Event Results: Top Gun Elite 20 16u/18u Spring Invite

By: Madison Feldhahn

The Top Gun Elite 20 16u/18u Spring Invite took place this past weekend at Blue Valley Recreation in Overland Park, KS. The 16u age group featured four pools and the 18u age group had two.

In the 16u age group, Select Fastpitch Reese finished pool games 4-0-0. Both KC Phoenix Bock and Iowa Premier Fastpitch Paz were 3-0-1 in their pool. Nebraska National Taylor, Epic Fastpitch Burnett, and Nebraska Gold deMontel went 3-1-0 through Friday and Saturday. Select Fastpitch Reese scored 46 runs. Firecrackers Wildey scored the next most runs with 36. Top Gun ’08 and Nebraska National Taylor scored 34 and 30 runs, respectively.

Notable wins for the 16u age group this weekend include a 17-0 victory for Firecrackers Wildey over American Freedom 16u Courson. Select Fastpitch Reese defeated American Freedom 16u Courson 18-0. Oklahoma Blaze Gold 16u topped CO Royals Loya 19-3.

Nebraska Quakes Jonas was the only 18u team to go undefeated through pool play. Select Fastpitch Jones, Top Gun National Turner, Iowa Premier Fastpitch Sandstoe, Select Fastpitch Chester, and Diamond Club National 2025 Page all finished pool play 3-1. Both Nebraska Quakes Jonas and Select Fastpitch Chester scored over 30 runs this past weekend, with Quakes Jonas scoring 35 and Select Chester scoring 31.

In the 18u age group, there were a few large wins. Select Fastpitch Chester defeated Marek Fastpitch Academy Nash-Archdekin 10-0. Nebraska Quakes Jonas beat Diamond Club National 2025 Page 11-0. Marek Fastpitch Academy beat Nebraska Thunder Fox 13-1 and Iowa Premier Fastpitch Sandstoe beat Nebraska Gold Jarzobski 12-1.

Bracket play began on Sunday. This was a single elimination bracket.

Epic Fastpitch National 09 Smith was the 16u champion. The team was dominant in bracket play. Their closest win was 6-3. Their largest win margin was a 9-1 against Epic Fastpitch Burnett. Epic Fastpitch National 09 Smith defeated Top Gun 2027 National 6-0 to claim their championship.

In the 18u age group, Select Fastpitch Jones was crowned champion. The team did not allow any runs against them in bracket play. Their closest bracket game was 2-0 against Nebraska Gold National Perkins. In the finals, the team defeated Top Gun National Turner 12-0. This was their largest win of the tournament.

Full Event Results

Thank you to all of the teams who joined us this weekend!

Event Results: Top Gun Cardinal Invite

By: Madison Feldhahn

Top Gun Events collaborated with USA Softball of St. Louis to host the Cardinal Invite this past weekend. The two day event featured age groups 14u, 16u and 18u.

In the 14u age group, 5 teams finished pool play undefeated – Wisconsin Lightning Eichholtz, The Hitting Center Clayton, Top Gun Strange 13u, St. Louis Chaos Premier Gill 14u, and Iowa Elite Force. Both Wisconsin Lightning Eichholtz and St. Louis Premier Gill 14u scored 43 runs this weekend. The Hitting Center Clayton and Top Gun Strange 13u scored 39 runs, and Iowa Elite Force scored 34.

There were several large margins of victory in the 14u age group. Wisconsin Lightning Eichholz beat Top Gun Rains 14u 16-0. St. Louis Chaos Premier Gill 14u beat KC Rebels 2027 National – Olsen 11-0. St. Louis Chaos Premier Gill 14u beat MO Fury 2010 Henkelman 10-0.

The 16u age group had just one pool. Select Fastpitch Alvarado finished pool play undefeated. The team scored 38 runs and allowed just 3 runs against them. Louisville Lady Sluggers Clark 16u finished pool play 2-1-1.

In the 16u age group, there were a few dominating victories. Naturals Regional Wigger defeated Midland Bandits 08 Thompson 16-9. Select Fastpitch Alvarado beat Missouri Mariners National 10-3 and beat Midland Bandits 08 Thompson 14-0.

The 18u age group also had just one pool. St. Louis Heat Gold and Louisville Lady Sluggers Arnold finished pool play 3-0-1. St. Louis Chaos 16u National Roth, Defiance Elite Herweck/Romeril, and MO Bombers Veselske were all 3-1-0 through pool play.

Large victories in the 18u age group include a 16-4 win by Defiance Elite Herweck/Romeril over STL Comets Beatty and a 14-6 win by Louisville Lady Sluggers Arnold over St. Louis Heat Stitching.

Bracket play took place on Sunday. This was a single elimination tournament.

The 14u champion was Wisconsin Lighting Eichholz. They defeated ROI Fastpitch Hull to win their age group. The Lightning started off bracket play with an 11-0 win over MO Fury 2010 Henkelman. They had another impressive victory over Top Gun Strange 13u 8-0.

The 16u champion was Select Fastpitch Alvarado. The team topped Missouri Mariners National 13-3. They defeated Naturals Regional Wigger 10-0 in their first bracket play game.

St. Louis Chaos 16u National Roth defeated St. Louis Heat Gold to become the 18u champion. The team had key victories over Louisville Lady Sluggers Clark 18u, 6-3, and Louisville Lady Sluggers Arnold, 4-1.

Event Results

Thank you to all of the teams who joined us!

Event Preview: Top Gun Cardinal Invite

By: Madison Feldhahn

Top Gun Events is headed to St. Peters, MO this weekend. TGE is hosting the Top Gun Events Cardinal Invite in collaboration with USA Softball of St. Louis. The event will feature 32 teams from Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Pool play begins Saturday at 8:00 AM for all three age divisions. 14u and 16u games will run until 8:15 PM. 18u games will run until 6:30 PM. Bracket play will kick off Sunday at 8:00 AM. The championship games for 14u and 18u will start at 3:00 PM. The 16u championship game starts at 1:15 PM.

VIEW SCHEDULE

Let’s take a closer look at some of the teams joining us.

14u

American Freedom Waggoner

Coaching Staff: Head coach Robert Waggoner and assistant coaches Kyle Kohlberg, Jason Harrell & Kris Juelfs

Team Social Media: @AFSTL2K10 (X), American Freedom Stl2k10 (Facebook) & americanfreedomsports.com

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 4 USSSA first place finishes, 5 USSSA top 3 finishes, total record of 46-19-3, ranked #9 in state, ranked #17 nationally

Key Players: Addyson Juelfs (#17, P/SS/OF, 2028), Annie Alsop (#5, P/1B, 2029), Braylee Davis (#23, OF, 2029), Kylie Kohlberg (#16, C/3B, 2029), Molly Sullivan (#25, P/3B/OF, 2029), Khloe Harrell (#3, 2B/OF, 2029)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Continue to develop while learning to compete at a national level

Black Widows 28/29

Coaching Staff: Head coach Alex Kolakowski and assistant coaches Heather Lessman & Josh Weller

Team Social Media: Black Widows Softball Association- ’10 (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 2nd place at 2024 JP Frozen Ropes Frenzy USSSA Bettendorf IA 14u, 5th of 114 teams at 2023 Road to the Show Oklahoma City, OK USSSA, 1st place at 2023 Shamrock Shake Burlington, IA Perfect Game, 2nd place at 2023 Spring Blast STL (12u playing 14u), 5th of 14 teams at 2023 Missouri East State (12u playing 14u), 1st place at 2023 Angel on our Field USSSA

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: The goal for this season is to play a competitive schedule, compete and get better along the way. We would like to finish the year above the .500 mark.

