Top Players Showcase Their Skills at Power 50 Prospects Event

Top Players Showcase Their Skills at Power 50 Prospects Event

By Rob Else

Several top players from the 2025 and 2026 classes showed off their skills for college coaches at the Top Gun Events Power 50 Prospect camp.  The inaugural event, held November 18th at the Griffon Indoor facility in St. Joseph, MO, wasn’t a traditional camp that players are familiar with.  “It wasn’t a traditional camp like people are used to.  It was not an instructional camp at all it was purely a showcase camp,” said Paige Crawford, Director of Athletic Experience for Top Gun Events.

The all-day event started early with opening ceremonies and players being split up into teams, depending on their graduating class.  Following the opening ceremonies, the showcase kicked off with metric testing.  Athletes were run through several tests that college coaches use to evaluate recruits.  The tests included a 40-yard dash, the pro agility shuttle, throwing velocity, exit velocity, and pitching measurables.  All the results were posted in real-time to the Top Gun Events website allowing college coaches to pull up player performances while at the event.  

There were lots of great players, but here are a few that stood out during the metric testing:

  • Keegan Baker (2026) – Oklahoma Athletics – Fastest pitching velocity at 66 mph
  • Addison Ray (2026) – Select Fastpitch – Top exit velocity of 78 mph.
  • Payton Steuart (2026) – Epic Fastpitch – Best catcher pop time, between 1.66 – 1.90
  • Lydia Turner (2026) – Select Fastpitch – Fastest 40-yard dash time at 5.33.

You can view the full leaderboard on the Top Gun event website here: Top Gun Metrics

In addition to metric evaluations, athletes attended classroom training.  Sessions included the BMS Project talking about mental health, Tony Wylie from The Collective Engine provided information about Name Image Likeness (NIL), and Alana Vawter, a current player for South Carolina.  “I loved getting to listen in on the sessions to make me become the best player I can be, all while staying healthy,” said Cali Bentz (2026) from Nebraska Gold.

After a break for lunch, the day continued with live skills workouts and scrimmages in front of the college coaches.  “The day was long but fun! I learned a ton of new things about the NIL deals and the recruiting process,” said Avery Nelson (2026) from the SE IA Allstars. 

The event was limited to the Top 50 players in the Midwest region.  Each player was selected through an extensive process that included being nominated by their club organization.  The nominated players were then reviewed by a selection committee to determine if they met the participation criteria.  If a player was selected by the committee, then an offer to attend was sent.  “My initial reaction was very excited. I didn’t know if I would get in and getting to be one of the 50 athletes selected to go was a very exciting opportunity,” said Bentz.

Overall, the event was a success for everyone that attended.  The hope is to continue this event and make it an annual tradition.  Top Gun Events is already planning a similar event; the Top 100 Junior Prospect event will be held in January.  The event will include over 20 NAIA, JUCO, and Division 2 college coaches on hand to evaluate 2025 athletes.  It will use the same selection process for inviting players.

Mississippi State pledge Troutman agrees to NIL deal

Mississippi State pledge Troutman agrees to NIL deal

By Jeff Strange

Henderson County (KY) senior OF/1B Taylor Troutman has agreed to a Name Image Likeness (NIL) deal with The Collective Engine and Top Gun Events. Troutman, who is committed to play for Mississippi State upon high school graduation currently stars for Top Gun National 18u, coached by Bob Turner.

The NCAA enacted the name, image, and likeness (NIL) policy on July 1, 2021. Student-athletes are now free to enter into any endorsement deals for their name, image, and likeness as they see fit. The Collective Engine (TCE) helps athletes pilot a route forward — with sponsorship, licensing, social media, and personal branding — that helps athletes maximize their overall value. The Collective Engine announced a partnership with Top Gun Events in August 2023 as an avenue to help support student-athletes with their NIL objectives.

Troutman has indicated that she has submitted a list of brands to The Collective Engine that she is hopeful to work with and promote through social media outlets. Some of the brands range from sports apparel, clothing lines, water bottle companies, skin care brands, restaurants and of course, softball equipment and products. 

