After college, Donny Dreher had traveled around playing modified fastpitch to engage his competitive spirit and stay active. Little did he know that when he retired to save the wear and tear on his body, that years later he would find his way back around to the game of softball and the Finesse Fastpitch organization.
At the request from a friend to come evaluate a player, he visited a local high school to check out the player. This is where he met Tommie Walker and Denny Schlimgen on this day in 1992.
“I got hooked on it,” said Dreher. “I liked what they were doing.”
When Shawn Quarles, and his brother Joey, were getting into the travel softball world with their daughters, they learned quickly that it was a lot different from their experience in recreational softball.
As the needs grew with the players and their development, they moved forward around 2007 to start a small softball organization called the Cerritos Franchise.
As a top recruit in the class of 2023, Alexa (Lex) Rosales has earned the respect of those in the Athletics Mercado softball organization from her hard work ethic. In the fall, she was moved to the Athletics Mercado – Greg/Tidd team to continue to work on her development.
“I would put Lex’s work ethic up against any player in the nation,” said Brian Tidd, coach for the Athletics Mercado – Greg/Tidd team. “Lex has played at the highest level throughout her career with our Academy and is a true leader that has set the highest standard of how we play this game.”
When J.J. Jimenez was watching the PGF Championship on TV with his daughter and the rest of the family, he told her one day you will play in that championship game. Even though she was still young in her softball career, the idea he wanted to instill was to dream big.
“I was her hitting coach. I was her fielding coach,” said Jimenez. “I would do all her skill videos.”
Even though they were just above the Mexican border, but below the softball hotspot in the Orange County and San Diego area, they were starting to put teams together with those girls from the area that were interested in improving their softball skills.
From the time she was young, Addison (Addie) Mettler has been around softball fields. All that time spent around the game helped her acquire a lot of working softball knowledge. That awareness combined with her motivational drive has made her into one of the top 2023 prospects.
“She thinks the game through incredibly well and she learns quickly from her mistakes,” said her dad and former head coach, Greg Mettler.
“The thought that someone out there in the world is working just as hard as me to get that same spot at a great college really motivates me to get better, because it instills competition in me,” stated Addie Mettler. “I know that is my spot and no one is going to take that from me, because I’m going to work ten times harder on the field and in the classroom to get it.”
When Will Tomasello founded the Georgia Impact softball organization back in 2002, it was not about the results. It was about the process. It was about a culture.
“It wasn’t that anybody was doing anything bad, I just wanted to do it my way,” said Tomasello. When Georgia Impact – Lewis defeated the OC Batbusters – Stith in the PGF 18U National Championship game in 2018, that was in part, a result of the process and the culture instilled by the organization
Ava Brown had worked hard to become one of the top overall 2023 recruits, ranking No. 6 overall among Class of 2023 prospects for Fastpitch Network, and was looking forward to the summer season to continue to improve her game.
“It has always been my dream to not only play college softball, but to also represent my country,” said Brown.
The exposure at summer tournaments and showcases are what all the young softball players work for in hopes of getting seen by the college coaches who attend the events.
With only two teams, it was an innocent start in 2010 into the travel softball world. Brian Madden and his dad, Mike, created the Oklahoma Athletics. It has continued to grow into an up-and-coming softball organization that will have to be reckoned with.
“We didn’t ever think it was going to get as big as it is now,” said Brian Madden. “We have went from two teams to about ten teams and now, we have 37.”