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.


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. 

Carlie Muhlbach Commits to Nebraska

Carlie Muhlbach Commits to Nebraska

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recruiting 2025 – The Legend of Clubb Grows

Recruiting 2025 – The Legend of Clubb Grows

By Jeff Strange

Way out west of St. Louis, MO – about 50 miles or so – lies a small, semi-rural community of about 4,800 people. Wright City, MO once claimed fame from the large Big Boy Restaurant sign off of Highway 70 and the Elvis is Alive Museum, which delved into the proposition that the King of Rock was still living.

These days, folks around these parts know well about a new hot-topic. Wright City High School Junior softball player Lydia Clubb has gained interest for her academic achievements, genuinely good-natured personality and her extraordinary athletic feats.

But who exactly is this 2025 Infielder/Outfielder starring for Wright City High School and the Missouri Bombers 18u softball team?

“She’s just a dynamic athlete,” said Brian Veselske, head coach of the Missouri Bombers 18u squad. “She’s very humble, she doesn’t boast about herself. But when she steps between the white lines, you just know that you’re going to get 110% from that kid every game.”

That blue-collar work ethic – combined with her elite athleticism – has helped propel this young athlete into local folklore that the residents of her hometown and her club coach speak in awe of.



Some True or False quizzing about Lydia Clubb:

  • Lydia Clubb once scored from second base on a passed ball?
    • Her elite speed and high-energy motor on the base paths allowed her to cross home plate in a recent High School game while on second base and a pitch getting away from the catcher.
  • A natural right-handed hitter, Lydia Clubb once turned to the left side of the plate and homered.
    • Lydia’s dad Jason taught her how to switch-hit when she was younger and she will still occasionally move to the left side of the batter’s box. She smoked a gap shot home run last fall.
  • Lydia Clubb holds records in track for her school in the 4×400 relay, the 4×200 relay, the 100-meter dash.
    • Lydia has been running track since 8th grade and has gained a reputation as one of the top runners in the state.
  • Lydia Clubb is an accomplished trapshooter.
    • Lydia has shot since around the age of 11, participating in her school’s trapshooting club.
  • Lycia Clubb is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap over the old Big Boy sign along Highway 70 in her hometown.
    • Ok, Ok…they can’t all be true. But you get the point…this young athlete is making a name for herself. And just when you think that she’s trumped about every accomplishment that can be listed, she manages to amaze everyone in her presence with her talents.

So what drives this young athlete?

 “Ever since I was little, I’ve had a love for softball,” said Clubb. “Anytime I was at practice, I would always try to put forth 110% effort all of the time. Then after practice, I would work by myself at home. I would hit off a tee nonstop, I would just throw a ball up in the air to try to catch it or I would throw a bouncy ball off of a piece of wood. Just anything that I could think of to try to get better.”  

As she has grown as a young athlete, Clubb has learned to pick up on the finer points of the game to help set herself apart.

“She’s got outstanding softball IQ,” said Missouri Bombers 18u coach Brian Veselske. “Her approach at the plate is that she is looking for 60 feet, and always looking for the extra bag. She reads the defense well; she is an exceptional bunter but also has gap-to-gap power. As a leadoff hitter this past summer, she led our team with in home runs. If you were to watch this kid, she gets your attention. You never know what is going to happen because of her athleticism. She reads a defense and will drop a bunt. If it bounces once or twice, forget about it. Her speed is going to put her on the bag.”

With a growing reputation as an athlete that can play all over the field – she is well known for her range and arm at shortstop, but has also seen time in the outfield – and an explosive athlete at the plate and on the bases, Clubb has her sights set on the next levels beyond her high school years.

 “I would love to play college softball,” said Clubb. “My academic goals are to hopefully find a school with an engineering program that I could also have an opportunity to play at.”

Those who know her best believe in her as an athlete, a student and a person.

“She’s a country girl,” said Coach Veselske. “She works hard. When she’s not practicing or playing softball, she works with her dad on construction projects. She’s just gifted with a lot of quality attributes. She’s got exceptional speed, she’s versatile in the field, she’s always shown a great dedication to the sport and she does very well in school. She can play at the next level, there’s no doubt in my mind about it.”