Carterville Crush 

Coaching Staff: Head coach Eddy Henriksen and assistant coaches Rich Dyer, Ben Seig & Michael Crickman

Team Social Media: Carterville (IL) Crush (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 2022-23 season: 12A – Our team was the 12u A USSSA IL State and Regional Points Champions. Summer 2023: We took 1st place in 2 USSSA events and 2nd place in 2 events. Fall 2023: 13A – We played 3 tournaments and got 3rd place in the Mascoutah Tournament.

Key Players: Our team is full of multi-sport athletes that are capable of playing multiple positions at a high level. Our pitching staff is composed of 4 high-level pitchers who go out and give us an opportunity to win every time we step on the field. We can hit up and down our order, and pride ourselves on being a strong base running team.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Our expectations for this season are to compete with the best competition in the area and the country each weekend. We would love to win some tournaments, but our focus is on developing our girls and preparing them to play at the next level. We seek out the best competition and want to be in a competitive game, win or lose.

MO Fury 2010 Henkelman

Coaching Staff: Head coach Brian Henkelman and assistant coaches Mike Manion, Jeffrey Brown & Jimmy Graham

Team Social Media: MOFury2010 (Facebook) & @MOFury2010 (Instagram & TikTok)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: We started the Fall off hot, taking 1st and 2nd place in our first two tournaments. In our first tournament in March, we played up in a 16u tournament and tied for 3rd place, which gave our girls some confidence as things heat up in the spring.

Key Players: McKarra Graham, who was coming off a stellar 2023 season in the circle, was off to a strong start this season before being sidelined with an injury. Makenze Harrison and Alyna Price have been a “two-headed monster” and battled for the Fury in McKarra’s absence. This will be McKarra’s first tournament back. Olivia Manion and Lizzy Mound lead the way with OBP and stolen bases. Reese Corwin and Taylor Schultz have produced the power in the middle of the lineup. Harper Brown has played shut down defense in the outfield. Peyton Henkelman and Colsie Lange have impressed with timely 2 strike hitting. Total team effort every weekend.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Our expectation for spring is to have these girls challenged and ready to compete every tournament. We would like to win a few tournaments, be above. 500 for the season and have a good showing at Nationals this year. Our focus this year is DEVELOPMENT and making sure these girls are just as strong mentally as they are on the field.

St. Louis Chaos Premier Gill 14u

Coaching Staff: Rachel Gill, Dustin Deckerd & Jason Donnelly

Team Social Media: St. Louis Chaos 2010 (Facebook) & @STLChaos2010 (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Overall 2023 spring/summer record 57-20-4, overall 2023 14u fall record 20-8, currently ranked #1 in Missouri for USSSA in 13u & #2 in the Midwest. Summer 2023: 3rd place at Team 1 Show Me State (Columbia, MO), 1st place at PGF Top Gun Ranger (KC, MO), 1st place at HuSTLe City Invitational, 17th out of 80 at PGF Super Select 12u Championship (Columbia, TN), 2nd place at Team 1 Elite Invitational (KC, MO), 3rd place at PGF Top Gun Patriot (Peoria, IL) & 4th place at USSSA National Championship 12u A (Des Moines IA). 2023 14u Fall: PGF Gladiator (Columbia, TN), 1st place at Strike Out Cancer (O’Fallon, IL), 2nd place at Strike Out Cancer (O’Fallon, IL), 1st place at Pitch for the Cure, HFL Fall Championships – Alliance. Spring 2024: Top 10 finish at PGF Bandits Power 80, 1st place at Easter 1-Day Classic.

Key Players: Kaelyn Deckerd (#31, 2028, P/INF/OF) – pitching speed 62 mph, can throw to both sides of the plate with a curve ball & screw ball along with a rise ball, currently working to master her change up, bat exit velocity 70 mph, fall 2023 BA .373. Maddie Robinson (#10, 2029, C/INF/OF) – pop time 1.77, overhand throwing velocity 64 mph, fall 2023 BA .462, slg .738, 6 2B, 6 triples, 14 stolen bases. Natalie House (#46, 2028, C/INF/OF) – pop time 1.87, fall 2023 BA .442, 6 2B, 12 stolen bases.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: As a first year 14u team, we plan on this year being challenging because we will be playing older girls in our age group and will be playing 16u in some tournaments, which is exactly what we want. This will be a big year for development and growth. Regardless of the opponent, this team competes until the very last pitch!

The Hitting Center Clayton

Coaching Staff: Skip Clayton & Bryan Edmonson

Team Social Media: Hitting Center 2010 (Facebook) & @2010hittingcenter (Instagram)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: The Hitting Center shows great strides in achieving player development every year. It also continues to improve through every element and aspect of the game. We’ve finished within the Top 10 of the toughest and most competitive tournaments in the country on a consistent basis.

Key Players: Kendall Edmonson (#17), Jaelyn Moritz (#15), Carly Clayton (#12), Jemma Lamb (#11) & Nicole Ekhoff (#5)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We would like to continue to develop confidence in ourselves, our teammates, and our overall success within the game. This Hitting Center has already been a major contributor to us reaching our highest caliber as a team and educated us beyond expectations. There is only room for more growth in the upcoming 2024 season.

Top Gun Graf

Coaching Staff: Head coach Brian Graf & assistant coaches Jason Dennis & Mike Kasper

Team Social Media: @TopGunSTL_Graf (X), Top Gun STL 28/29 (Facebook) & topgunstlmach10 (Instagram)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: We went 41-22 last season as a 12A team, playing mostly 14u tourneys. We won 3 tournaments last season, including a 14A tourney. In the fall, we had quite a few girls have successful middle school seasons and went 4-1-1 in our only tourney of the fall at Pitch for the Cure.

Key Players: This group of players have played together since they were 5 years old in tee ball. 9 of the 11 players will play at Troy Buchanan High School. We will be looking for our pitchers to continue to progress with spins and speed and hitters demonstrate more power.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are excited to challenge our players with a higher level of competition as we prepare for most of our girls to enter high school ball this fall. We are looking for our girls to take big steps this season in all areas of the game.

Top Gun Rains 14u

Coaching Staff: Angie & Ryan Rains and Alex Linck

Team Social Media: Top Gun 09 STL (Facebook), topgun09_stl (Instagram) & @topgun09stl (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 2023 summer was focused on challenging ourselves and seeking out the best competition. As a team, we hit .303 with 176 RBIs, 315 total hits, 67 for extra bases, 6 home runs. Fall 2023 was our first fall that a majority of our team playing high school softball, so our schedule looked a bit different only playing 9 games. We added some key additions to our team for the 23/24 season that will be extremely instrumental in our successes for 2024!

Key Players: Rylie Van Cleve & Aubrey Grimm in the circle; Kaylee Daniels plays 1B and hits in the middle of the lineup. She is one of the leaders on our squad on the field, at the plate and in the dugout. Jill Abegg – centerfielder

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are playing a schedule that will once again challenge our squad. We are looking to compete in every game we play both locally and outside of St. Louis. These girls have worked so incredibly hard in the offseason preparing for this season. They have grown so much both mentally and physically. They are truly willing to do whatever it takes! We have set the expectations for ourselves that we will find ourselves in the top group of every event we play. Go out every game, celebrate the little things, compete and get better every pitch, every at bat, every inning and every time we walk off the field, we are better than when we got on it. That is our overall expectation!