In the meantime, Troutman stays active and busy with her softball schedule along with playing an active role with children in her community.

“Kids are my passion,” said Troutman. “I’m planning to major in elementary education and special education. I’m currently a peer tutor in my high school and help teach the special needs program. I also teach pre-school for two hours a day – I love working with children!”

Teaching pre-school. High school. National level travel softball. College on the horizon. There’s a lot on the plate for Troutman. She recognizes a great support system through her family, coaches and faith.

“My family has been very supportive every step of the way for me,” said Troutman. “My dad is actually my high school team’s coach – we’ve grown a ton together. My mom travels with me a lot to our tournaments and is always supporting me. Coach Bob (Turner) has been a great mentor for me; I probably wouldn’t even be on this call if it wasn’t for all the support that he’s provided along the way. I also turn to prayer and my faith to help me with the mental side of everything in life – not just softball.”

With a bright outlook on life and a strong presence on the field, in the classroom and her community, Troutman exudes a positive image that fits well with any promotions of brands that she hopes to partner with. She acknowledges that she is happy that she has signed her NIL deal with The Collective Engine and Top Gun Events.

“Getting this NIL deal signed relieves a lot of stress for when I get to college,” said Troutman. “With classes, softball, workouts all on the horizon, it’s very exciting that this is set and I know what to expect.”

Brylee Brewster commits to University of Nebraska – Omaha

TAKING HER TALENTS NORTH, Brylee Brewster has verbally committed to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she will continue her education and pursue her softball dreams. Brewster is a junior at Warsaw High School in rural Missouri.


Brylee Brewster commits to University of Nebraska - Omaha

By: Adam Howe

Like about every other little girl, when she was younger, Brylee Brewster played sports and joined teams so that she could have fun and be with her friends.  

After dabbling in tee ball and local youth leagues, she started playing competitive softball at about the age of 8.  She started off with the Torque Fastpitch organization and, as is usual, her dad was one of her coaches.  Winning kept her going, but it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted more.  When the trophies weren’t enough, as a pre-teen, Brewster joined the Olathe, Kansas based KC Peppers organization.  There, she was put on bigger stages and challenged herself by facing better players.  She continues to play for the BC Peppers and travels the country from coast-to-coast, competing against the best players that the sport has to offer.

“When she was younger, you could see that she was different,” BC Peppers coach Eric Flores said.  “She had a different drive to her than other players her age. She has always pushed herself to compete at the highest level.” 

Now, as a 17 year old junior at Warsaw High School, Brewster has already gained All-Conference, All-District, All-Region and All-State recognition, and with 2 years left in her high school career, she is sure to add more awards along the way while also in the search of a state title for the Ladycats.

“One thing you can count on from Brylee is that she is going to work,” Flores added.  “She continues to push herself to be better.  And as good as she is in on the dirt and in the circle, she is an even better person.  She is a natural leader who leads by example with kindness and humility.”

As this past September 1 drew near, Brewster knew she had multiple interests in her abilities to play at the collegiate level.  She received interest from major programs in Power 5 conferences, as well as multiple mid-major programs and many Division II schools.  However, after making a couple of visits to campuses, she recently made her announcement that she will be attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she will join an up-and-coming Mavericks team. 

After coaching her myself for many of her years and watching her mature into the young lady and the player that she is today, it was my honor to sit down and talk with Brewster about her recent decision.  

AH: When did you start playing sports, and what did you play?

BB: I’ve been playing sports ever since I was little.  I started off with tee ball, and then in middle school, I played softball, basketball and volleyball.

AH: When did you realize that softball would be your focus?

BB: When I was 13, I joined the Peppers organization and realized that softball was something that I wanted to continue to do and it could possible pay for my college.

AH: How did pitching come about?

BB: When I was 10, I played on a local traveling team, Torque, and we needed a pitcher so I tried it out for fun.  At first, it was something that I was just trying to do for the team, but I ended up falling in love with it.

AH: What kind of work has gone into your pitching?  

