While the 2017 season didn’t go down as a perfect success for the 16u So Cal Athletics Mercado/Smith team, it makes perfect sense where they ended up in the final 2017 US Club Rankings.
The Athletics won just about everything in sight this season, continuing their long run of success since hitting the scene before their teenage years. The Mercado/Smith squad took first place at both Colorado Fireworks and the Triple Crown World Series, while taking second place at PGF Nationals.
US Club Rankings uses bracket results, with more weight awarded to events with stronger competition), for the 16u layout.
It was the third age-group title won by this Athletics roster at Colorado Fireworks Super 64.
The rest of the top 10 for the final 16u 2017 US Club Rankings are as follows:
T2. Beverly Bandits (Ohio) – Ketelhut (beat Mercado/Smith at PGF and also won TC/USA Nationals)
T2. Beverly Bandits (Illinois) – Tyrrell (co-champ at Boulder IDT and took third at PGF Nationals)
T4. Beverly Bandits (Ohio) – RD (co-champ at Boulder IDT)
T4. East Cobb Bullets – Biele (second at Colorado Fireworks, seventh at PGF)
6. Vision Gold – Poole (placed third at TC/USA Nationals)
7. Georgia Impact – Stewart (placed fifth at Boulder IDT and USA Softball Gold)
T8. Firecrackers – Brashear (placed fifth at PGF Nationals)
T8. Tennessee Fury Platinum (took third at Colorado Fireworks)
T8. Texas Glory – Adkins Gold (placed second at TC/USA Nationals)
“With the inception of younger age divisions (16 & Under and 14 & Under), US Club Rankings has been able to follow teams through the years,” said director Alyson Morgenstern. “The So Cal Athletics Mercado/Smith team has been exciting as they have been able to dominate at every age division thus far; it will be fun to see how they fare in the rankings in the years to come.”
After closing last year in the runner-up position, the 18u So Cal Athletics-Richardson team decided to move a rung up in 2017.
Flexing its muscle in multiple tournaments with a roster deep in college-bound talent, the Athletics now stand in the No. 1 spot in the 2017 US Club Rankings results, up one place from a year ago. Fortified by winning the TC/USA Nationals event in Austin, TX, Athletics-Richardson also placed fifth at PGF Nationals and claimed ninth at the Boulder IDT event.
US Club Rankings uses a blended methodology of bracket results (with more weight awarded to events with stronger competition), a coaches poll and consideration of the number of players who go on to play collegiately from the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 graduation classes. Event results are further broken down, giving 20 percent weight to 2015 finishes, 30 percent to 2016 and 50 percent to 2017.
“The US Club Rankings initially started with the 18 & Under age division, seeking out the strongest, high-achieving organizations in the nation,” said rankings director Alyson Morgenstern. “The So Cal Athletics have been in existence for over 25 years and run by Bruce Richardson since 1997; being out of the top 10 is a rarity for this program, and with this ranking it is no shock they are back in the No. 1 spot for 2017, embracing the moniker of a perennial top program.”
The So Cal Athletics-Richardson squad claimed the TC/USA title with an 8-1 victory over the Gold Coast Hurricanes-Cooper team, which ended up 15th in the US Club Rankings.
The rest of the top 10 for the final 18u 2017 US Club Rankings are as follows:
2. Beverly Bandits (Illinois) – Conroy (the PGF Nationals champs move up from No. 4 last year)
3. Firecrackers – Rico (won Colorado Fireworks, down from the top spot in 2016)
4. Corona Angels – Tyson (winners of Boulder IDT, second at PGF, up from No. 7 in 2016)
5. East Cobb Bullets – Schnute (third at TC/USA Nationals, fifth at Boulder IDT, up one position)
6. Texas Glory – Shelton (second at Colorado Fireworks, fifth at TC/USA and PGF, up from No. 10)
7. Birmingham (AL) Thunderbolts (fifth at Boulder IDT, down two slots)
8. Texas Bombers Gold – Smith (placed third at Colorado Fireworks, up one position from 2016)
9. Aces Express (TX) – McCorkle (third at TC/USA, fifth at Colorado Fireworks, vaulting up 15 spots)
10. All American Sports Academy (CA) – Merrida (first at Boulder IDT; as 14th overall a year ago)
The larger club fastpitch programs around the country tend to populate the winner’s circle at major events, but there’s a stand-alone team that moved to the top of the final 14u US Club Rankings for 2017.
