By: Jeff Strange
Coming off a highly successful 2023 campaign that featured an overall record of 63-20, the Originals 26/27 put together an impressive list of accomplishments to punctuate their season. Highlights included:
- A 1st place championship showing at the Top Gun Heritage Championship in Bixby, OK
- A 7-0 showing to capture the title at the Top Gun Ranger in KC
- Tied for 5th out of 58 teams at the World Fastpitch Championships, going 7-3 overall
The success of those performances provided many proud moments for this Originals squad. However, assistant coach Sara Hollister believes that it was this groups’ showing at the Top Gun Invitational that provided the key point of their successful season.
“The highlight of our 2023 season took place at the Top Gun Invitational at Blue Valley in KC. We were tied for 1st in the Maverick Division. We went 5-1 that weekend facing insane talent from across the US. We picked up big wins over the MI Firecrackers-Renne 3-2, SO Cal Athletics Marinakis 14u National 11-2 and the TX Athletics Mercado-Bonola 4-2.”
Top Gun Events Media caught up with assistant coach Hollister to get her feedback on several key elements for the Originals 26/27 squad’s 2024 season and beyond:
Can you give some background information on your coaching staff and coaching styles?
“Head Coach Jason Moss has 30 plus years of competitive coaching experience. He favors a strategic and motivational coaching style.
Assistant Coach Tony Austin has 20 plus years of collegiate and competitive coaching experience. He is very strategic in game planning and coaching each player to their strengths.
Assistant Coach Matt Johnson has 23 years of collegiate and competitive coaching experience. He brings a transformational and developmental coaching style.
Myself – Assistant Coach Sara Hollister has 20 plus years of competitive coaching experience. I primarily focus on player IQ and the mental side of the game.”
Does your team face any challenges with schedules? If yes, how do you manage that?
“The challenges we face as a team mostly pertains to our roster coming from about a 4-hour radius for practices. The girls and their families are dedicated in making sure they get to all the workouts they can. There are many zoom meetings to cover other things outside of the physical practice portion of our workouts.”
What are your primary goals and objectives for your team?
“Our primary goals and objectives are to keep the girls hungry and motivated. This allows them to strive to continue competing with themselves and each other to prepare them for play at the next level.”
In your opinion, what traits make your organization unique?
“We are family oriented. Earl Turnure founded the Originals organization in 1983. We are old school in our approach of developing players and Stacey Moore, who is the head of our organization, preaches that the Originals stand on the principle that there are more options for college than the D-1 or bust mentality.”
Can you give some analysis/perspective on your team for 2024?
“We are entering our “down” year as a first year 16 u team with three 2027’s. We are playing an elite schedule, so we will have our hands full every weekend, which is exactly what the girls need to continue to grow. We are traveling more than half of our schedule, which is taxing on our players and their parents. We have added 3 girls to our 2024 roster from the Select Organization who have a season of 16s under their belt; they will provide excellent guidance to our team.
- Kennedi Casey/OF (’26 Kearney High School)
- Defense: Plus first step and angles to the ball. Average arm that has shown improvements in arm strength. CF footwork/corner OF arm.
- Offense: Gap hitter with flashes of power to all fields from the left side. Keeps hands inside the ball well and above average strike zone awareness. Handles the bat well in hitting situations.
- Jesenia Solis/UT (’26 Lees Summit High School)
- Defense: corner defender with quick first step. Quick hand and release. Average to above average arm strength.
- Offense: left handed hitter with good bat control and strike zone awareness. Keeps hands inside ball well and good barrel control.
- Jazmyn Brown/P/OF (’26 Holden High School)
- Defense: Plus speed in the OF that can develop into a strong CF. Above average arm.
- Offense: Slap hitter with plus bat control. Strong bunter with plus speed on the bases.
- Pitcher: Above average velocity with command of four pitches that can be thrown in any count. Developing stamina for later innings. Athletic on the mound.
- Jacie Gentry/OF (’27 Lathrop High School)
- Defense: CF with polished angles to the ball and range. Plus arm with quick release and carry.
- Offense: Power bat with a big swing. Pull side swing that is developing opposite field power. Improving strike zone awareness.
- Kyndall Hay/C/OF (’27 Blue Springs South High School)
- Defense: Developing catcher with strong arm. Needing improvement on glove handling but showing growth.
- Offense: Pull-side power hitter, free swinger. Plus foot speed.
- Brynlee Johnson/C (’26 Park Hill High School)
- Defense: Plus softball IQ and a field general. Above average arm behind the plate with quick feet and hands. Plus framing and feel behind the plate.
- Offense: Gap hitter that has developed the ability to drive the ball out of the park. Plus strike zone awareness with high contact and hands inside the ball from the left side.
- Haylee Wait/3B/P (’26 Fort Osage High School)
- Defense: Quick hands and reaction at 3B with developing quicker release. Average arm velocity.
- Offense: Contact hitter that puts ball in play to opposite field. Handles the bat well on bunts and situational hitting.
- Pitching: Strong 3 pitch mix with plus control. Average velo with plus spin rate.
- Lucia Trevino/P/UT (’26 Blue Springs High School)
- Defense: OF with good range and above average arm.
- Offense: Plus speed from the left side. Gap power and developing increased contact.
- Pitching: 3 plus pitches that command the zone well. Ability to control the inside part of the plate. Above average to plus velo.
- Katie Stephenson/UT/P (’26 Belton High School)
- Defense: Plus arm, great lateral foot speed, can play middle but better suited on corners. Quick release.
- Offense: Combination of power and contact. Puts ball in play, work power and plus strike zone awareness.
- Pitching: Average to above average velo. Command of two pitches with 3rd right behind. Competitor in the circle with plus athleticism.
- Riley Hollister/MI (’27 Blue Springs South High School)
- Defense: Plus softball IQ, ability to play both middle positions. Above average arm, quick hands and release.
- Offense: Gap hitter that has started to develop power. Handles the bat well and keeps hands inside the ball and on plane from the left side.
- Tayah Garringer/UT (’26 El Dorado Springs High School)
- Defense: Corner IF and OF with above average arm and quick first step at both positions. Her ability to be versatile allows her to be in the lineup at all times.
- Offense: Gap power swing that has the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Quick hands that stay inside the ball well and drives the ball to opposite field with power.
What are your short-term goals for your team?
“We preach to the girls that our goal this season is to compete against the best of the best and use those games to keep getting better. Our team goal this season is to qualify for the 2024 Alliance Fastpitch National Championship.”
What are your long-term goals for your team?
“We want to continue developing our girls to prepare them for college. Travel ball is expensive – we want to build them up, get them the exposure they need and help them acquire as much scholarship money as possible…a little thank you to mom and dad!”