What To Watch For At The Top Gun Invitational
What To Watch For At Top Gun Invitational 14U
No. 18 Diamond Sports Hotshots Gold -- DumezichWhen: See Schedule
Why: The Hotshots did show a lot of promise as a first-year 14U team in 2016, finishing in the top 15 at the Colorado Sparkler Power Pool and capturing the title at the TCS Bomber Shootout. The squad went 55-15 last spring and summer and closed the year with a fury, going 30-4. The returning talent is formidable, led by P Hailey Hudson (2020, a commit to the University of Texas); C Chloe Gomez (2020), who ranked in the top 10 nationally in RBIs at the high school level and OF Brionna Warren (2020, Texas A&M), who Dumezich says "will be a top five player in the nation by her senior year." Along with the strong returning core, new blood who will make the team dangerous includes 1B Ella Casas (2021), a daunting power hitter who recently clubbed two homers in one game; SS Zoie Garcia (2021), who can hit for power or lay down a bunt, and P Sydney Macias (2020) a righty with good spin and placement who can also swing the bat.
No. 25 Glory Adkins/BerkhiserWhen: See Schedule
Why: Formerly the Georgia Select 02 team, which was on the FAB 50 12U list in recent years, the Glory is a fast-rising team out of Georgia that features solid pitching, a nice blend of speed and power and a shut-down defense. The team had a Top 20 finish at ASA Nationals and has impressed in the fall and spring with appearances at the Florida Elite Classic Showcase where it went 6-0-1 against 14U and 16U teams and 6-2 at the USA Elite Select 16U Qualifier. More recently the Glory went 3-1 at the USA Elite Select Gold Cup playing 16U and in one game scored 15 runs in one inning against an older team. Many Power 5 programs are starting to follow the core of talented recruits which is led by P/OF Makenzie Chappell, who was ranked at #70 in the 2020 Hot 100. The team also has five 2021's who are strong candidates to make that class's Hot 100 in SS/2B Faith Barth; SS/2B Skylar Berkhiser; IF/OF Lauren Flanders; P/1B Riley Reese and 1B/3B Lily Meuninck.
No. 33 Texas Glory NaudinWhen: See Schedule
Why: It's a strong year in the Lone Star State at the 14U division, and the perennially tough Texas Glory team coached by Ed Naudin will have its hands full as the talent in Texas keeps improving statewide. The Glory finished third at USSSA Select Elite and fifth at Boulder IDT but has lost seven key 2019 and 2020 players, including C Hayden Brown (2020, LSU) and P Savannah Desrochers (2020, Kansas) who moved up to play on the 16U Naudin team. The 14U team's coaching staff has been more focused on showcasing players the last few months, but when Naudin puts his active roster of 17 together, he'll have nine players with Division I offers and five who are already committed. Once the lineup is finalized, he'll have a talented, confident, and battle-tested team ready to compete, including key 2020 returners such as MIF Riley Love (Texas Tech), IF Sage Harlow (Tulsa), IF Camryn Compton (Texas Arlington), and P Lauren Lucas (uncommitted). The Glory picked up seven talented newcomers including C Haley Schmaltz (2020, Texas Arlington) and some outstanding 2021s such as P Jaycie Hall, C Audrey Schneidmiller, and IF Kelby Robbins.
No. 44 Iowa Premier BlackWhen: See Schedule
Why: Greg Dickel's organization has become one of the best in the Midwest -- the 18U team won PGF Nationals Platinum last summer -- and the talent is lining up nicely now at all age divisions. The Premier Black team, coached by Marty Maynes, is a combination of players from the team that was ranked in FloSoftball's 12U FAB 50 last year and the 14U group that finished 17th at PGF Platinum. So far this spring, the team has gone 12-0, winning the USSSA 18U MSP NIT tournament in Kansas City on March 18 and the QB Icebreaker 16U tournament in Moline, IL, a week later. The team has received an invite to PGF Nationals again as well as the WFC -- both at 14U -- and is led by 2020 P Jena Lawrence, considered one of the top uncommitted players in Iowa. She throws 65 mph with a good change, drop, and rise ball and is hearing from schools such as Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern. Another 2020 to watch is 3B/P Denali Loecker, who is a top power hitter. The Premier features of the top young slappers in the Midwest in Elia McVery, a 2021 MIF who has also played for the 18U team this spring at times. She works with former college and NPF star Emily Allard.
No. 46 Oklahoma ForceWhen: See Schedule
Why: The Oklahoma Force went 75-21-4 last summer, 25-6-1 in the fall, and so far this year is 8-0-1. As a first-year 14U team in 2016, Chris Wells' group finished fifth at USSSA Nationals in Dallas and was the champion of the Triple Crown OKC. The Force has a nice combo of experienced 2020 players with talented 2021s. Key returners include P/IF Caitlyn Wells (2020), who has been the heart and soul of the team for several years and led her Oklahoma high school team to the 5A state semis as a freshman. P/OF Emmy Guthrie (2021) is another tough pitcher who is starting to get major DI schools showing attention of late. A new player to watch is 2020 P/1B Ashlyn Peterson, a lefty who will add pitching depth as well as a power bat in the lineup.
