Sophia Stein likes to be in control of the game…literally. As a five-year-old, she would stand on the pitching mound and chase balls when they were hit, grab them from the outfield, and run to first base to tag players out.
At sixteen, Stein plays shortstop for the So Cal Athletics Wellbaum/Briggs 16U , is a leader who still wants the ball in her hands, and she relishes the pressure of making the big play.
“I would say my effort on the field is one of the most evident things, because it’s the one thing I control,” said Stein. “I’ve been told effort is how people will remember you or don’t remember you, so I always try to give 100 percent. If there was a game on the line, I’d want to be at bat or making a play in the field.”
Some leaders use their voice. Some lead by example. And, some lead using their actions. Very rarely do you find a leader who does all three, but Alyssa Hastings isn’t just any type of ballplayer.
Hastings, a sophomore sensation who plays shortstop for the Tennessee Fury [Premier 2022] U18 squad, is hard to miss. She’s typically the first player out on the infield grass, the first player at practice, and one of the last players to go home. Her work ethic and softball IQ, at just 16 years of age, is off-the-charts.
For all of her special softball gifts – the quick hands, smooth glove, the patient approach at the plate, incredible bat control – it is her team first approach that stands out above all else.
Not many young players are wise beyond their age to show a sense of loyalty in the modern era of sports. From the professional athlete to the youth player, migrating from team to team is not an uncommon occurrence. That was not the choice or case for McKaela Walker.
“One strength that she developed at a very young age was loyalty,” said Todd Mayfield, head coach of the East Cobb Bullets – Mayfield team. “She’s very loyal to her coaches, loyal to her teammates, and very loyal to the organization she plays for.”