Top Gun Strange 13u

Coaching Staff: Jeff Strange, Dennis Swinford, Scott Dixon & Dave Watson

Team Social Media: Top Gun 2010 STL (Facebook) & @TopGun2010STL (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 3 tournament championships, Top 9 finish at USSSA Midwest 12a Nationals

Key Players: Our roster as a whole has girls capable of contributing in any capacity. We feel confident in our upside and firepower in the circle, at the plate, and in the field,

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Ideally, we want to compete in every event this season at a high level while continuing to develop our fundamentals, instincts, and softball IQ as we move into our advanced age-seasons. We kicked off our season with an impressive undefeated tournament victory, then showed signs of continued growth but ultimately stubbed our toes in our second event. We are looking forward to a nice weekend of weather and some great competition as we start to ramp up our 2024 season.

Wisconsin Lightning Eichholz

Coaching Staff: Head coach Allison Eichholz and assistant coaches David Anderson & Jen Kreil

Team Social Media: Wisconsin Lightning 2010 (Facebook) & @2010Wisconsin (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 12u record – 109-23-4 with 9 championships

Key Players: Every player on our team is valued. They all work endlessly to perfect their skills and provide more for the team. Each player can play more than one position to give us the depth that we need to be successful.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Our current record is 51-14-4 for the 13u season with 4 championships. They recently traveled to FL and came home as champions for the PGF Show Me The Money Tournament. I anticipate this team to keep learning and growing at a very elite level. Each and every player brings a full plate to the table. They are all putting the working in at practice and outside of practice. They’re a very special group who really believes in Mudita.

16u

Defiance Elite 16u Granquist

Coaching Staff: Head coach Kristen Granquist

Team Social Media: @defianceelite (X, Facebook, Instagram & TikTok)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: #1 ranked 14u team in USA Softball St. Louis, Finalist at Perfect Game STL Showcase (March ’24)

Key Players: Brookley Ware (2027 Parkway South, SS) – our X-factor, Izzie May (2026 North Point, INF/C) – our consistent contributor, Morgan Murphy (2026 Liberty Wentzville, C/INF) – our long ball threat, Gwen Newton (2027 St. Francis Borgia), Kenzie Ellison (2026 Francis Howell, RHP) – our workhorse

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We have high expectations for our team this season. We’re compromised of the strong core of our 14u team from last year, plus two of our best performers from last year’s 16u team and three newcomers to the club. Our schedule is packed with numerous HFL events and we look forward to seeing how this team can compete with some of the best competition around.

18u

Illinois Esprit McManus

Coaching Staff: Head coach Mike McManus and assistant coaches Brandon Branon, Ron Donoho & TJ Burge

Team Social Media: @18IllEsprit (X) & Illinois Esprit-18U (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: We lost five college-bound freshman players at the end of summer of 2023. Won our first event of the fall and made the semis of three other events.

Key Players: Mo Hance (2024, CF, Eastern Illinois commit), Ryle Branon (2024 P/UTL, Southwestern Illinois College commit), Lauren Burge (2025, P/UTL, uncommitted), Kaitlyn Drew (2024, P/UTL, Danville Area CC commit) & Sophie Donoho (2024, P, Kaskaskia College commit)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: This team consists of three of our full-time players and then we added eight girls who, for various reasons, opt not to play spring school ball. We are young – seven of our girls are 16u eligible. So, we are getting to know them and they us. We like what we have, but we very much are a work in progress. Many of these young women are seeing this level of competition for the first time. We just want to compete and give ourselves a chance to win at the end.

Event Preview: Top Gun Elite 20 16u/18u Spring Invite

By: Madison Feldhahn

Thirty-three teams are joining us at the Top Gun Elite 20 16u/18u Spring Invite in Overland Park, KS this weekend. The three-day event will feature teams from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and Kansas.

The 16u age group will have four pools and the 18u age group will have two. Pool play starts Friday with games at 6:00 PM and 7:45 PM. Games will resume Saturday at 8:00 AM. The last pool play games will start at 8:15 PM.

Bracket play for the 16u teams will start Sunday at 9:00 AM and the championship game will start at 5:45 PM. The 18u teams will begin bracket play at 10:45 AM. Their championship game kicks off at 5:45 PM.

View Schedule

Gate Fees:

Children (1-12): $5.00

Teens & Adults (13-64): $10.00

Senior (65+): $5.00

Military: $5.00

Take a look at some of the teams joining us below.

16u

KC Phoenix Bock

Coaching Staff: Jen Bock (former JCCC & UMKC player) and Russ Endsor (former player, long time coach, ling time coach, former college coach)

Team Social Media: @KCPhoenix_JB (X)

2024 Summer & Fall Successes: Ended the season 26-17-2 on a season where we tackled our first TG events and invitationals. Were 4-1 in the Team 1 Club Challenge (rained out), USSSA Memorial Day 18A champions, Jayhawk HAS runner-up, tied for 17th in the WFC in KC with unfortunate injuries

Key Players: Shelby Callahan (2027 MI/OF), Enslie Dreyer (2026 P/1B), Mandia Bock (2027 P/MI/UT), Gracie Cox (2026 C), Mattie Marchetti (2027 OF), Makayla McConnel (2026 3B/UT) & Evey Atkinson (2027 OF/MI)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We have all talented multisport athletes so spring will be a season of versatility as we learn to ‘next girl up’ when someone is missing at a position for track, soccer, lacrosse, basketball and even band competitions. We will really focus on softball IQ overall so that we can handle moving positions and still compete. No doubt that we are growing coachable, athletic players who are learning. Spring is all about reps and growth – competing at higher levels and we’ll shift more focus on ‘winning’ this summer.

Louisville Lady Sluggers

Coaching Staff: Head coach Joel Lovelady and assistant coach Joe Shearer

Team Social Media: @ladysluggersred (X), Louisville_sluggers07_lovelady (Instagram) & Louisville Lady Sluggers Lovelady (Facebook)

2024 Summer & Fall Successes: In the spring of 2023 and fall season, the Lady Sluggers Lovelady played a challenging schedule, traveling throughout the Midwest and continued to push their ladies vs great competition.

Key Players: The young group of Sluggers are made up of several familiar faces with returners like 2025 uncommitted Emma Downing and 2026’s Carsen Lovelady, Ora Prichett, Tori Shearer, and Addie Schneider. Fall added talent with the addition of Brailyn Fox, Hunter Anderson-Jones, and Addison Snyder. The ball will be in the hands of Downing, Snyder, Fox, and Anderson-Jones. The defense will see Lovelady, Shearer, Schneider, and Snyder display their versatility moving around the field.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: The Sluggers expect to compete on every pitch, trust the process, and get better every day. The Sluggers will continue to improve as the season continues and Gracie Abercrombie and Kinsey Bebb return following their HS seasons.

