Savvy Softball’s Annual Easton Rawlings Elite Fall Championship Proves to be Big Draw for Athletes and Coaches

Savvy Softball’s Annual Easton Rawlings Elite Fall Championship Proves to be Big Draw for Athletes and Coaches

By Jeff Strange

The weather was terrific and the competition was top-notch on the weekend of 10/20-10/22 for the annual Easton Rawlings Elite Fall Showcase hosted by Savvy Softball. A big draw for elite level softball athletes and college coaches looking to evaluate prospective players for their programs, the Easton/Rawlings Elite Fall Showcase has become a staple event for overall exposure. We caught up with Savvy Director Dan Paulson to get his take on the busy weekend of softball, what drives him in this game and the future prospects of his events.

How long has this event been taking place?

Savvy Softball has been running this event since 2020. At the time, it was known as The Demarini. In 2021, we collaborated with Easton Rawlings and began running the event in O’Fallon and Edwardsville, IL. This was the 13th year overall that it has been ran.

How many teams were initially in the event when it became known as the Easton/Rawlings Elite Fall Showcase vs. the turnout for this fall?

We had roughly 80 teams total when we began running it in 2021. This year, we had 140 teams spread out over six complexes in the St. Louis metropolitan area – three parks in Illinois and three parks in Missouri with age groups ranging from 12u-18u.

What format do you use for your showcase games:

At 16u and 18u, its 1 hour and 40 minutes, finish the inning and 2-hour time slots. We feel that is unique – the average number of innings played this fall for those age groups was 6.3 innings. The longer game times allows college coaches to see a student-athlete hit two, three or four times in a game…pitchers get to throw five or six innings as opposed to just two or three innings in a shorter game format. We schedule the games two hours apart; this allows us to stay on schedule and makes it easier for college coaches to plan accordingly. Ultimately, it is all about getting the athletes the best opportunity to showcase what they can do and helping the college coaches know where and when they need to be to look at an athlete that they may be interested in.

Do you know approximately, how many college coaches checked in this fall?

The number of coaches in attendance was over 200; we are still figuring exact numbers, but my estimation is somewhere around 250 this year. I noticed one game last Saturday that had 39 college coaches standing behind the backstop watching. It was a very good turnout – we try to make it as appealing for them as we can by providing them with a printed booklet to go along with the digital booklet for all of the information. We provide food and beverages as well so they generally remain at the parks all day to take it all in.

Was there any difference in how the 16u/18u divisions were ran vs the 12u/14u divisions?

16u and 18u play five showcase games between Saturday and Sunday with their schedules lined out. We had teams from 20 different states and with scheduling their flights and travel; it makes it easier for them to know when they’ll be done on Sunday. For the 12u and 14u, we made it competitive with a cash prize on the line. Each team started in a box-bracket with four teams per bracket. This way they knew exactly when they were going to play their three games on Saturday. Sunday was brackets with cash prizes awarded to the top two teams in each 12u and 14u divisions.

What are your plans for the future?

For our fall event, we’ll most likely continue with a very similar format. We run a summer event that in 2024 will be our third year conducting – the Savvy Softball Elite Summer Shootout. We continue to look for other areas that might have a need for a strong tournament, but really just need to find the right venues and the right dates. We want to make sure that we use top class fields and to make sure that we have the strongest teams that we can attract to any of our events. At the end of the day, in order to maintain the number of teams that want to play in the event and to give everyone – the teams and college coaches – a good schedule that they are happy with, it ultimately takes fields that are of good quality, but are not too spread out for any coaches that may want to travel from park-to-park to see athletes and teams that they want to see.

Missouri High School State Championship Final Four Preview – Class 4 & 5

Missouri High School State Championship Final Four Preview – Class 4

By Jeff Strange

The stage is set for this upcoming weekend’s Missouri High School Softball State Championship. Today, we are breaking down the final four teams in Class 4 that will be facing off at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield, MO.

