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.
Kylee Edwards is a perfectionist. She also works extremely hard at softball and everything she does, so it should come as no surprise that she is among the top ranked players in the 2023 class. As the #7 ranked middle infielder and 48th ranked player overall for Fastpitch Network, Edwards is one of the best shortstops/middle infielders in the country.
The Indiana Magic Gold 16U team are off to a strong start having beaten several of the top teams in the country this season. Head Coach Stephanie Kleiner, who has coached for 15 years, this year merged her team with 5-6 players from another Indiana Magic team and thanks to players like Edwards, the results have been encouraging.
“The team has come together really well,” said Kleiner. “Kylee is a special player and she’s had no problems continuing relationships with the players she came over with, while also making new ones. She’s a team player who leads by example and gets very excited when her teammates make good plays.”
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.
Ava Conti dominates the pitcher’s circle with confidence and poise – she’s all business, according to her coach Mike Faulstich with Sorcerer Softball. A 5’8” 158lb right-handed pitcher and first baseman from Redwood City, California and Carlmont High School, Conti is known for her tenacity and competitive spirit.
“Ava brings a wealth of experience to Sorcerer,” states Faulstich and “we love her demeanor and controlled fire she plays with.” Conti is ranked as the No. 19 pitcher in the 2023 class, according to Fastpitch Network, and likely to push the rankings this season.
“She refuses to be outworked in anything she does,” states Faulstich, and always working daily on her physical and mental game. Her personal mantra is “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” and Conti displays a true grit mentality, competitive spirit, and a sense of determination that is one of a kind.
Roger Schliewe just figured he’d be a baseball coach. He played baseball in college and began his coaching career on the baseball diamond.
But in 1990, his path diverted and he became the softball coach at Horicon High School in Wisconsin. Schliewe took over a program that had won just one game in the previous two years. In his first season at the helm, his team posted a 13-7 record and defeated the top-ranked team in the state.
The next year, he took Horicon to the state tournament, and the rest is history. He’s won four state titles and many other conference, region and section championships.
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.
Strike up a conversation with coaches José Tuñón and Eric Forbes with the Georgia Academy Power Softball Club, and it doesn’t take long to find out what drives their passion – it’s family. José Tuñón, President of the Georgia Academy Power Softball/Baseball Club, and Eric Forbes, Chairman of Softball for Georgia Power, started coaching together when their daughters competed in 8U.
Tuñón and Forbes have impressive resumes in the sport of baseball, with Tuñón a former athlete for the Panamanian National Baseball Team, and Forbes a former NCAA Division I athlete sidelined early with injury. They transferred their love of baseball to the sport of softball when they were both blessed with daughters.
The Georgia Academy Power Softball Club (aka Georgia Power) is based in Woodstock, GA with 18 girls fastpitch teams, with local talent ranging from 10U to 18U. The club is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and focuses on key metrics such as a commitment to service, integrity of athletes and coaches, and teaching the values of sportsmanship.
The Midwest powerhouse Nebraska Gold has won its share of titles and tournaments since the organization first formed when two local organizations combined into one. Since then, many players have gone on to play college ball from Power Five to NAIA.
Program directors Larry Swift and Chad Perkins explain the wins and college offers come because of how Nebraska Gold prepares its teams and players to succeed. Young players are drilled in the fundamentals, and unity among the coaching staff helps ensure they continue to improve as they grow older.
“Everybody’s on the same page, telling all the girls the same terminology,” Perkins says.
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.