Nebraska Gold deMontel

Coaching Staff: Head coach Jimmy deMontel and assistant coach Jake Douglas

Team Social Media: @NEGoldDeMontel (X)

2024 Summer & Fall Successes: 37-14-4, runner up USA Memorial Day 16 Gold division, 5-0 Top Gun Spring Invite Viper division, 6-0 Top Gun Patriot, Top 8 finish in USSSA WFPC KC

Key Players: Amanda Gibilisco (2025), Tarisa Frans (2025), Bridget Whitney (2025), Makenna Watkins (2025), Haley deMontel (2025), Lily Rowe (2025), Miley Rowe (2025), Ashley Duis (2025) & Avery Wolfe (2025)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Expect a strong pitching staff with depth to carry us deep into tournaments this summer

Nebraska National Taylor

Coaching Staff: Brett Taylor & Kirsten Dargy

Team Social Media: @NENational08 (Twitter)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes:

-42-29-3 playing an elite level schedule last season

-1st Place at Top Gun NE National Tourney

-2nd Place at Top Gun Thunder/NE Gold Tourney

-2nd Place at USSSA 16) Swing into Spring

-3rd Place at Top Gun Swing into Spring Tourney

-4th Place at USSSA SEC National Championship

-7 Top 4 finishes out of 10 tournaments (not including rain shortened/canceled tournaments)

-14U PGF Nationals at large bid (Platinum Division)

Key Players:

-Maizey Carpenter

-Toria Rother

-Lauren Schneider

-Elli Ridgley

-Alexa Taylor

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are an improved team over last year. We have a great group of girls and parents. Our goal as coaches is to continue to develop our players to help them reach their potential.

Nebraska Quakes Schueth

Coaching Staff: Head coach JJ Schueth and assistant coaches Jamie Anderson, Carolyn Anderson & Kim Leggott

Team Social Media: @QuakesSchueth (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Great season playing super competitive schedule, won a couple tournaments and finalists

Key Players: Our pitching staff in the circle – Abby Leggott, Anna Taylor, and Sammie Brodersen. These girls are great competitors and when they are on their game, it makes us a better team. At the play, we are looking for our lefty’s to really get us rolling – Kaylee Taylor, Hannah Heuton and Reese Kuiken. When these girls get on base, it really fires up the team!!

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Play as a team, have success at the plate and play to the highest level. When these girls are having fun and working together, they are hard to beat. We want these girls to play their absolute best, win or lose. Be able to learn from their successes or struggles and use that as fuel to help them and their team get better.

Nebraska Thunder Johnson

Coaching Staff: Head Coach Bruce Johnson & Assistant Coaches Alana Crollard & Antonio Torrez
Team Social Media: @nethunder22 (X) & @nebraskathundergoldjohnson (IG)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes:

-Top Gun NE Memorial Day Classic Champions in Omaha

-USSSA Big Opener Runner-ups in Minnesota

-USSSA Angels for Autism for Runner-up (HS Division) in Omaha

-USSSA Easter Egg Strikeout Champions (HS Division) in Omaha

-USSSA Season Opener GG 3rd place overall finish in Overland Park

-USSSA Stand UP to Cancer 3rd place overall in Kansas City

Key Players:

-Ada Jantzen

-Kendall Johnson

-Kinnley Wehrle

-Peyton Johnson

-Ava Crollard

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We expect to compete for championships at all of our tournaments and start to make a name for ourselves nationally.

Select Fastpitch Reese

Coaching Staff: Krista Reese (Head Coach) & Jason Bailey (Asst. Coach)

Team Social Media: @StLouisSoftball (Twitter) & Select Fastpitch-16U STL (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes:

-Finished in top 16 of Power Pools in Scenic City Summer

-Finished 3rd at Savvy Softball Elite Summer Invite

-Finished in top 16 in Alliance Open Nationals

-Finished with a record of 5-2 at Tulsa Elite Summer Invite

Key Players: Sarah Rizello (P) leads the team with 51 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. She has an ERA of 2.1 so far this spring. Elia Cabo and Abby Kriete anchor the outfield.   Cabo has a batting avg of .515 which leads the team while batting leadoff.  Kriete is batting .406 with 11 RBI in the two hole. Kaylee Brock (SS) locks down the left side of the infield. She’s batting .474 this season and her range and exceptional arm strength anchor the infield defense. Baylie Roetemeyer does an exceptional job behind the plate and at 3B.  She’s batting .421 on the season and her defense and strong arm limit the opponent’s run game.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Select Fastpitch, formerly St. Louis Softball Club, looks to build on the success they had in 2023 with a qualifying bid to the Alliance Championships in Indianapolis. We expect to have all of our 2025 graduates signed by the end of the season, and we are excited for what the future holds for our 2026 grabs and expect several commitments in the fall.

Top Gun 2027 National

Coaching Staff: Head Coach Stephanie Kim & Assistant Coaches Matt Griffin & Amanda Schuster

Team Social Media: @topgun_skim (Twitter), @coachstephkim (TikTok) & Top Gun 2027 NTL (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Last season, as a 13U team, our proudest finish was placing 9th at the IDT. We were champs of Top Gun Discovery, runner up at the Alliance Super Cup this fall in Clear Water, and finished Top 3 in a 16u Perfect Game Showcase and Savvy Summer Shootout. Our team hit 50+ homeruns in spring/summer of 2023 and ranked #45 in US Club Rankings. Four of our players earned 3rd place in Missouri State Championships as freshman. Three of our freshmen earned All-State honors and five earned Academic All-State. In March, we kicked off the season with a strong showing in the Top Gun Indoor Invite 16/18 going 5-0. We outscored opponents 41-5 with a team .894 ERA and .390 AVG.

Key Players: We have multiple players already receiving Power 5 interest. Some of our top producers include: Bryli Seifert (2027, MIF/OF) – Hit 19 2B, 2 3B and 10 HR. She is one of our top offensive producers and is Top 3 in most categories on our team. 2027 Bailey Barnett (2027, SS/3B/C) – She led our team this summer in nearly every offensive category. Molly Munson (2027, LHP/1B) – 5’9 strong pitcher with intense presence on the mount. Top 100 in 2027 Extra Innings. Addison Ellis (2028, LHP) – In our last tourney this fall (Clearwater Alliance Super Cup), she pitched 15 IP and 25 K with a .457 ERA and only gave up 3 hits. Zariya Mabion (2027, OF/UTL) – Z is one of the most athletic players in the 2027 class. She is ranked Top 25 in the 2027 Extra Innings. Back from an ACL injury.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: It’s about exposure and opportunities for these young women. Our expectation is to play and COMPETE against the best competition in the country, As a second year 14u team, we will be playing up in 16u until June. Once June hits…it’s on. Our summer recruiting schedule includes: Hotshots Summer Exposure in TX, Top Gun Invitational-Maverick in KC, and then we head to Colorado for the Patriot Games, Super Cup, and IDT. We come back to KC to play in the Top Gun Elite Championships to prepare for PGF Nationals to finish out our season.

18u

Nebraska Gold Jarzobski

Coaching Staff: Edward Jarzobski (9th year coaching competitive softball), Maurice Anderson (10th year coaching competitive softball, NE Gold coach Team Anderson and Softball President MUS) & Dave Hobza (7th year coaching competitive softball)

Team Social Media: @negold18u (Twitter)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes:

-6 seniors went on to play in college (1 D1, 1 D2, 1 D3, 3 NAIA)

-All 12 of our current seniors are committed to play in college (2 D1, 4 D2, 6 NAIA)

Key Players:

-Mackenzie Groniga

-Emi Waldow

-Katelyn Jarzobski

-Addy Hobza

-Kriestyn Linn

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Goal is to finish top 4 Top Gun Viper and top 10 in Top Gun Championship

Nebraska Gold National Perkins

Coaching Staff: Chad Perkins, McKenna Nixon, Jesse Waller and Bill Heard

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Top Club Spring Champions, Top 8 finish Colorado, WFC winner

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Will play a strong schedule. Hope to be competitive.