  • 10/26 at 1:00pm – Washington (35-1-1) vs. Parkway West (22-9)
    • Washington is coming off a 13-0 win over Notre Dame of Cape Girardeau last Saturday. Senior RHP Taylor Brown is having a season for the books, boasting an ERA of close to 0.50 while racking up close to 250 strikeouts for the season. Senior Lauren Opfer and Senior Lacy Monzyk have provided exceptional depth in the circle for the Blue Jays. Washington’s offensive attack is stacked, with a team batting average of over .450 for the season. Brown has exhibited huge power and run production all season, along with Junior Grace Molitor who has been a dual threat showing power and speed. Seniors Christine Gerling (hitting over .500), Maddie Guevara and Lacy Monzyk have also been key contributors on offense for the Blue Jays.
    • Parkway West defeated North Point 11-1 in the state quarterfinals on 10/21/23, setting up their semifinal matchup against Washington. The Longhorns feature two dynamic juniors with IF Siena Snyder and OF Alexa Riddel leading the offensive attack. Fellow Junior Lily Bell has put up strong numbers as well with a batting average over .400 and speed to aid in Parkway West’s attack. Senior Mackenzie Brown has been the ace for the Longhorns this season, with an ERA hovering around 1.50. Sophomore hurler Juliet Relihan has provided solid depth in the circle as well.


  • 10/26 at 1:00pm – Helias Catholic (21-9) vs. Kearney (26-5)
    • In a rematch of last year’s class 4 state championship, the Helias Crusaders are looking to avenge that loss and bring home a title to the state capitol. Led in the circle by Cambri VanLoo and Karoline Klebba, the Crusaders are coming off a win over Camdenton 4-3 on 10/21/23. Key offensive contributors for Helias this season have been Kendyll Rackers, Alex Wilde and Klebba with all three hitting over .400 for the season and providing speed and run production for the Crusaders.
    • Looking to defend their crown as state champions, the Kearney Bulldogs roll into the class 4 state tournament with a 14-game winning streak. The Bulldogs boast a strong group of arms in the circle, with Alyssa Quick, Kate Landewee and Sela Lowrance all contributing strong seasons. At the plate, Kearney has received strong offensive seasons from Quick, Brooke Paalhar, Macy Morrow and Morgan Pennington.

Missouri High School State Championship Final Four Preview – Class 5

The stage is set for this upcoming weekend’s Missouri High School Softball State Championship. Today, we are breaking down the final four teams in Class 5 that will be facing off at Killian Softball Complex in Springfield, MO.

  • 10/26 at 12:00pm – Francis Howell (25-6) vs. Troy Buchanan (27-6-1)
    • Francis Howell comes in fresh off a 3-1 victory over a strong Jackson, MO squad. Led by Senior RHP Lorin Boutte, the Vikings are a well-balanced team with two strong arms in the circle with Junior RHP Elle Glass combining with Boutte to provide a strong 1-2 punch. Offensively, Boutte provides a strong bat along with Freshman Catcher Adelle Metz. Seniors Macey Nix and Natalie Vines have also contributed run production and speed to aid in Howell’s attack.
    • Troy Buchanan defeated Francis Howell North 8-0 in the state quarterfinals on 10/21/23, setting up a state semifinal game against Howell. Senior LHP Macie Hunolt has been a staple in the rotation for Troy since her freshman season, breaking the school’s career strikeout record earlier this fall and maintaining an ERA under 1.00 to this point of the season. Hunolt also offers a strong bat in the lineup along with fellow Seniors Gracie Johns, Teryn Brown and Mackenzie Williams. Hunolt, Johns and Williams have provided power and run production, while Brown, senior Autumn Trower and junior Ellee Graff have been key contributors on the basepaths.
    • Both teams have met twice this season, with Troy winning 2-0 over Howell on 9/12/23 and Francis Howell defeating Troy 2-0 on 9/28.


  • 10/26 at 12:00pm – Blue Springs South (26-2) vs. Raymore-Peculiar (30-2)
    • Blue Springs South has only been dealt defeat by one school – Nebraska powerhouse Gretna handed the Jaguars their only two losses of the season, back in late August and then again in early September. Blue Springs South are riding are 20-game winning streak, most recently eliminating Willard 16-2 on 10/21/23. The Jaguars feature a high-powered offense, led by Senior Madison Hoffman, who is hitting well over .400 and providing speed on the bases. Seniors Abby Wilhem, Mya Bristow and Sophomore Kamryn Waters have mashed at the plate, putting up impressive power numbers throughout the course of the season. In the circle, Hoffman has been a true ace with an ERA hovering around 1.00 and averaging well over a strikeout an inning. Senior Maddy Duvall has been very strong as well, with an ERA just under 2.00 along with great command and also averaging well over a strikeout an inning.
    • Raymore-Peculiar is coming in hot with an impressive 1-0 victory over Liberty on 10/21/23. The Panthers only two losses of the season have come at the hands of Blue Springs South, with the Jaguars defeating the Panthers 5-3 on 9/18/23 and again 3-1 on 10/2/23. Sophomore LHP Kelsie Donaldson has been a menace in the circle and at the plate for the Panthers, providing power at the plate and overpowering opposing hitters all season. Fellow Sophomore Reygan Ackley has proven capable in the circle and at the plate as well. Senior Hayden Kurtz has put up impressive offensive numbers for the season, showing big power throughout the fall. Other key offensive performers for the Panthers have been Junior Bailey Hummel, Sophomore Carmen Boxberger and Freshman Abbi Schuster.