BB: I have put a lot of work into pitching.  I am constantly training to get better, either in the weight room or on the field.  I go to lessons in Lawrence, Kansas every other week.  My instructor is Tracey Bunge.  She is a previous player and coach at KU.  I’ve been working with her for about a year and a half now and I’ve learned so much.  There’s  just always something I can do to be better.

AH: Have you ever played any other positions?

BB: I used to play first base, along with pitching, but there came a point a few years ago when I decided that I just wanted to focus on pitching.

AH: What is so attractive or undeniable, to you, about being in the circle?  Not just anyone can do it, right?

BB: I love to be in the circle because I am in control of the game.  I get the ball every play, so there’s always something I can do to help the team.  Pitching is an extremely difficult thing to do.  It takes a lot of practice and doesn’t just come naturally.

AH: How was the recruiting process for you?

BB: The process was a little stressful.  I was worried that I wouldn’t find my “home”, but when I stepped onto campus at Omaha, I knew that I had found it.  

AH: Where else did you visit?  Any other offers?

BB: I visited Missouri State University.  It was also a really great experience and I can’t thank their staff enough for taking the time to welcome me into their “home”.

AH: So why the University of Nebraska-Omaha?

BB: When I was on my visit there, I just felt at home.  I could see myself going there and living my everyday life.  There was just something about it, and I knew that it could be my new “home” away from home.

AH: How do you expect the Mavericks to use you?

BB: I’m hoping to be in the circle as an underclassmen and help produce early.  I really just want to have a positive impact as a member of the pitching staff and do what I can whenever my name is called.

AH: Any idea on a major yet?

BB: I want to major in Speech Pathology.  I plan on being a speech therapist at a school and working with young kids.  My grandma impacted me to follow the speech patch.

AH: What were some of the things that drew you to Omaha, the city itself?

BB: Omaha is a really pretty city!  The campus alone is beautiful.  And the city isn’t really big, but it isn’t small either.

AH: What have been some of your most memorable experiences while playing high school softball?  Travel softball?

BB: I love having the opportunity to play high school softball because it’s with my school friends.  We get to bond and grow closer together, on and off of the field.  With the BC Peppers, this last summer, we played the Aces and I was in the circle.  They are a really good organization with a lot of girls committed to playing D1.  It’s been several years since our team had beat them, so it was really exciting when we beat them, 2-1.  I pitched the full 7 innings and it was such a good game. Our defense was lights out!  Travel ball has allowed me to make lifelong friends and travel places that I really never thought I’d go!

AH: Who has been the biggest inspiration in your softball career?

BB: My biggest inspiration has been Kasey Wood.  She was my teammate for 2 years and she’s currently playing softball at the University of Arkansas.  She was an amazing role model and taught me how to be tough in the circle, both mentally and physically.  She was the best mentor and she taught me so much.  I’m very grateful that I got the honor of pitching with her.

AH: How do you want Ladycats fans and those little girls watching to remember you?

BB: I want the younger generation to remember me as someone who was a role model.  I want to positively impact younger girls and help them become the best versions of themselves, both on and off of the field.

AH: What advice might you give to those younger girls who are just starting to play and enjoy softball?

BB: Enjoy the ride!  It’s very mentally and physically challenging, but it’s all worth it.  All of the bad innings and games mean nothing when you find huge success.  There is always work to be put in and you should never be satisfied with where you are.  Strive to be the best you can be and just play the game you love.

AH: Anything else you’d like to add?

BB: I’d just like to thank my parents for helping me get to where I am today.  They have sacrificed a lot for our family just to get me where I need to be every weekend.  I know they wouldn’t trade it for the world and I’m incredibly grateful for that.  My dad has sat on a bucket too many times to count and my mom has traveled the country with me.  I think softball has brought our family closer and it’s allowed us to spend quality time together and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything different with anyone else.


Florida State Commit Harlie Chism lands NIL Deal

Florida State Commit Harlie Chism lands NIL Deal

By: Rob Else

Harlie Chism from Weatherford High School (OK) has signed a Name Image Likeness (NIL) deal with The Collective Engine (TCE).  Chism, a 2025 Florida State commit, plays for the Oklahoma Athletics National 2024 team coached by Brian Madden and Terry Clemmer.