The Texas Dirt Divas, based in Liberty, TX, a bit northeast of Houston, had all the right moves this past season, claiming the PGF Premier National Championship with a comeback win over OC Batbusters-Campbell. Adding that with a runner-up finish at Triple Crown’s TC/USA Nationals and a third-place run at Sparkler Juniors gave the independent Dirt Divas all they needed for the top spot.
US Club Rankings bases its 14u rankings on bracket results, with more weight awarded to events with stronger competition.
Pitcher Kaitlyn Dutton threw 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the Divas’ win at PGF.
The rest of the top 10 for the final 14u 2017 US Club Rankings are as follows:
2. Tampa Mustangs – TJ (second at Sparkler Juniors)
T3. Georgia Impact – Newland (fifth at PGF Nationals and Sparkler Juniors)
T3. So Cal Choppers – Fausett (co-champions at Boulder IDT)
5. OC Batbusters – Campbell (winners at USSSA Elite Select)
6. Corona Angels – Tyson (co-champions at Boulder IDT)
7. Birmingham Vipers – Standifer (winners at Sparklers Juniors at TC Southeast Nationals)
8. Birmingham Thunderbolts – Barron (second at PGF Nationals)
9. Firecrackers TJ (winners at TC/USA Nationals)
10. Firecrackers – Sewell (third at Sparkler Juniors and TC Southeast Nationals)
“One of the innovative features regarding the US Club Rankings is the ability to find the ‘one off’ teams not part of a larger organization through their on-the-field performance,” said US Clubs Rankings director Alyson Morgenstern. “The Texas Dirt Divas exemplify that quality at the 14U level.”
If you’re looking for good food, great sports culture and even better softball – Oklahoma City is the place to be. The Triple Crown OKC Tournament returns in 2018 (June 1-4) to deliver another memorable experience for athletes, 10u through 18u, and their families.
More than 155 teams from across the U.S. traveled to Oklahoma City in 2017 to enjoy all this tournament has to offer. OKC did not disappoint, providing a fun-filled opening ceremony with merchandise, vendors, pin trading, snacks, music, photo booths and more. In addition, OKC gives teams the opportunity to play at least five games against diverse competition while crafting a schedule that builds in time to watch the best of the best college softball athletes live at the Women’s College World Series.
Opening Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, June 1 and will wrap up prior to the WCWS night games. Tournament play begins the following morning and continues through June 4. All teams are guaranteed to play Monday. The final games begin around 4 p.m., giving just enough time to make an appearance at Game 1 of the WCWS Championship Round at 6 p.m.
For more details, visit http://www.triplecrownokc.com/
Colorado Mesa’s speedy and powerful lineup set the tone from start Saturday at Triple Crown’s Fall Colors College Clash. The team showed consistency, crossing home plate in five out of seven innings while junior pitcher McKenzie Surface kept Baker University off the bases through five innings.
Baker made some adjustments in the late innings, but was held scoreless, making the final score 6-0 for CMU. Colorado Mesa went on Saturday post another shutout victory, 5-0, versus Trinidad State Junior College.
Colorado Mesa is in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and fresh off a very successful 2016-17 season where the Mavericks captured the conference title and competed at the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament. Even early in the season, Surface explained that the game plan for 2018 is the same.
“We’re just trying to get further than we did last year and sticking to that high note we ended on,” she said.
Surface closed out the game with six strikeouts, only giving up one hit.
Despite the final score, Baker University held their own in this tough matchup, keeping composure on defense and making adjustments on offense. Head coach Jamie Stanclift was very proud of her team and is excited about their potential.
“We just really have a lot of confidence that they’re going to help our program continue to move in the right direction and bring a lot of valuable things to our team,” she said.
Baker produced its most successful season under Stanclift with a .500 record last season in the NAIA Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). Prior to this 2017-18 season, Baker signed nine new players, and they’ve already made an instant impact.
Stanclift has big plans for this off-season in order for her team to continue progressing year after year.
