
Part of the reason head coach Charlie Esparza takes his team all over the country is because of the recruiting rules. He will take his team to the likes of California, Arizona, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas, outside of his team’s home in Texas.
NCAA teams all across America began playing this weekend. It wont be too hard to find a Division-1 Game as teams head toward warm weather states to play ball. Fastpitch Network followed Alcorn State University Braves led by Head Coach Josef Rankin to Vicksburg, Mississippi where they hosted teams such as The Kentucky State Thouroghbreds, Southeastern Baptist College (MS), Grambling State University (LA), Rust College (MS), Jackson State University (MS) and Tennessee State University. Alcorn State finished runner up to Alabama State University in the SWAC conference championship in 2021 and are looking to win the championship this year.
Like many other teams across the nation Alcorn avoids conference games. Teams will travel to play teams in other conferences. Georgia for example is in Orlando for the weekend playing schools such as Longwood (VA) to get their team ready for conference play. Braves Coach Rankin is evaluating players for future SWAC conference games as he rotates them in and out of the lineup to test them against different type of pitchers. He also has to consider defensive capabilities and his pitchers abilities vs various hitters on opposing teams. As of this report Alcorn is starting strong with 2 shutouts and a deceptive 8-3 loss in what was an 8 inning 1-1 pitching dual. The Braves do not appear to be hurting for pitching at all.
Not only do the players get their chance to audition before their coach and in front of their teammates, this opening weekend the coaches are also auditioning assistants. After the Brave’s loss we were curious who was calling pitches for the Alcorn Braves and discovered Coach Rankin had a new assistant calling pitches (not officially listed as of this report). While that game did not end the way they wanted it to, 8 innings of good work were put forward by the new assistant along with those 2 shutout games. She is off to a good start in her career at Alcorn.
Alcorn State University is located in Loriman MS and is an HBCU on a beautiful wide open campus. If you would like to follow the Braves on their quest to win their SWAC conference this year you can follow them at:
The Williamsburg Starz Gold officially launched as an organization in 2012, by Tom Bunn, who has been coaching at the 18U level since 2007. Bunn built the organization on a budget with a focus on regional development within Virginia and the Carolinas, and strong growth over the recent years has propelled the organization into a nationally competitive team.
Committed to college recruiting, Bunn’s main goal is to help every student-athlete reach her potential at the next level. He prioritizes college recruiting over wins and losses, helping athletes realize that a lot more than softball enters the decision regarding which college or university might best suit them. “Over the years we have built our reputation and our relationships with college coaches providing our athletes with many opportunities at the college level,” states Bunn.