Nebraska Thunder Fox

Coaching Staff: William Fox (returning to the head coach position after 3 years as an assistant) & Brent Wonder (10 years of head coaching experience in both baseball and softball)

Team Social Media: NeThunder Fastpitch (Facebook), @nebraskathunder18u2024 (IG), @Nethunderf (Twitter) & 18U Thunder Gold (Fox) (SportsRecruits)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Our 4 graduating seniors committed and continued their athletic careers at the collegiate level (Barton College, Chadron State, Northwestern College and Highland CC), Fall resulted in 2 additional commitments (Concordia & Central CC)

Key Players: Ayla Mathney – committed to Calumet College of St. Joseph, a leader in the circle, Joslyn Sargent – junior at Ashland High School, new to our roster, she looks to make a statement at SS and in our lineup, Kaylee Tanuis – senior from Papillion-LaVista Class A State Champions, she is a vital and diverse player on our roster, Macey West – multi-sport athlete expanding her abilities and strengths as a UTL

Expectations for the 2024 Spring Season: With 3 returning players, we are looking for a season of growth and development. Develop a new team culture, drive athletes to become competitors, teammates, and family, achieve player goals on and off field, and continue the tradition of collegiate commitments

Top Gun National Turner

Coaching Staff:  Bob Turner, Joe Sciara, Brent Wilhelm, David Rocha, Allen Curtis

Team Social Media Handles: @TGA_Turner / @TGASciara

2023 Summer & Fall Successes:  18 National finished 3rd in US Club Rankings after taking 3rd at Triple Crown Nationals, 5th in CO Sparkler Power Pool, and 5th at USA Gold Nationals

Key Players:  Sydney Boulaphinh (Stanford), Taylor Troutman (Miss State), Abby Wilhelm (Missouri), Kennedy Diggs (Kansas), Lorin Boutte (Miami of Ohio), Carrie Green (So Miss), Anna McGowan (NC State), Kam Munson (NC State), Gretta Grassel (Miss St), Macie Hunolt (North Florida), Grace Shaw (North Florida), Nat Kenyatta (Michigan State), Jordyn Thurman (Mizzou), Sophia Camacho (Florida Atlantic), Gianni Torres (2026), Sage Rodmyre (2025 Undecided), Hayden Kurtz (Southern Illinois), Sierra Persinger (UNC Wilmington)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Expectations are another tremendously competitive season with an elite schedule, helping this outstanding group of seniors prepare for their freshman seasons in the fall.  Looking forward to pursuing a national championship this summer with a special group of players and families.

 

2024 Travel Team Preview: Wisconsin Lightning 13u 2028/2029

By: Jeff Strange

Coming off a highly successful 2023 campaign that included over 100 wins and nine 1st place finishes, the Wisconsin Lightning 2028/2029 squad coached by Allison Eichholz has hit the ground running early on for the 2024 season.

Traveling to Newberry, Florida in early March for the PGF Show Me The Money tournament, the WI Lightning were tested early on.

“We had one game that we lost on ground ball errors,” said Eichholz. “The turf was different and we simply struggled with routine ground balls. Rachel Dahl was on the mound with stellar composure. She did her job well! After that game, we found an open field and conquered the challenges from the different turf. They never looked back and came home as champions from the PGF Show Me The Money tournament! There is always a chance to learn and grow in the game of softball and life.”

From there, Eichholz’s squad traveled to Burlington, IA to compete in the PG Shamrock Showdown event. Once again, the Wisconsin Lightning 2028/2029 were tested but battled throughout the event.

“We had some very big team wins in our last PG tournament in Burlington,” said Eichholz. “In one game, we were down 0-3 and made a pitching change. Meanwhile, the girls kept their composure, and kept chipping away. We ended up with bases loaded and Leia Baran up to bat; she hit a ground rule double to tie up the game. Rachel Dahl came up next and drove in the winning run. They never gave up!”

Having played their way into the title game in the dome hosting the event, the Lightning saved their best for last as they brought home the championship.

“In the championship game, Leona Eichholz threw a no-hitter with 20 strikeouts and reached a new in-game personal record for her pitching velocity reaching 65 m.p.h.,” said Eichholz. “After two innings of international tie breaker, Sophia Abundiz crushed a line drive to left field to seal the victory for the entire tournament. The team and fans went wild – it gave me goosebumps!”

The Wisconsin Lightning 2028/2029 are traveling to St. Louis, MO to compete in the Top Gun Events Cardinal Invite this weekend. We caught up with coach Eichholz to get insight into her outlook for the remainder of the 2024 season:

Can you give some background information on your coaching staff and coaching styles? 

“I have an Elementary Education background and have coached and ran programs from t-ball, soccer, and to the USA All-American team in 2022 and 2023. My coaching style is firm but loving. You have to have the “classroom management” established from the beginning of the season. The players need to know that there are expectations for everyone to put the work in at practice and also outside of practice. They also need to know that this is a game of failure and our team is a safe place to fail. You cannot expect to grow and learn, if you do not fail.

Our highly motivational trainer, Bez Hidri with Hidri Sports Fitness, comes in to guide and inspire the girls to reach new goals. He’s amazing!

We also place a lot of emphasis on Mudita. They celebrate each other’s victories like they are their own. It’s a special group!”

Does your team face any challenges with schedules (drawing athletes from multiple states, perhaps)? If yes, how do you manage that?

“We generally draw players from Wisconsin and Illinois. Everyone on our team is pretty dedicated to the team and the path that they are on. It’s a special group. The majority of the team played a second sport at some point in the season thus far. It was a little challenging, but it is also good for them to work different muscles and get the social aspect of playing with their school friends in junior high.”

What are your primary goals and objectives for your team?

“My primary goal for this team is to give them a safe place to grow, learn, and fail. They are our future! They self-evaluate after every tournament. The girls document what they did well, what they’d like to improve on, and also record what their teammates did well. There are life lessons with every up and down that they come across.”

In your opinion, what traits make your organization unique?

“Wisconsin Lightning is very much a family atmosphere. We practice 3 days a week and spend a lot of time together on and off the field. Everyone does their best to attend practices. If a player is playing a second sport and cannot attend their regular scheduled practice, another coach will always welcome them into their practice. We are also very fortunate to have a great relationship with our high school and college players. Many of them come into our practices, give them lessons, and take the time to listen and guide our players outside of practice.”

Can you give some analysis/perspective on your team for 2024?

“This is a hungry team fueled by Mudita. They’ve had tremendous physical and mental growth in the first half of the season. They will fight and support each other in every pitch of every game. They’re already a special group. The continued physical and mental growth that is ahead of them will take them very far in life and in the game of softball.

We feel that we have the depth to keep us going deep into many championship wins. Every player on this team can play multiple positions. They all know that every position is important and have a hunger to perfect their skills to master each one. They’re instinctively in-tune with each other and move as one.

  • For offense, we have a deep pool of talent:
    • Ella Anderson and Riley Barda are insane triple threats. Their base running will test the best catchers around.
    • McKynna Szymandera, Leona Eichholz, Rachel Dahl and Hailey Campos are power hitters who can put one over and also lay down a bunt.
    • Leia Baran and Sophia Abundiz have been some of the best clutch hitters around.
    • Sabrina Wiedman and Emma Bottcher are true team players who will always do whatever is needed to get the job done.
  • In the circle we are very strong as well:
    • Leona Eichholz is a mental and physical beast! Nothing rattles her on the mound. She finished her 12U season just shy of 600 K’s and is already well over 300 for this 13U season.
    • Rachel Dahl has grown leaps and bounds with her mental game and mound presence. She can make her opponents look foolish with her spin and movement.
    • Sophia Abundiz has dug deep and really come through when we needed her in the circle and at the plate. She is a true team player on several levels!
  • Both of our catchers take their role as being the boss of the field very seriously. They work tirelessly perfecting their framing, blocking, and lethal throwdowns.
    • Libby Kreil has a gun that will halt the fastest base runner.
    • Leia Baran is a quick jackrabbit who can block the toughest drop ball.
  • Our infield typically consists of this strong group:
    • Riley Barda, Leia Baran Sophia Abundiz, Emma Bottcher, McKynna Szymandera and Leona Eichholz all play a quick and solid defense that can shut down the filthiest bunt and smother the hardest hit ball to make the quick and textbook collection of outs. They’re always talking and moving to stay engaged during every pitch.
  • Our outfield is very strong as well, consisting of this group:
    • Ella Anderson, Sabrina Wiedman, Hailey Campos, Rachel Dahl and Libby Kreil are like gazelles in the outfield. There is always 110% effort and knowledge of where the next play is.