Peyton Hardenburger Commits to Tennessee

Peyton Hardenburger Commits to Tennessee

Wamego standout softball player Peyton Hardenburger (2025) is officially a Lady Vol.  The star pitcher announced her commitment to play for Tennessee earlier this month.

Hardenburger has been dominate in the circle for the Red Raiders as well as her club team, Select Fastpitch.  Last year, on her teams run to a state championship, she threw two no-hitters in the state tournament, one in the semi-finals, and then again in the finals.  The right-handed pitcher finished the high school season 11-0 with 182 strikeouts and a 0.18 ERA.

A two-time 1st Team All-State selection and the 4A Kansas Pitcher of the year, said she fell in love with the family atmosphere that Tennessee offered.  Something she knew she wanted from her college experience. 

“Immediately I got to experience the town of Knoxville and fell in love with the place.  I couldn’t ignore how much the coaching staff clicked.  I would tell every college the number one thing I want in a program is family” said Hardenburger.

Not only was it the family atmosphere, but also the coaching staff and amazing facilities Tennessee has the helped sell Peyton.  Tennessee is coached by Karen Weekly.  Her husband Ralph previously worked alongside her as her co-head coach. “Though Ralph doesn’t coach anymore, he and Karen have made a family impression on the program.  You could tell the girls had a connection with each other that I share with my teammates, so I knew I would fit right in” said Hardenburger.  “The cherry on top was sitting in Neyland Stadium and listening to Rocky Top for the first time, instant chills.”

The Lady Volunteers are getting a highly competitive pitcher that is confident in her abilities.  “I’ve always been told I’m a crazy competitor, and my mental game is to thank for that.  It’s always been a natural gift for me to step on any field and know I can dominate anyone” said Hardenburger.  That mental toughness will be tested in a strong SEC conference.  Last year the conference finished with nine teams ranked in the final NFCA Top 25 poll.

Peyton plans to major in Sports Marketing while attending Tennessee.  She loves talking about sports and wants to stay involved with sports once her playing career is over. 

Outside of softball, she enjoys giving lessons to younger girls in her area.  She feels like teaching the game allows her to give back to the sport that she loves.  It also helps her stay more engaged with her body and mind. 

Dynamic Addie Frank Makes Her Mark on the Baseball and Softball Diamond

Dynamic Addie Frank Makes Her Mark on the Baseball and Softball Diamond

By Jeff Strange

For Oakville (MO) High School sophomore and Missouri Bombers ’08 Gold/Arizona Peaches athlete Addie Frank, taking an annual trip to train with the USA Women’s National Baseball team in Vero Beach, FL has become a tradition over the past few years. She will be making her way back to the Jackie Robinson facility again in early November as an official prospect in the invite-only Breakthrough Series event that is conducted on behalf of USA Baseball and Major League Baseball.

Quite a prestigious honor for the left-handed hitting/left-handed throwing Frank, who has developed a reputation as one of the top youth female baseball players in the country.

However, shortly after her trip to Florida in early November for the MLB and USA Baseball backed event, Frank will find her way back to the MLB Jackie Robinson Training Center in Vero Beach to participate in the invite-only USA Softball High Performance Program National Selection Event. Often referred to as “The Pipeline to the Women’s National Team,” the USA Softball High Performance Program aims to identify a group of athletes to train, compete and represent USA Softball through national and international competition.

As an athlete that has been highly recognized for her skills in both sports, Frank has come a long ways since she was an 8-year old baseball player hitting bombs over the fence at nearby Affton Athletic Association.

“I started playing baseball because my two older brothers both played and I always played catch with them and went to their games and loved it,” said Frank. “I didn’t even think about playing softball. I just wanted to play baseball. It started being fun in tee ball when I would hit the ball farther and harder than everyone else at Affton – into the woods – and then especially when I was 8 and started pitching baseball games and everyone would cheer for me.”

As her love for baseball grew, Frank found success through various routines such as hitting in the cages, getting defensive reps in and working on her throwing mechanics almost daily. Often, it was her family members that helped build the foundation for her skillset.

