Jaysoni (Jay) Beachum comes through for her team in the biggest moments, whether a big hit is needed or a game changing play in the field.
The 16-year-old class of 2023 talent plays for the U18 Mojo Danley squad and is one of the best players in her class – ranking as the #6 corner infielder and 49th overall player on Fastpitch and 12th ranked player on Extra.
Beachum is a complete player – swinging a big bat, while being a smooth fielder and possessing an upbeat personality off-the-field that teammates gravitate towards. Her number 24 has a special meaning. It was her grandmother’s number when she played softball and as Beachum explains, “she sounds like she was the real deal from back in the day.”
Ruthless knows how to rise above any challenges that are thrown their way. While adversity occurs both on and off the field, Ruthless athletes learn to meet the challenge head on.
The Ruthless logo, a Phoenix, demonstrates the organization’s strength and resilience to overcome. The logo predominantly displayed within the Ruthless organization, was created and designed by Crystl Bustos herself, a three-time Olympian, two-time Gold medalist, and Olympic home run record leader.
Ruthless Softball launched in 2013 as a local training facility and a 10U team. Now with nearly 35 teams spanning the nation from California to the Midwest and all the way to the east coast, Ruthless fields teams from 8U to 18U with national teams competing at the 14U, 16U, and 18U levels.
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Editors Note: *National Pro Fastpitch announced the suspension of league operations Aug 1, 2021.
JB Slimp began the Texas Blaze softball club program in 2003 with a 14U team his oldest daughter was on.
“Like a lot of dads, I had been coaching her in all sports,” Slimp said. “We had a team in 2003 and at that time, my vision was to create a great atmosphere for these kids to get better and be a competitive team in our area.”
That mission was accomplished. The team began having more success and with each passing year, Slimp became passionate and informed about the recruiting process for softball players hoping to play at the college level.
Sorcerer Bigley-Everett played well in many top tournaments this year, but coach Ryan Bigley says that without a doubt the highlight of the summer was the team’s third-place finish in PGF‘s 14U Premier Bracket A.
“It was just good ball. All the girls were in a good space mentally. I think we did a decent job of getting the girls not only physically prepared but mentally prepared as well, believing in themselves and keeping it even keel,” Bigley says. “Keeping them in the moment was key for us and special stuff happening in special moments.”
The deep run at PGF was the culmination of a season where the team had to learn to overcome adversity. The team suffered a blow when Emma Misasi suffered an injury at Triple Crown Nationals.
Teams across the country are familiar with the chaos and exhaustion that comes from traveling during the summer, playing in tournaments from coast to coast. However, this past season Hotshots Esparza took the grind to the next level.
“This past summer, I kind of put them through a gauntlet,” Coach Charlie Esparza says. “We set out a dramatic summer schedule that took the parents and players on the road for a 43-day tour all over the country.”
The team played in top tournaments, starting with the Top Gun tournament in Kansas City. From there the Hotshots played in Top Club Nationals in Oklahoma, the IDT in Colorado and the TFL Championships in Texas. After finishing near the top in all of these tournaments, they won a national championship at their next stop, the NFA National Championship in Louisiana. The team took a week off before finishing their season at PGF.
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.
If you see DaNia Brooks, she likes to keep it simple. She likes to smile and puts a premium on having fun, which drives her and her team on the softball field.
The 15-year-old, rising Junior for the Tampa Mustangs 16U squad primarily plays the hot corner and pitches for her coach Rene Ciccarello Jr., whom she’s played for since 2014.
“She is a remarkable player, and probably the toughest out to get on the field,” said Ciccarello. “You throw her a change up and you wish you didn’t. You throw her a rise pitch and she gets her barrel on it. DaNia has always been a tremendous athlete with incredible strength and hand-eye coordination.”