What are your short-term goals for your team?

“My short-term goals are for the team to stay hungry and humble.”

What are your long-term goals for your team?

“My long-term goals for this team is to see each and every one of them play in college. When their cleats have been left on the dirt for the last time and they’re living their best adult lives, I hope that I am still a part of all of their lives.”

Event Recap: Nebraska Thunder Fundraiser powered by TGE

By: Madison Feldhahn

In the 14u age group, the teams were split into three pools. Iowa Aries Elite Ohorilko, Millard Fury Gold Vance, and NE Storm Prime Bachman 13u all went undefeated through pool play. Millard Fury Gold Vance led the pool standings in runs scored with 31. Iowa Aries Elite Ohorilko scored 27 runs and did not allow any against them.

The 16u age group had four pools. There were dominant performances from several teams. Nebraska National Taylor 16u, Nebraska Thunder Johnson, Nebraska Thunder Dillon, and Nebraska Cougars Behounek led their respective pools, going undefeated.

The 18u age group was split into two pools. Nebraska National Hoelscher and Nebraska Quakes Jonas finished the pool play undefeated. Nebraska Quakes Jonas scored 31 runs while allowing only 9 runs.

Bracket play took place on Sunday.

The 14u champion was Iowa Aries Elite Ohorilko. The team had a dominant performance from start to finish. The team had just four runs scored against them in a game against Millard Fury Gold Ruelas in the semifinal. Outside that game, the closest score was 6-0 against Nebraska Thunder Bennett.

Iowa Aries Elite Ohorilko faced Nebraska Storm Prime Bachman 13u in the final. Iowa Aries won 19-0. In total, the team scored 32 runs during bracket play alone. The team scored 59 runs across the entire weekend.

Primetime Eadus walked away the 16u champion. After finishing 2-1 in bracket play, Primetime Eadus was a two-seed. The team put up a good fight during bracket play, scoring 21 runs and allowing just 7 runs. Their largest margin of win was 8-1 against Nebraska Cougars Behounek. Primetime Eadus beat Nebraska National Taylor 16u 4-3 to win the bracket.

The winner of the 18u bracket was Nebraska National 18u Bahl. The team finished second in the Pool A after going 2-0-1. In bracket play, the team’s closest game was 3-2 against Prodigy Fastpitch Roth. Their largest margin of win was 10-4 against Nebraska Quakes Bowen. In the final, Nebraska National 18u Bahl defeated Nebraska Echoes Madsen 5-2. Sydney Mennenga scored a home run in the finals for Nebraska National 18u Bahl.

Thank you to the teams who participated in the Nebraska Thunder Fundraiser Powered by Top Gun Events this past weekend!

Event Preview: Nebraska Thunder Fundraiser

By: Madison Feldhahn

The Nebraska Thunder Fundraiser powered by Top Gun Events runs from April 5 to April 7 in Papillion, NE. Top Gun Events is excited to host the event in conjunction with the Nebraska Thunder/Gold Organization. This event will feature thirty-nine teams from Nebraska, Iowa and Canada.

Each team will play three pool play games before starting bracket play. This is a single elimination bracket and the champion of each division will receive a berth to the 2024 Top Gun Invitational. Pool play for both the 16U and 18U division will kick off at 6:00 PM on Friday. 14U will begin at 7:35 PM Friday. Games will run from 9:00 AM to 8:05 PM on Saturday and from 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM Sunday.

Gate Fees:

Children (1-12): $5.00

Teens & Adults (13-64): $10.00

Senior (65+): $5.00

Military: Free

Take a closer look at some of the teams joining us below.

14U

Iowa Aries Elite Ohorilko

Coaching Staff: Brian Ohorilko & Kari Price

Team Social Media Handles: @Iowa_Aries (X), Iowa Aries Fastpitch (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Fall Champions of: Team 1/Alliance FP STL Xposure Fall Invite in St. Louis, MO, PGF Diamond Legacy Shootout & Showcase in Broken Arrow, OK, PG Iowa City Scouting Showcase #1 in Iowa City, IA, PG Elite 16 Illinois Scouting Showcase in Peoria, IL, PG Elite 16 Minnesota Scouting Showcase in Minneapolis, MN, USSSA CIS Spooktacular in Des Moines, IA

Key Players: Berkley Weiland (SS/OF) – RH/Throw, LH/Hit. Slapper. Amazing speed. Great defensive player. Kaylan Pray (SS/UTL) – RH/Throw & Hit. Excellent hitter & defensive player. Ivy Ohorilko (C/UTL) – RH/Throw & Hit. Power hitter, excellent defensive player. Karter Price (P/UTL) – RH/Throw & Hit. Excellent pitcher. Leela Appeldorn (MIF/UTL) – RH/Throw, LH/Hit. Excellent hitter and defensive player.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Iowa Aries encourages our high school players to participate in high school softball this time of year. The program will have a very light tournament and travel schedule this spring and summer supplement our player’s high school workouts. We cannot wait to get back in full swing fall of 2024.

Millard Fury Gold Vance

Coaching Staff: Mark Vance, Ryan Boozikee & Charles Starkovich

Team Social Media Handles: @FuryGoldVance (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Finished the year 56-25, NE Class B USSSA State Champions, USSSA Midwest Nationals Open Silver Bracket National Champions, Finished the year off winning the 14U Boo Bash in Lincoln, NE

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: For 2023-24, we have changed organizations to provide better exposure for our players and enable us as coaches to assist those that want to play college softball. We are playing a very tough schedule at A and Open level and, with the move to the new organization, we are getting opportunities to play against better competition to help our team grow. We have very big goals for the year and it might not show at the end of the year in our record. But we, as coaches, wanted to challenge our girls and we have seen them step up already through winter workouts. We have never had a more cohesive team and such a great group of girls from attitude to effort across the board.

Nebraska Quakes Carson ‘09

Coaching Staff: Jen Carson (Head Coach) & Assistants Lynn Griffis, Susan Stagid & Sarah Gutschow

Team Social Media Handles: @NEQuakesCarson

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Tied for 9th in the USSSA Midwest Championship, 1st Place at Under Armour Championship in KC, 1st Place in York in 16U Division, 3rd Place in USSSA Super 48 Invitational in KC, 1st Place in Blair Invite, 2nd Place at Heroes Classic in Hastings, 7th Place at USSSA 16U State

Key Players: Paityn Spencer, Alex Finley, Lexi Skradski, Hope Stadig, Liv Wenz

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are looking to challenge ourselves each time we step foot on the field. We want to compete with the best teams locally and out of state. Win or lose, we seek to get better each game and practice to develop as a team, as individual players, and as humans.

