2024 Travel Team Preview: St. Louis Chaos ’09 National Perone-Beatty sets foundation with strong 2023 Fall Season, has eyes set for successful 2024
By Jeff Strange
Coming off a successful fall 2023 campaign, the St. Louis Chaos ’09 National Perone-Beatty squad has established themselves as a top contender on the national scene heading into 2024. The Chaos’ fall successes were highlighted with two impressive first-place finishes, including a 7-1 showing in Oklahoma City at the Top Club National Invite where they battled a tough Vision Gold ’09 team in the championship game, avenging their only loss of the event.
Head Coach Phil Perone’s squad promptly followed up that outing with a 5-0 run in the HFL/Alliance Fall Championship, bringing home another first-place finish and capping off an impressive 12-1 run over their final 13 games.
Top Gun Events Media caught up with Coach Perone to get his feedback on several key elements for his team’s 2024 season and beyond:
Can you give some background information on your coaching staff and coaching styles?
“With four coaches total – Evan Beatty, Adam Oberle, Dave Purves and myself, we are an experienced coaching staff with a combined 50+ years of travel softball, so we have a wealth of knowledge of what works and will not work at the next level. Our style emphasizes paying attention to details and not focusing on winning. If we focus on doing the little things and paying attention to detail on and off the field, winning will take care of itself. In practice, we move at a fast pace while working on the details of each movement and always applying controlled pressure, so the kids are prepared to play fast and confident when they hit the field.”
Can you hit on some key points/highlights from this past season?
“We have had the core for several years now and this past summer was a defining one for us as a group. At one point over the summer, we were left with our eight core players and that is when they ramped up their focus and started to play for each other. They regrouped and began to focus on the importance of TEAM. We won several older aged tournaments, qualifiers, and placed high in a few others, but with our lack of depth, we began to struggle going into the Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series. As a group, we knew that we had to thicken the roster and as the head coach, I knew we were too talented to take this next step without Evan Beatty in our dugout. We have a committed coaching staff and adding Evan’s 25+ years of coaching, knowledge for recruitment, and relationships is a huge advantage for our group as they continue the process of reaching their goals over the next 2-3 years.”
“We received stand out performances from:
- Emily Perone was a key offensive contributor throughout the season.
- Lexi Lohnes has established herself as one of the top two-way talents in the Midwest.
- Kenzie Wieland is a workhorse in the circle and provides big power at the plate.
- Ava Oberle was our most consistent player offensively, defensively, and in the circle. The kid is a softball player…just wants to be on the field and will do anything for the team.
- Peyton Purves also had a great offensive year, but her defense behind the plate is next level; she is one of the best I have coached at that position in my 13 years.
- Jay Haffer solidifies our defense with her great range at Shortstop and in the Outfield. She also offers power and speed on offense as well.
- Katie Oelze has speed and power and was a key contributor in the middle of our lineup. She has come up huge in pressure situations at the plate.
- Carlie Isbell was a new addition for 2023 and is solid behind the plate and at several infield positions. She helps our defense rotations and is one of our vocal leaders.”
Drawing athletes from multiple states, how do you manage any challenges with schedules?
“We will face challenges this upcoming spring with players from 4 different states, so we will navigate it as we go and play local tournaments utilizing players in our organization. Our travel season will begin with our full squad at our organization’s tournament – Hustle City (AFCS qualifier) at the end of May.”
What are your primary goals and objectives for your team?
“This year, our goals are different than what they have been in the past from when I took over this team 5 years ago. I have always had our girls learn multiple positions and sometimes sacrificed wins over learning and growth. In the past, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for us to have three shortstops in a bracket game. 13u and below we feel is all development while competing, and when you do that the winning will eventually take care of itself. We are getting to that point now where the girls are more position oriented with two main spots on the field and it showed in our play this past fall by winning two Alliance Tournaments and securing our AFCS bid to California.”
In your opinion, what traits make your organization unique?
“Being one of the oldest organizations in the region, we have been competitive on the national stage from the start in the early 90’s. During that time, we have remained small and family oriented, focused solely on development of our players on what works at the next level. We have monthly organization workouts at our own facility, which also allows players 24/7-365 access to work out individually. It is a huge luxury to have that asset and as we add players, coaches, and teams, they will immediately be able to take advantage of all the hard work that has been put into our future success.”
Can you give some analysis/perspective on your team for 2024?
“Our team picked up 4 players for the fall to add to our core and we will continue to look for like-minded athletes that want to compete within our group setting and at the highest level nationally. Makenna Johnson is a top 2028 athlete that has rejoined our group and is a huge addition to our lineup as she rotates in at shortstop with Jay Haffer and the outfield. Brylie Mills, Deja Jackson, and Brooke Bucy are all strong athletes that solidify our group with a team first mentality, and it will be fun to watch these players as we move forward. With the addition of these players, we added speed, high average, power, and defense. They bring depth to our group that we lacked as we continue the journey. Our goal this year is to continue to build a champion mindset and that will be reinforced with the addition of Evan to our coaching staff. We want to continue to compete against the best in the country and win; that is our focus and our thoughts as we head into winter workouts. Our Pitching group really turned the corner this fall as they began to focus on their three main pitches that worked in pregame. We limited our free passes our last two tournaments and made it difficult to score with our strong defensive play. We have a solid rotation at the catching position with three players really working well together, keeping each other fresh. We feel the group at any time can eliminate a runner for us, so having them behind the plate as a weapon is a huge advantage moving forward. All of our players have two defensive positions, so our rotations defensively are coming together. We have a great foundation built from the past 5 years and they can now see their dreams are in reach, so the real work begins for our group.”
What are your short-term goals for your team?
“We are putting our kids through a professional evaluation to identify biomechanical deficiencies that may affect performance and precursors for future injury by developing an individual physical therapy and strengthening program for each player after their individual evaluation. The girls will then be professionally evaluated every few months to see their progression, so it is exciting for our organization to be partnered with a company that works with MLB teams and D1 college programs.”
What are your long-term goals for your team?
“I think our long-term goals are whatever the players’ goals are, or continue to be. They drive the bus, and we will be there to guide them along the way. This is their journey; of course we want to compete at the highest level, but we only can do that if they are determined on their individual goals. I told them 5 years ago, we will not fail them and to trust the process in the good and the bad. That thought hasn’t changed and is still discussed within the group. If they continue to trust the proven process developed over years of success, our group will realize their dreams and be able to perform and compete immediately at the next level.”