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What To Watch For At 16U PGF Premier Nationals

What To Watch For At 16U PGF Premier Nationals
PGF Premier 16U Nationals will stream LIVE on FloSoftball August 2-4 from Huntington Beach Sports Complex (Fields 1-4) in California. The 16U division features returning champs and newcomers hungry for a PGF title.


Last year's 16U PGF Premier Nationals was kind of a snoozer with the exception of the championship. Bandits Conroy steamrolled teams until championship day where they faced South Dakota Renegades in a thrilling 3-2 battle. The Renegades return and the Bandits return as well, but with a different coach.

Athletics Mercado make this division interesting as the newcomers to 16U. They have been sharpening their skills playing in the 18U division much like Bandits JT and are the early favorites going into the tournament. 

What To Watch For At 16U PGF Premier Nationals

Athletics Mercado
David Mercado's team was crowned the 18U Triple Crown World Series Champions after overcoming a 7-0 deficit. The Athletics were such a dominant force at the 14U level in 2015-16 that the team won seven major tournaments including the PGF Nationals and the Colorado Sparkler/Fireworks Power Pool. The team plays well together with 15 players returning. With nine players ranked in the Hot 100 of their respective classes, this team is loaded with talent. Head man David Mercado also rotates players so the talent keeps coming in waves. P Lexi Sosa (2019, UCLA), ranked No. 20 in her class, was dominant in the circle and pitches to the No. 1 player in the 2019 Hot 100, C Kinzie Hansen (Oklahoma). But Hansen isn't the only No. 1 player on his team: Quincee Lilio was named the No. 1 player in the 2021 class. We also saw C/UT Alyssa Garcia (2019, UCLA) crank several bombs at PGF Nationals last year; she is No. 6 in the Hot 100. OF Jasmine Perezchica (2020, Arizona) is No. 7 in her class and is the prototype speedy leadoff slapper who knows how to place the ball at will. The middle infield is outstanding with a pair of 2020s in Presleigh Pilon (LSU, No. 25 in Hot 100) and SS Destiny Noury (Oklahoma, No. 16 in Hot 100) manning the middle with infielder Seneca Curo (2019, UCLA) who has excellent range. Along with Garcia, power is provided by 3B Paige Smith (2019, Ole Miss, No. 62 in the Hot 100); P/DH Matalasi Faapito (2019, New Mexico State); OF Kayla Edwards (2019, Army); 1B/OF Raeleen Gutierrez (2019, LSU, No. 34 in the Hot 100); and P Ryleigh White (2020, Tennessee). The secret weapon, however, could be P Shannyn Bustamante (2020, LMU), who leads the team in strikeouts.

Beverly Bandits JT
Jen Tyrell is without a doubt one of the best club coaches in the country and she has the team to back it up. It wouldn't surprise people if the Bandits took the 16U PGF Premier title along with the 18U title. They are cut from the same cloth of strong pitching, timely hitting, aggressive baserunning, and solid defense. In the circle, Syd Supple (2019, Northwestern) returns after winning 16U PGF Premier last year with Bill Conroy. Tyrell includes Sloan Gayan (2019, Kentucky) and Morgan Scivally (2019, Illinois) to the pitching rotation. On offense, expect Bailey Dowling (2020, Alabama) -- who is the No. 14 player in the 2020 Hot 100 -- to hit with power to all fields. The infield is strong on defense and at the plate with 2B Gabi Carra (2019, Wisconsin, No. 68 in the Hot 100), 3B Stormy Kotzelnick (2020, Washington, No. 42 in Hot 100), and 1B/3B Maeve Nelson (2018, Northwestern). Bandits JT and Athletics Mercado are not in the same bracket but will we see them both in the Championship game on Saturday?

Beverly Bandits Ketelhut
It's unusual that one organization has two top-10 teams in an age division, but the Beverly Bandits are so deep that's what we find with Bill Conroy's organization. Eddy Ketelhut's team is led by one of the top pitchers in the nation regardless of age, as Montana Fouts (2018, Alabama) is a true ace who can carry a team on her back to a national championship. This summer, the Bandits finished third at Boulder IDT and finished ninth without Fouts at PGF Nationals. The team now has a great No. 2 hurler in Alex McManus (2019, Notre Dame), but the defense is strong and the offense very capable with a pair of Michigan commits in OF Lexi Voss (2019) and SS Morgan Overaitis (2018) along with other standout position players like 2B Avrey Steiner (2018, Illinois), C Gracie Voulgaris (2018, Maryland), OF Jayme Bailey (2018, Virginia Tech), and SS/C Ashley Prange (2018, Ohio State).

EC Bullets Biele
This Georgia-based team has the best pitching staff in the country with four hurlers who would be No. 1's on any other team: Kelley Lynch (2019, Auburn), Logan Caymol (2018, Tennessee), Angelina Biele (2018, Duke), and Chandler Dennis (2019, Michigan). The Bullets also have two strong power-hitting catchers in Jessica Morgan (2018, Georgia) and Gracie Osbron (2018, Tennessee). The best power-hitter on the team may be Felise Collins (2019, Missouri) who had 19 home runs last year and runs a 2.76 home-to-first. Overall, the team has 10 SEC commits, three ACC pledges, and one player going Big Ten. With power and speed up and down the lineup, this team has to be a favorite to go all the way in 2017.