“It’s a great way to market yourself and get your name out there for when softball does end” said Chism.

TCE offers a full suite of marketing and branding services focused on the athlete’s success off the field.  It is run by Tony Wyllie who has more than 27-years of experience in sports management including serving as the Senior Vice President of Communications for the Washington Redskins football organization.  In August of 2023, Top Gun Events and The Collective Engine announced a partnership in supporting student-athletes in achieving their NIL goals.

Chism’s NIL deal came about through her club coaches.  “Brian Madden reached out to my dad and I and said it would be a great opportunity,” she said.  It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up for the future Seminole.  Part of what sold Chism on signing with The Collective Engine is the athletes they represent. 

Two-time NCAA D1 championship pitcher, Jordy Bahl signed a deal with The Collective Engine earlier this year.  “It stood out to me that TCE had just signed Jordy Bahl,” said Chrism when asked about why she went with TCE.

Not all states allow high school athletes to sign NIL deals.  Unlike college athletics, there is no national governing body for high school sports.  As of April 2023, 25 states allow some form of NIL monetization at the high school level.  The Oklahoma Secondary Activities Association approved NIL guidelines in October of 2022.  Thus, allowing Chism to sign NIL deals while she is in still in high school.

Chism has taken full advantage and has signed multiple NIL deals.  She has another NIL deal with a local gym where she works out.  She said she wasn’t proactively looking for deals. They have come from her marketing her passions on social media and with other people in the town. 

What is Chism’s advice for other athletes that might be looking for NIL deals?  “Don’t be intimidated by big things coming at you.  Don’t be scared to get right into it.  You have to learn how to be outgoing and communicate,” said Chism. 

Nebraska Crowns Softball State Champions at Connie Claussen Field

Nebraska Crowns Softball State Champions at Connie Claussen Field

By: Rob Else

The Nebraska State Softball tournament started last Wednesday at Smith Softball Complex in Hastings and wrapped up with the championship games on Monday at Connie Claussen Field on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  It was the first year for the new format in which the championship games were moved to Omaha to the beautiful new Classen Field.  Championship games for each class were also televised for the first time.

The change was huge success.

Over 4400 tickets were sold for Monday night’s championship games.   Last year, 6800 tickets were sold for the entire tournament in Hastings.  You could feel the electricity in the air and the atmosphere was amazing.  It was standing room only to watch six teams play at the highest level in the state.

Class C – Ashland-Greenwood Wins First Ever State Championship

In the first game of the night, No 1. Ashland-Greenwood beat No 2. Bishop Neumann 2-0. It was the first state softball title in school history for the Bluejays.  Both pitchers were tough in the circle, combining for 19 strikeouts.  Sophia Dill got the win for Ashland-Greenwood pitch a complete game with eight strikeouts and four walks.  Dill pitched around bases loaded situations in the second and third inning.  The Cavaliers stranded 14 base runners and couldn’t come up with the timely hit they need.  The Bluejays scored on an RBI single by Reese Fisher in the sixth and a solo home run by Ellie Stein in the seventh.

Class B – Northwest goes back-to-back

No. 2 Northwest knocked off No. 1 Blair, 9-8,  to claim their second straight state title.  The Vikings got a two-out single by Kyra Ray in the bottom of the seventh to walk of the Bears. The lead changed five times throughout the game.  Blair would get ahead, but the Vikings always had an answer.  At the plate, Northwest was led by Reyse Zobel (2025).  The junior was 4-4 with a home run, a double, and two RBI.   

Class A – Papillion Takes Home 17th State Title

Papillion-Lavista used a 5-run 5th inning to take the lead and beat No. 2 Millard North 10-3.  The Monarchs trailed 2-1 going into the top of the 5th but scored five runs to lead 6-2.  They would add on another run in the 6th and 3 more runs in the 7th.  Monarch pitcher Amanda Gibilisco (2025) kept the Mustang hitters off balance all night with a good mix of change ups.  At the plate, Presley Ivener (2024) and Avery Wolfe (2025) each had three hits.  The win capped off the 17th Class A state softball championship for the Monarchs. 


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.”