“Our biggest improvement areas are building more pitching depth and building an explosive offense with more run production,” she said.
Not in the lineup for the Wildcats this weekend was ace pitcher Olivia Brees, who is a multisport athlete competing in volleyball, too. Brees broke the Baker University strikeout record last year and is certainly a threat to be reckoned with this season.
The nine newcomers join a variety of successful athletes including senior third baseman, Stephanie Cardona. Cardona is an obvious leader for the program and displayed solid defense throughout Saturday’s game.
“My goal for this season is to just leave it all out of the field and do everything I can to help my teammates,” she said.
The event continues through Sunday at Triple Crown’s fields.
The hard work of developing softball players is a 12-month journey, but the wisest college programs do what they can add some unique stops along the way.
Triple Crown proudly offers a high-quality option Sept. 22-24 by hosting the Fall Colors College Clash, which welcomes a mix of 10 junior, community and small-college squads from three states to Fort Collins:
Adams State University (CO)-DII
Baker University (KS)-NAIA
Colby Community College (KS)
Colorado Christian University-DII
Colorado Mesa University-DII
Northeastern Junior College (CO)
North Platte Community College (NE)
Trinidad State Junior College (CO)
Western Nebraska Community College (NE)
York College (NE)-NAIA
Teams get a four-game guarantee, and it’s a chance for programs with players from Northern Colorado to come home and show their skills off to family and friends. Several teams are coming off excellent finishes from the spring, including Colorado Mesa, which went 48-8 last season and reached the final game of the NCAA South Central Regional. Colby had a record of 30-19 a season ago, and Trinidad State was 38-24.
The schedule features games at Fossil Creek Park (5821 S. Lemay Avenue) and the two fields at Triple Crown’s home office, 3930 Automation Way. At the Triple Crown fields, food and drink will be available Saturday and Sunday at the Colorado Women’s Sports Fund Association concession stand.
Triple Crown’s SoCal fastpitch schedule has multiple highlights in the fall, but one of the essential stops on the journey is the Monster Mash tourney, set for Oct. 14-15 in and around San Diego.
FIRST OFF – what a great chance to play some ball! More than 200 teams played in the 2016 edition, and we’ll have strong, competitive divisions waiting from 10u through 18u. We feature a four-game format, three pool games into a single-elimination bracket, and all Gold Division winners get a Bownet prize package. TCS will provide game balls.
Part of the fun is our Monster Mash video contest – submit a creative video of your team dancing to “Monster Mash” with prizes going to the top two selections. Video must be submitted by Oct. 16.
Click below for event details and to secure your registration today:
Looking for a college recruiting/player showcase opportunity? Head straight to the Best of the West event in Palmdale, CA on Oct. 7-8, just a bit north of Los Angeles.
Teams get a four- or five-game format, depending on age division, and individuals can play Showcase Games the night of the 7th that are run by college coaches who have come to recruit.
With more than 30 years invested in the world of club fastpitch and a competitive fire that started it all in the athletic hotbed in Houston, the Impact Gold program has obvious markers of success.
Dozens and dozens of teams, multiple locations in and out of Texas, stellar finishes at national events – there’s no doubting the Impact’s reach. However, program director Jazz Jackson couldn’t help but feel a bit restless when she considered the big picture a couple of years ago. Could the passion and drive at the root of on-field accomplishments be directed at something greater?
“Be the Impact” had been the working motto of the Impact’s top-ranked 18u team (coached by Jazz’s father, KC Jackson), and like a fastball right over the plate, Jazz thought that was a theme her club could hit out of the park. So about two years ago, the “Be the Impact” foundation was formally started with the goal of broadening what players and coaches could do, and could change.
“I feel like in softball, there is so much gimme, gimme, gimme. Even in our organization, as we were becoming bigger, the impact in the community didn’t feel like there was enough, that we weren’t giving back enough, and that’s where it started,” said Jazz, who had a terrific softball career at LSU and coached at the University of Houston before taking the helm with the Impact. “We have all these teams, all this stuff – other organizations had ways they used to give back, and I didn’t like that more women weren’t benefitting from it. I specifically chose a path that helped women.”