No. 49 Texas Blaze BonolaWhen: See Schedule
Why: The Blaze team finished 17th at PGF Nationals and eighth at the Colorado Sparkler (Power Pool) but lost some key players who moved up to the 16U team. Still, Russell Hartman's squad returns some significant offensive talent, including MIF Arriana Villa (Texas Tech), a triple threat at the plate who is ranked No. 59 in the 2020 Hot 100. The battery combo is strong with Erykah Guerro (2020), a 5-foot-9 fundamentally sound catcher with interest from SEC and Big 12 programs, and righty pitcher Catarina Esteves, who has a tough knee-buckling curve and interest from Big Ten schools. Two new players to watch are 2020 middle infielders Michelle Arias and Kiana Gibson.
What To Watch For At Top Gun Invitational 16U
Gametime Stars 2020When: See Schedule
Why: Scotty Smith's GT Stars are loaded with talent and five Oklahoma State commits. Middles Mikayla Smith (OSU) and Chelsea Spain bring speed, experience, and power to the lineup. 2020 pitcher/power hitters Katelyn Carwile (OSU) and Janelle Marwitz (Lamar) are some of the most dynamic players to watch. Keep an eye on 2019 Baylor commit Emily Hott, who brings the scrappy style of the Bears to lineup using the short game and long ball to jump-start the GT Stars offense.
Texas Glory NaudinWhen: See Schedule
Why: Ed Naudin's Texas Glory team is stacked with Power Five commits including 2020 Hot No. 1 recruit and Oklahoma commit Jayda Coleman. Middle infielder Raylee Pogue is another Oklahoma commit who is smooth on defense. Trinity Cannon (Texas A&M) is a power hitter to watch after being named 2017 Team Offensive Player of the Year. Glory added Iowa State commit Karlie Charles into the pitching rotation. They are a fun team to watch with great energy on offense and defense.
St. Louis Chaos BeattyWhen: See Schedule
Why: Chaos are fresh off a great run at the Tulsa Elite Invite, where they shared the Championship with Nebraska Gold. They hope to keep the momentum going into Top Gun. Leading the pack of talented young players is C Gabi Deters (2019, Kentucky), who will miss this weekend's tournament because she is playing on the USA junior national team. OF Rylea Smith (2019, Kentucky), 1B/C Makayla Hurst (2018, Utah), P Meghan Schorman (2018, Pitt), and P/UT Emma Nichols (2019, Iowa) will have no problem leading this talented group.
What To Watch For At Top Gun Invitational 18U
No. 24 Nebraska GoldWhen: See Schedule
Mike Heard's organization has consistently grown and improved to where it finished 3rd at the Top Gun Invitational and 9th at this summer's PGF 18U Nationals. Few organizations are able to be pipelines to in-state programs like the Gold, which has five current players going to Nebraska-Lincoln and one headed to Nebraska-Omaha (after two graduated in 2016 and are there now). The Cornhusker commits include seniors like P/1B Olivia Ferrell, 1B/OF Payton Huscroft and OF/IF Riley Unzicker along with juniors such as OF/UT Peyton Glatter and P/IF Courtney Wallace. But it's not all Nebraska that recruits from the Gold: Baylor has committed 2017 P Alexis Koltz, a 6-foot-2 intimidator who hits her spots, and Missouri will sign 2018 C Emma Raabe.
No. 37 Iowa PremierWhen: See Schedule
Why: The Iowa Premier won the PGF 18U Platinum title and hasn't missed a beat in the fall, going 27-1 overall and an undefeated 9-0 to win titles at the Triple Crown Super 72 Elite in Chicago and the USA Elite Select Triumph Invitational in Des Moines. The makeup of the team is a combo of the returners from the 18U team and members of the 16U that finished third at PGF Platinum this summer. Key players to watch include 2017 P Sarah Schaefer (Michigan), who some feel is one of the top three hurlers in the Midwest, and 2018 3B/OF Juvia Davis (Indiana), who combines speed and power. Expect Minnesota commit Hallie Ketchum, a 2018 outfielder, to be a playmaker and one to watch at the plate.
No. 41 Oklahoma Athletics MaddenWhen: See Schedule
Why: The Athletics had a strong year, going 64-11 with a second-place finish at ASA Gold, ninth place at Super 48 in Colorado, and a 33rd-place finish at PGF Nationals -- falling to powerhouse So Cal A's in 11 innings. Every starter returns, and the pitching staff is even stronger with the pickup of Chenise Delce, a 2018 Tulsa commit. Key returners 2018 CF Chyenne Factor (Oklahoma State), 2017 SS Sydnee Ramsey (Kansas), and 2017 2B Kennedy Jackson (Oklahoma City) give the Athletics a strong middle part of the lineup.