Heartland College Showcase powered by Top Gun Events

Heartland College Showcase powered by Top Gun Events

By: TGE Staff

Heartland College Showcase is getting a makeover!

We are excited to announce the collaboration between USA Softball of Kansas City and Top Gun Events to bring the experience of hosting a next level elite showcase with the history and governance of USA Softball of KC bringing teams an impactful meaningful experience.  This event will have two divisions.  An open division and a division a team can enter by application or by invitation. The Open division will be running June 7th- 9th with an opportunity for those Junior and Seniors who are uncommitted to play in Spotlight Games, Monday the 10th.  The application-based division will run Saturday, June 8th- Monday, June 10th.     

With the collaboration with our two great organizations, we hope to truly give the teams an exceptional experience here in Kansas City. 

Student-Athletes Find Ways to Cope, Manage Mental Health

Student-Athletes Find Ways to Cope, Manage Mental Health

By TGE Staff

Things To Remember . . . 


  1. You don’t have to be perfect.
  2. Having a bad day is ok.
  3. Small steps are also progress.
  4. Asking for help is strength.
  5. People love and appreciate you.


*     *     *


In what has recently been referred to as the “quiet crisis” in college sports, student-athletes are finding different ways to manage exhaustion, anxiety, depression and other conditions leading to their overall mental health.


Being a college student-athlete is the pinnacle of most players’ careers, but the journey to reach that goal can certainly take its toll, not just physically, but mentally as well.


Along the trek to make it to the highest level, student-athletes face pressures and challenges that come with extra training, preparation and competition, and learning to deal with those has become imperative.


Athletes, and especially amateurs still in the college ranks, don’t want to appear weak or like they can’t handle the pressures. But mental health is a condition that has demanded a call to action, just like that of a physical injury, and more and more athletes are speaking out about the pressures they face and skills that they use to find a medium among the madness.


I met Molly Heidrick in 2019.  At the time, she was a 15 year old pitcher and she and my daughter were on the verge of becoming teammates with a new team for both of them.  Molly and her father and my daughter and I made plans to meet for lunch so that the girls could meet.  On the outside, Molly was just like any other 15 year old girl; giggy, bubbly and fun.  But what I didn’t know then and I learned over the years of eventually becoming one of her coaches is that, on the inside, Molly dealt with performance anxiety.  


Performance anxiety is real and it is said to be caused by negative thinking, fear of failing, inability to deal with adversity or uncertainty, problems with focusing and feeling the need to be overwhelmingly perfect.  It is a manageable condition, and now a sophomore pitcher at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MIssouri, Molly has found her own ways.


-Telling someone about it

“When I got to school here at Lindenwood, I actively sought out my coaches and teammates and spoke to them about my anxiety. I told them about what could lessen or worsen my symptoms and how they can help me if I were to be feeling very anxious one day. I am also very upfront about it when it is happening. Some days I just show up to weights or practice experiencing a lot of anxiety, so I simply tell my coaches and teammates that I’m feeling very anxious that day so that they can offer me some extra support if I need it, which they are wonderful about!”



“If you are someone who has seen me play or be in a game environment, I like to keep the energy very high. I am always singing, dancing or celebrating every small thing while I am on the mound. I’ve found that if I throw myself into whatever is happening at that moment, my anxiety will fade into the background. Obviously, there will always be moments where anxiety will be harder to look away from, but putting my entire focus onto something else has always helped me.”


-Being “in the arena”

“Our mantra here at Lindenwood softball is being “in the arena”, which basically means going all out every single play, even though you know that you could fail. A lot of my personal performance anxiety comes from fear of failure and judgement. But adopting this mantra and knowing that my teammates have done the same really calms me down on the mound. Judgement is something that has been harder for me to overcome, but over my first year of college, I found out that the people who would judge me based on my performance on the field and not by who I am and how hard I work are not people that I would want in my circle. At the end of my day, I know who my supporters are, and those are the people that matter, not the critics.”


-Acknowledging my anxiousness

“It took me a long time to realize that there is a difference between performance anxiety and being nervous. But it also took me a long time to realize that it is ok to be either. The best athletes in the world get nervous. There are Olympic gold medalists who struggle with performance anxiety, and that’s ok! But what sets them apart is that they recognize how they are feeling and harness it towards their goals.”