Jackson makes it a priority every year to meet twice with coaches and players throughout the program and cement what the expectations are in terms of community service. In the beginning, it was a no-brainer as she saw a wave of cancer diagnoses rumble through the organization.
“We will go with our gut feelings (on who to support). We had five parents in our organization that I personally knew who got breast cancer – it shocked me and it hit home, three on my team, two on my dad’s, who were diagnosed and started treatment in the same year (2015),” she said. “Rather than wear the pink jerseys you normally do for breast cancer awareness – that year, took money and donated it. I thought if we could do it as an organization, that would be pretty awesome.”
The first time “Be the Impact” showed its full muscle was during a fundraiser for the Mission of Yahweh, a homeless shelter for women and children.
“Our players had an opportunity to sponsor a food drive for a local women and children’s homeless shelter. We collected food and diapers from family, neighbors and local businesses, and delivered all donations to the shelter,” said Molly Ellis, foundation board member and the person tapped by Jackson to focus the program’s outreach. “The girls then unloaded and helped the shelter administration weigh and organize the donations. Our Impact Gold players ended up donating 1,100 pounds of food and diapers; we then met the resident children in the courtyard and played softball with them for a couple of hours.
“The food drive will be an annual community service project for Impact Gold. We also made and delivered as a group Easter baskets to two local women and children homeless shelters. This summer we will help clean yards for elderly residents and do light repairs if needed. We also plan on partnering with local businesses and non-profits to help assist and provide volunteers for their events and or missions, in return, they sponsor our foundation with monetary donations to help fund travel for players with current financial needs.”
In the often-frantic environment of high-level club softball, the pursuit of a college career and the fierce competition that exists between (and sometimes within) teams can make it difficult to think of others. The “Be the Impact” foundation is dedicated to creating balance on that unstable turf, and to show each other the value of supporting each other now and in the future.
“We also have an intern program for our past Impact Gold players to come back and work with our current players,” Ellis said. “In the summer of 2017, we will have five past players interning with Impact Gold in marketing, strength and conditioning coaching, assistant coaching and entrepreneurship. These same past players will work with current players on college readiness.”
One of those players is Tori Vidales, a key player on the Texas A&M roster – as a junior, she had 50 career home runs and was hitting .359 entering NCAA Super Regionals play this May. She credits the Impact with not just fostering her growth as a player, but also fortifying her plans for after college.
“I’ve wanted to be in sports broadcasting world since high school. We played a lot of TV games with the Impact; they’d want to do interviews and we would sit down and talk, give them some background about our team,” Vidales said. “When I moved on to college, I worked with 12th Man Productions at A&M, so Jazz knows that’s my passion. She’s given me opportunities, asked me to speak at a coaches meeting to talk about my experience with the Impact and my journey through the program … how it shaped me, what I live by now, and the advice I would give to players.
“I tried to give them a sense of what happens behind the scenes, and not just what’s it’s like on the field. It was a great opportunity, probably 100 coaches; I talked in front of a lot of people who have an influence on the girls’ lives. Jazz also gave me the idea to start a blog, to get some experience and talk about softball.”
Jackson and the “Be the Impact” foundation is always on the hunt for ways to keep players actively getting better as athletes, while preparing them for the day when the uniform is put away.
“Our kids get something from this, seeing how you can get after and work for your own dreams,” Jackson said.
“It’s important for the athletes to know, once you are part of the Impact program, it’s important to buy in,” Vidales added. “The coaches know what they are talking about, they know the game, and they know athletes at this age because they’ve been at it so many years. Trust it and the rest will fall into place. You’ll learn how to respect the game, and you’ll improve your softball IQ. That’s why I support the Impact so hard – they gave me so much; they provided me with these opportunities.”
With a lot of activities percolating on the schedule, and a legion of young women ready to address concerns outside themselves, the foundation is motivated to fulfill Jackson’s vision.
“’Be the Impact’ will continue to raise money to help players in a financial need travel to the tournaments necessary for their success. We never want money to be a reason a young woman cannot continue with her dream,” Ellis said. “We will continue to empower young women, and keep them invested in the foundation. When they are personally invested, we hope they come back to Impact Gold and volunteer their time and talents to other young women that want to follow in their footsteps. Finally, we want to leave the foundation better off than when we found it. That is the definition of success.”