Nebraska Quakes Chonis

Coaching Staff: Don Chonis (Head Coach) & Assistants Karlie Chonis, Casie Volkmar & Bryan Nielsen

Team Social Media Handles: @NEQuakesGold13U (X), nequakesgold_13u (Instagram) & Nebraska Quakes Gold Chonis (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: New Team

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: To compete at the Class A/Gold level & get ready for the jump to high school

Nebraska Thunder Bennett

Coaching Staff: Jenny Bennett, Kurt Pohlmann & Jake Bergren

Team Social Media Handles: @NThunderBennett (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 1st Place in the Jayhawk Slugfest, 2nd Place in the Kansas City Memorial Tournament, 2nd in the Nebraska State Tournament

Key Players: Kaylee Huffman, Addalynne Bergren, Allie Bergman, Aurelia Gramd

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are looking for our girls to compete with confidence, have fun and continue to love the game.

16U

Nebraska National Taylor 16u

Coaching Staff: Brett Taylor & Kirsten Dargy

Team Social Media: @NENational08 (Twitter)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 42-29-3 playing an elite level schedule last season, 1st Place at Top Gun NE National Tourney, 2nd Place at Top Gun Thunder/NE Gold Tourney, 2nd Place at USSSA 16) Swing into Spring, 3rd Place at Top Gun Swing into Spring Tourney, 4th Place at USSSA SEC National Championship, 7 Top 4 finishes out of 10 tournaments (not including rain shortened/cancelled tournaments), 14U PGF Nationals at large bid (Platinum Division)

Key Players:Maizey Carpenter, Toria Rother, Lauren Schneider, Elli Ridgley, Alexa Taylor

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are an improved team over last year. We have a great group of girls and parents. Our goal as coaches is to continue to develop our players to help them reach their potential.

Nebraska Quakes Gilpin

Coaching Staff: Don Gilpin (Head Coach), Steve Asher (Assistant Coach) & Rob Novak (Assistant Coach)
Team Social Media:
@NEQuakesGilpin (X) & NE Quakes Gold 15U Gilpin (SportsRecruits)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 51-23-5 record in 2023, in 14A/HS class, 1st place USSSA Battle for the Bling 14A NIT, 2nd place Bennington Spring Bash HS, 2nd place Quakes Classic, 1st place KS/MO 14A State Tournament, 3rd place Ringneck 14A

Key Players: A strong core group of players that has grown together for several years. Each player on this roster has a high set of expectations and will contribute greatly to our successes in 2024.

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: As a young 15U team returning our entire roster from 2023, we will be looking to continue challenging our players and building upon previous successes, as we prepare them to compete at the next level. A serious pitching staff, backed up by solid defense, and a dangerous batting lineup sets the bar high for this young group of outstanding athletes!

Nebraska WAVE Bergantzel

Coaching Staff: Head Coach Blaine Bergantzel, Assistant Angela Hagaman, Assistant Rich Chubbuck and Student Assistant Madison Tilson
Team Social Media:
@NEWavesFastpitch (X) & Nebraska Wave – Bergantzel (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: NE WAVE 15U is a newer team for 2024.

Key Players: Team consists of players from Hiawatha, KS., Gretna, Lincoln and surrounding communities

Shaylee Heidtbrink (2026 P/UTL), Allarie Wilson (2027 P), Molly Bergantzel (2027 P/UTL), Taylor Price (2027 2B/P), Samantha Hagaman (2027 SS/3B), Madison Chubbuck (2026 C/SS), Chloe Torticill (2026 SS/IF), Bella Determan (2027 MI/OF), Morgan Tilson (2026 1B), Kylee Thompsom (2026 OF), Sahara Meyers (2026 OF/C), Emmy Sheldon (2026 OF)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Off the field, player expectations are focused around mentally preparing for game management, game knowledge, and understanding at a fast pace has been a focus this off season.

Primetime Chavez

Coaching Staff: Juan Chavez, Brooke Campbell & Lisa Timmins
Team Social Media:
@Primetime07_ (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Primetime 07 was able to overcome several challenges last summer, making them a better team. One of our catchers had a torn labrum, and we had a pitcher that had an arm injury. Despite having significant injuries to a couple players we had a successful season. In the fall, we had 3 of our players lead Ashland HS to its first state softball title in school history in Class C. The 3 players were Reese Fisher, Ellie Milburn, and Sofia Dill. A group of sophomore that led the way and became the team leaders while motivating and supporting the rest of their team to a championship. We had another player, Jordyn Campbell, win a state championship in girls wrestling at 125 as a sophomore. Plus, we have several other players that contributed to their high school softball season this past fall as sophomores and juniors.

Key Players: Chloe Rauner, Reese Fisher, Jordyn Campbell, Ellie Milburn, Sloane Gregory, Tessa Carrell, Morgan Timmins, Teagan Noelle

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Expectations for the team are to be a better player and person after the season. To make more memories with each other and to always battle to the very end. This is a resilient group of girls who love to compete at everything they do.

Primetime Eadus

Coaching Staff: Mike Leapley
Team Social Media:
@primetimenesb

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Winter Warmup Champions, Eggstravaganza Champions, 2nd Place USA Memorial Day Weekend KC, Pink Out Champions

Key Players: Hannah Miller, Hadley Hansen, Jaycee Woodard, Mace Cruse, Kennedy Drummond

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Play at a high level and compete

Primetime Weis

Coaching Staff: Kaitlyn Weis, Ron Weis, Chris Barton & Dan Gudenrath
Team Social Media:
@primetimeweis (X)

Key Players: Audrey Kohl – Pitcher from Missouri Valley, Emerson Anderson – Catcher/3B/Utility from Missouri Valley, Amanda Weis – SS/Catcher/Utility from Gretna East HS, Rylan Anderson – OF from Gretna East HS, Kenadie Barton – OF from Gretna HS, Cindy Xiong – Pitcher/Utility from Millard South HS

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Compete with the best and grow individually and as a team

18U

Nebraska Echoes Madsen

Coaching Staff: Brad Madsen, Brandon Brink, Abigail Brink & Jeff Rasmussen

Team Social Media: @bradm198 (Twitter) & NE Echoes 18U National Madsen (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: 52-19-4 in summer, Runner-up at Memorial Day USA 16U, 6-0 in fall, CIS Winner

Key Players: Teya Speltz, Charlie Pryor, Teygan Rasmussen (new addition), Brianna Kutschkau (new addition)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: As a 1st year 18U team, the plan is to keep competing at a high level. Be that team others don’t want to see on their schedule.

Nebraska National 18u Bahl

Coaching Staff: Head Coach Hayden Bahl & Assistant Coaches Emma Walbert & Jordy Bahl
Team Social Media:
@NENational18u (X)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Champions of the 18u Quakes Classic, Runner-up in the 16u Nebraska Thunder Fundraiser tournament, 16u Perfect Game OKC Challenge, Team record of 33-16-5

Key Players: We are very excited about what each player on our team is capable of, as we have seen amazing growth from so many of them!

Addison Burdorf (P/2B), Macie Wyman (3B/1B), Maycie Grant (SS/2B), Alivia Courter (C/2B), Lauren Frihauf (CF/LF)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We are very excited about what we have seen from the team this offseason, and we love how this team has grown on the physical and mental sides of the game. The expectation for our team is that each time we step on the field, we play hard, smart, and together. While we will be one of the youngest teams in each tournament we play, we know that this team will be ready to show up and compete at a high level.