*     *     *


More specifically, Molly was open to the recognition of the anxiety and nerves that came with her recruiting process just a short time ago.  It was a choice that would ultimately change the trajectory of her life.  Like others, she received mail and she got phone calls and emails.  She was receptive to advice that she got from peers and coaches.  But while everyone’s journey is their own and it doesn’t come with instructions, Molly handled the process and the anxiety that came with it the best she could.


First, she made a list of things that she wanted and didn’t care to have in a school.


Next, she asked herself, “Would I attend this school even if I didn’t play softball here?” and “Is this somewhere I would be happy if softball were taken away from me?”


Her next step was talking through the process with her family and coaches while also coming to realize that the decision she would make would be hers.  Molly admits that input from others was considered and respected, but when it all culminated, it would be her who was moving and beginning a new life in a new town.


And lastly, Molly trusted her gut.  


She said,  “Anxiety is the body’s natural process to signal to you that something is not quite right. When you’re on a visit, you should feel comfortable at the school or with the coaches and players. If they are just increasing your anxiety, listen to it and take that into account. But remember, there is a difference between being nervous and being anxious.”


“Softball is something that has never come to me naturally,” Molly added. “I have always seemed to struggle with it more than the girls I played with. I only started being successful in softball once I stopped fighting my anxiety and started working with it. Part of why I am so animated on the field is because I allow myself to fully feel my emotions; the excitement, the disappointment, the joy. The more you fight negative emotions, the more they will fight back. Once I started to let myself feel and accept my anxiety, the quicker it faded. But for better or worse, it is a large part of who I am.”


They are sons.  They are daughters.  They are students.  And they are athletes.  But it is important to treat athletes as more than just their sport.  It can be easy to forget that they have a whole life outside of the sport they play.  


They have a whole life; just like you and me.



PICTURE CUTLINE: PERFORMANCE ANXIETY has always been a condition that Molly Heidrick, 19, has managed.  Molly never let it deter her from her goals, however, and she is now a sophomore pitcher in the Ohio Valley Conference for Lindenwood University.


Recruiting 2025 – Robbins Builds on Foundation of Family and Friends

Recruiting 2025 – Robbins Builds on Foundation of Family and Friends

By Jeff Strange

For Farmington, MO class of 2025 LHP/1B/OF Elly Robbins, softball runs in the family. Having grown up and watching her older sister Abby play with Top Gun Fastpitch (and now a sophomore playing at Southeast Missouri State University), Elly developed a curious interest in the game at a young age.

My sister had a lot to do with my motivation behind starting to play softball,” said Robbins. “I would watch her practice and watch her games. That got me started and on my feet from there.”

The game had an immediate impact on Elly, as she took to working with her sister along with a group of friends from the Farmington, MO area.

“My sister Abby and I would work together to make each other better, ever since I started playing,” said Robbins. “There’s also a group of girls from my hometown that I’ve played together with for a long time. We play high school ball together now and we’ve always hung out together, whether it was on the softball field or just socially.”

It was at around the age of 10 years old that the idea of pitching came to the forefront of Elly’s pursuit.

“I can clearly remember one night sitting at the dining room table,” said Elly. “My dad mentioned after talking about my older sister Abby’s pitching that it could be cool to have two pitchers in the family; one that is right-handed (Abby) and one that is left-handed (Elly).”

Shortly after that conversation, Elly added pitching to her game, along with a strong bat and a good glove. She starred as a high-level athlete at a young age, achieving success in the pitcher’s circle, in the batter’s box and in the field.

Elly now finds herself as a well-regarded 2025 recruit, playing with the Top Gun National 17u team, sought after for her left arm in the circle and bat from the left side.

“Elly’s a left-handed pitcher that sits low-mid 60’s and spins it very well,” said Randi Davis-Shanks, Robbins pitching instructor and coach for the Top Gun ’08 National team. “She’s just a very smart, level-headed kid. Her curve, rise and change are great strengths. When she works ahead and manages counts, she is dangerous.”

Davis-Shanks also believes that Robbins could be a legitimate two-player at the next level as well.

“She hits very well,” said Davis-Shanks, emphasizing the word “hits” in her statement. “I absolutely think that Elly can play on both sides. She is a disciplined enough kid that she’ll continue to work on both. She works her tail off, she’s super respectful and overall just a great kid.”

