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.


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


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) &

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.


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.


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.

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