Nebraska Thunder Fox

Coaching Staff: William Fox (returning to the head coach position after 3 years as an assistant) & Brent Wonder (10 years of head coaching experience in both baseball and softball)

Team Social Media: NeThunder Fastpitch (Facebook), @nebraskathunder18u2024 (IG), @Nethunderf (Twitter) & 18U Thunder Gold (Fox) (SportsRecruits)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Our 4 graduating seniors committed and continued their athletic careers at the collegiate level (Barton College, Chadron State, Northwestern College and Highland CC), Fall resulted in 2 additional commitments (Concordia & Central CC)

Key Players: Ayla Mathney – committed to Calumet College of St. Joseph, a leader in the circle, Joslyn Sargent – junior at Ashland High School, new to our roster, she looks to make a statement at SS and in our lineup, Kaylee Tanuis – senior from Papillion-LaVista Class A State Champions, she is a vital and diverse player on our roster, Macey West – multi-sport athlete expanding her abilities and strengths as a UTL

Expectations for the 2024 Spring Season: With 3 returning players, we are looking for a season of growth and development. Develop a new team culture, drive athletes to become competitors, teammates, and family, achieve player goals on and off field, and continue the tradition of collegiate commitments

Nebraska Thunder Gold Johnson

Coaching Staff: Head Coach Bruce Johnson & Assistant Coaches Alana Crollard & Antonio Torrez
Team Social Media:
@nethunder22 (X) & @nebraskathundergoldjohnson (IG)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: Top Gun NE Memorial Day Classic Champions in Omaha, USSSA Big Opener Runner-ups in Minnesota, USSSA Angels for Autism for Runner-up (HS Division) in Omaha, USSSA Easter Egg Strikeout Champions (HS Division) in Omaha, USSSA Season Opener GG 3rd place overall finish in Overland Park, USSSA Stand UP to Cancer 3rd place overall in Kansas City

Key Players: Ada Jantzen, Kendall Johnson, Kinnley Wehrle, Peyton Johnson, Ava Crollard

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: We expect to compete for championships at all of our tournaments and start to make a name for ourselves nationally

Nebraska Venom 18u National

Coaching Staff: John Parsons, Samantha Hislop & Suzy Shanks
Team Social Media:
@18uVenom (X) & Nebraska Venom National 18u (Facebook)

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: We were 74-20 last year and 10-1 through the fall

Key Players: Ava Kuntz (1B), Kylie Baumgard (C), Chloe Jewitt (P), Kynzee McFadden (SS), Lillian Harris (CF)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Last season, we were able to show top 2 in 13 tournaments. We are looking to duplicate those results in ’24! We were also fortunate enough to get this season’s seniors all signed and committed to continue playing. We look to get the current juniors on the team offers to continue playing the game they love at the highest level, while furthering their education.

Nebraska WAVE Shepherd

Coaching Staff: Head Coach Luke Shepherd & Assistant Coaches Cory Claussen & Peyton Glatter
Team Social Media:
@NEWaveFastpitch (X) & thewaveathletics.com

2023 Summer & Fall Successes: USSSA State Runner Up Class A 18u, Went 3-0-1 in KCKCC Tournament

Key Players: Hannah Allen (Midland University commit), Alexis Shepherd (Midland University commit), Alexis Adams (Doane College commit), Kloey Johnson (Southeast CC commit), Jill Johnson (1B/OF, Uncommitted), Brooklyn Stutzman (P/1B, Uncommitted), Jerzey Wiechman (P, Uncommitted)

Expectations for 2024 Spring Season: Will be traveling throughout the Mid-West playing in several Top Gun Showcases/Invites

Leaving a Legacy: Earl Turnure and KC Softball

By: Madison Feldhahn

Forty-one years ago, after making his way to Kansas City, Earl Turnure began teaching his daughter Stacey how to play softball. It started as a fun thing between father and daughter, but Earl quickly realized Stacey and her friends were good at softball. So, he created a team for them. Today, it is one of the most prominent clubs in the Kansas City metro area.

“He said, ‘Well, let’s see how good they can be,’. He took us and created a little competitive team,” said Stacey Moore. “There weren’t many of those around, so we had to play teams that were much older than we were.”

This competitive team of Stacey and her friends became the Originals, the first competitive fastpitch team on the Missouri side of Kansas City. At just 12, the Originals team had to play older girls and travel to Kansas to play in a competitive league.

Earl quickly realized his new team needed a pitcher and began teaching Stacey. The popular pitching style at the time was the slingshot. But Earl, who played fastpitch softball, only knew the windmill pitch. So that’s what he taught Stacey.

“People on, at least, the Missouri side had never seen that [pitching style] before, and so they thought it was illegal,” Moore recalled. “They were yelling at us because we were cheating, and we were awful people because we had this cheating mechanism that we were using in the game.”

Quickly, Earl realized there was one way he could improve the game – teaching people how to pitch.

Every Saturday, Earl set up shop at Fort Osage High School. From 8 am to 6 pm, he gave lessons. Anyone who wanted to learn how to pitch just had to show up. Over the years, there were some girls who excelled at pitching, and also some who learned pitching wasn’t quite for them. The player’s skill level didn’t matter to Earl, as long as they put in their best effort.

Soon, the pitching lessons weren’t enough. About twenty years ago, several people approached Earl wanting to become a part of the Originals organization. Without much fuss, he let them.

“It really was not a big deal to him. We had two teams, and then two teams before four, and four teams became one at every age division,” Moore said. “People were like, ‘Well, I want to be a part of this. We want to be a part of them.’ So, it continued to grow.”

As the Originals expanded, Earl kept his sights focused. He wanted every girl who came through the Originals organization to learn and to be given the coach’s best.

“As long as the girls are learning, as long as the girls are having fun, and as long as you are being good sports about it, and you’re teaching good sportsmanship, that’s what I want,” Moore said of her father. “He said, ‘I don’t care if they go on to play in college. I just want them to get the best from us that we have to offer them.’”

In all his years, Earl never took a cent for the coaching he did. This is something that has carried on to this day. Every coach in the Originals organization has always been – and will always be – a volunteer. Earl did it for the love of the game, and that passion has been passed on through the Originals.

“He liked to see girls be challenged. He thrived on them doing better than they ever thought they could,” said Moore.

Earl was a big believer that there is a place for everyone who loves the game. Whether it was Division 1 or NAIA, there was a right fit for his players. He gave the girls everything he could offer to help them find their perfect fit and didn’t ask for anything in return.

Above all, Earl wanted his players to enjoy themselves.

“His motto was as long as you’re having fun, the game will take care of itself,” Moore said. “In his mind, girls did not perform well when there was a tremendous amount of pressure on them. He just wanted it to be fun and to have a good time and that’s what it was. It was very fun and carefree and, at the same time, very competitive.”

When asked about her father’s proudest accomplishments, Stacey cited the growth of fastpitch softball in Kansas City. The Originals are now one of many clubs – something she says is proof to her father that he did something right. The publicity around Kansas City softball is something he would also take immense pride in.

“But at the same time, this was never about him,” Moore said. “This was always about the girls. So long as the girls are the ones who continue to reap those benefits, I think he would be more than proud to be a part of anything that puts the girls first.”

Stacey fondly reflected on the love her father had for the game and for his athletes. He would remind his girls it was just a game at the end of a tough day. And he was always there excited to celebrate the end of a good one.

“I cannot forget the smile on his face when he saw his girls excelling and just doing well or mastering a pitch that they struggled with. He would just giggle, and that smile is forever imprinted on my heart. It is his legacy. His smile. His little spot at Adair Park where everybody would come and talk to him. That’s his legacy,” Moore said. “Just being there, supporting anybody who wanted to improve their game. That’s his legacy.”