That work ethic has included weekly visits with a personal trainer, weekly pitching lessons and countless hours of tee work and front toss on her own. She also has participated in the Inner-Circle Pitching program that her travel organization Top Gun Fastpitch ran last winter, which was a 16-week structured combination of a throwing and workout blueprint that according to Robbins helped her gain some speed on her ball.

Robbins overall commitment to developing herself has led to interest from multiple college programs eager to bring her into their system. With a strong academic background and a desire to play on both sides of the ball, Robbins is weighing her options carefully.

“I’m not rushing anything by any means,” said Robbins. “But I hope that I can find somewhere to call home sometime over the next several months. Ultimately, I’m looking for a school that can help me meet my academic goals along with my softball goals.”

With a positive perspective on the present state of the game and a mature respect for what opportunities the game can offer, Elly Robbins offers an inspiring outlook to the next generation of athletes with similar goals.

“The softball community is doing well,” said Robbins. “The game is getting plenty of recognition. I would say find something that you enjoy and work hard. It’s not easy to be a student-athlete, but if it’s something that you enjoy and love, it’s something that you can run with and it can help you develop a good work ethic and lead to great friendships.”

Meet the TGE News Desk Writers!

Top Gun Events is excited to bring more awareness and provide recognition to the game we all know and love! In order to do so, we will be providing coverage on the regions top players, teams, coaches, as well as hot topics in our game. To assist in these efforts, we have added some new members to our team!


Rob Else

My name is Rob Else and I’m a cybersecurity consultant and softball dad from Omaha, Nebraska.  I first got involved with softball when my oldest daughter started playing on a club team in 2013.  Ever since then I’ve been hooked.

 Prior to my daughters playing softball, I coached 10 years of select baseball for the Omaha Gladiators.  I have also coached various softball teams throughout my daughter’s careers.  Currently my youngest daughter plays on a 13U club team.

 For the past couple of years, I’ve been covering high school softball in Nebraska with the goal of bringing recognition to players and teams.

Jeff Strange

Hailing from St. Louis, I’m a proud Midwesterner. I’ve been blessed to have been married to my wife for 19+ years and we have two amazing daughters – Aroa (16) and Annaliese (13). I’m a loyal St. Louis sports fan, diligently rooting for the STL Cardinals and STL Blues since my youth. However, my biggest passion now is being on the softball field, whether coaching my daughter’s Top Gun 2010 STL team or catching a game from the sidelines. I love the speed and purity of the game, and the passion and energy that these athletes bring is exciting to watch!

In addition to anything sports related, I enjoy music (a good live concert is soothing to the mind, body and soul), movies, cooking, traveling and reading. I’m a huge dog lover, with my German Shepherd Ruthie being a very loyal companion. 

During the day, I am a District Sales Manager for Mission Foods (in other words, a tortilla peddler) managing a network of distributors who deliver our product line of tortillas, chips and other items to your local grocery stores. I’ve been with the company for almost seven years, orchestrating and overseeing the growth of our position within the category. 

I’ve written sports articles in the past for various publications, and my love of talking softball has led me here. My hope and goals are to help provide insight into the softball world, highlighting some of the athletes, teams, coaches and feel-good stories that can help promote this game. Fastpitch viewership is consistently rising and I look forward to assisting in elevating the game!

Adam Howe

My name is Adam Howe and I have been a journalist for the better part of 25 years now.

I began my journalism career in sales. I have also been a Sports Editor, and I am now the Editor-In-Chief for two rural newspapers in midwest Missouri. I am also the host of a weekly high school football coach’s show broadcasted on the internet and do color commentary for our local high school football webcast. 

I began my journey in softball with my oldest daughter (now 19) over 12 years ago. She quickly moved through the ranks, played at the highest competitive level and is now a sophomore playing at the University of Evansville (IN). I also have a 15 year old daughter who is now also playing at the highest level and is embarking on her own recruiting trail to play collegiately soon. My son, who is 13, is a football player who hopes to also take his sport to the next level in the coming years. All three were/are 3-sport athletes.

I have been married to my wife for 20 years. In our “spare” time (when we are not chasing kids to a field or court), we enjoy the lake with friends. 

My hobbies include most all sports, fishing, playing golf, cards and reading other sports articles online.