“My dad was always my main hitting coach,” said Frank. “I’ve worked with other hitting instructors throughout the years, mainly to tweak little things I’m working on. My brother would hit the ball as hard as he could at me and I would make the plays. He would always laugh and get excited and try to hit it harder and harder. It was a lot of fun and it made it so that I am not afraid of the ball.”

Frank continued to play club baseball through this past summer, usually hitting in the top or middle of the order and started at 1B. She also has spent significant time on the mound, often finding herself pitching on Sunday. Currently slated to play with the Arizona Peaches all girls baseball team, Frank has hopes to one-day play on the USA Women’s National Baseball team.

Those aspirations prompted an eagerness to get onto the softball diamond a little over a year ago. As a freshman at Oakville (MO) High School, Frank tried out for the team and immediately found success, ending her first season with the following awards:

  • 1st Team All-District
  • 1st Team All-Conference
  • 1st Team All-Region
  • 2nd Team All-State
  • 1st Team All-Metro for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Despite the success with softball in her first season, there were some adjustments in the box and in the field that Frank had to initially implement to find her groove.

“At first I struggled with my timing at the plate, and it was a little weird to get used to the pitching,” said Frank. “The pitchers were so close and I was facing some of the best arms around the country and it was hard to know when to load. But then I got used to it, and the ball started looking like a beach ball to me. Defensively, I learned that everything had to be as fast as possible, and you don’t have as much time. I had to be quick.”

Frank’s approach, work ethic and willingness to adjust has also reaped benefits for her achievements.

“Offensively, I think my mechanics and intent make the difference,” said Frank. “With less than 2 strikes, I treat everything like a 3-1 count, looking for something I can hit as hard as I can. When I get two strikes, I battle. Defensively, I have worked hard on having good fielding mechanics and to have quick hands and feet. I’m always looking to get that next out. I just feel like I really understand the game and love to play it. But, I feel like I really started to become athletic when I started working out four times a week. It’s really made a difference for me. Especially in my confidence on the field.”  

In the midst of a productive sophomore campaign, Frank was slashing with a line of .565/.654/.839/1.493 with 35 hits in 62 ABs, including 3 home runs, 6 doubles, 15 walks and 28 runs scored. Perhaps her most proud stat is that she had only struck out once in 78 plate appearances upon submission of this interview.

“When I get two strikes, I battle,” said Addie. “I hate striking out.”

As the conclusion of her 10th grade softball season approaches, the class of 2026 baseball/softball standout has her eyes on her two upcoming Florida events, in addition to joining her Missouri Bombers ’08 Gold softball team and Arizona Peaches baseball team.

Her goals on the softball diamond mimic those on the baseball diamond. The combination of her work ethic and her reputation as a standout in both sports might just lead to uncharted territories.

“You have to work hard and not expect it to be easy,” said Frank. “It takes time and patience. You may not see improvements from day to day. It takes months and years, but when you finally see it, you know it was all worth it. I want to play D1 softball in college and try to play for Team USA Softball. I want to play on the USA Women’s National Baseball team as well. I think it would be a lot of fun to play both baseball and softball for the women’s national teams.”

Carlie Muhlbach Commits to Nebraska

Carlie Muhlbach Commits to Nebraska

When Carlie Muhlbach (2025) announced her commitment to Nebraska it ended a long process that she had thought about since she was 4-years old.  The Gretna High School junior committed to the Huskers on September 3rd, just two days after college coaches are allowed to contact high school juniors.  “There were various schools that I was interested in, but Nebraska was always at the top of my list”, said Muhlbach.

Nebraska felt like home and Muhlbach loved how that feeling she got when she was on campus.  The Husker facilities and coaches were also a major factor in her commitment.  “The facilities were amazing, the program was great, and the coaches were phenomenal”, said Muhlbach.  “It seemed like I had known them for years when I first talked to them!”.

Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle and the Huskers are getting a competitive teammate that can hit for power.  Muhlbach leads Gretna, the No. 1 ranked team in Nebraska, in home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.980) while primarily playing catcher, but also filling in at various other positions.   

Muhlbach’s love for softball started at a young age.  A 4-years old she started playing T-ball and grew into playing travel or club softball from there.  She played on multiple travel teams before joining the Nebraska Gold 16u National team.  One of her fondest memories was when her Nebraska Gold team won the World’s Fastpitch Champions Tournament in Kansas. 

“The hard work, dedication, and commitment really paid off for everyone in the end! It was a fantastic way to wrap up our season”, said Muhlbach. 

Outside of softball Muhlbach throws the shot put and discus in track.  She also enjoys spending time with her dad watching movies, sports, and traveling.