Explosion Greg
Coach Greg Borzilleri looks to have one of the strongest pitching staffs after a 13th-place finish at PGF 16U Nationals. Coming off another great year that saw 16 of the 19 rostered players commit to some of the top schools in the country and a summer run that also included a top-five finish in Boulder, Explosion has come out strong this fall winning the PGF Ultimate Challenge in Salinas, California, and compiling a 6-1 record at the D9 showcase playing up in the 18U division. Despite the departure of some top talent, Borzilleri still has a strong foundation returning with key returners like P Jenna Bloom (2019, Arkansas), OF Larissa Cesena (2018, Long Beach St.), 1B Kira LaScola (2018, Dartmouth), SS Taylor Olsen (2018, Grand Canyon), and 2019 Hot 100 3B Anissa "AJ" Alatorre (uncommitted) joining key pick-ups in P Miranda Stoddard (2019, Kentucky), C Val Pero (2019, Oregon State, the No. 9 player in the Hot 100), and 1B McKenzie "Tank" Barbara (2019, Ole Miss).

Texas Glory Naudin
Ed Naudin's team has finished in the top-10 at PGF Nationals the last two years and is ready to take the next step to play on the final day. After tying for third at Boulder IDT, this team has the ability to compete with the top five teams. Headlining the 15 committed players is the No. 1 player in the 2020 class, SS Jayda Coleman (Oklahoma), who is a tremendous athlete on the bases and can swing away, slap, and drag. Other key players to watch will be C/IF Raylee Pogue (2019, Oklahoma), C Hayden Brown (2020, LSU), and P Chyanne Ellett (2019, Texas-Arlington).

South Dakota Renegades
Last year, many club softball followers were asking, "Who are these guys?" as the Renegades marched to a fifth place finish at Boulder IDT and second at PGF Nationals, just falling short to the Beverly Bandits in the title game 3-2. Coach Mike Mook's team won't be overlooked this year as the core of the team returns, including P/3B Grace Glanzer (2019, South Dakota State) and C/IF Avery Wysong (North Dakota State) -- the only two committed players on the team -- along with P/OF Emma Hardin (2018, South Dakota State) who had a home run in the PGF championship game. Glanzer is also one of the top hitters on the team, batting in the four-hole, and has to be one of the top unheralded all-around players in the nation.

Georgia Impact Stewart
Jon Stewart's team finished second at USA Select Elite's World Fastpitch Championship. Watch quality 2019 hurlers in Emily Buck and Blake Neleman, both of whom were aces on their previous teams. Key returners are a trio of Hot 100 players, all in the top 50: P Sara Mosley (2019, Georgia), OF Kinley Stewart (2019, Georgia Tech), and OF EC Taylor (2019, Florida). Others to watch are outfielders Jasmine Moore (2019, uncommitted) and Mariah Wicker (2019, uncommitted), who along with EC Taylor give the Impact four players who run 2.65 or faster.

Oro Suncats
Todd Judge's organization has become one of the best in the west, if not the country, and the 16U team joins the 18U team as making the FAB 50 Rankings. The organization has also expanded to California to field teams playing in major tournaments like PGF Shootout and PGF Ultimate Challenge. The 16U Suncats finished seventh at last year's PGF Nationals. Top players to go through the Suncats include IF Alynah Torres (2019, Arizona State), who split time between the 16U and 18U teams last year. One to watch this year doing the same is SS/C Blaise Biringer, the No. 37 2020 Hot 100 honoree who will play shortstop on the younger team and catch on the 18U squad.

Texas Bombers Gold
Bill Jones' Sudden Impact team merged with the Texas Bombers Gold 16U team to form a young and dynamic squad that can crush the ball with the best of them. Infielders Marianna Torres, a Texas A&M commit and 2020 Hot 100 selection, and Chloe Cobb, a 2019 commit to Texas Tech, are explosive on offense and playmakers on defense. In 2016, the Bombers were National Champions at ASA 16U Gold, placed fifth at Colorado Super 32 Power Pool, and placed in the top 10 at the USA Softball J.O. Cup. Players to watch include 2020 Hot 100 honoree IF Crystal Davila, OF Anna Jones (2019, LSU), IF Campbell Selman (2019, Baylor), IF/OF Kayman Courtney (2019, Kansas), and OF Lourdes Bacon (2020, uncommitted).

Firecrackers Brashear
Sean Brashear's team based in Chino, California, took first at the PGF 16U Platinum Nationals and fifth at Colorado Fireworks/Sparkler 16U, and is the flagship 16U team in the Firecrackers organization which has over 300 teams nationwide. This year's edition combines pitching, speed, and defense, and each player has a high softball IQ. Loaded with talent, 11 players are committed: P Ashley Daughtery (2019, Texas A&M), C Carli Klaus (2020, Notre Dame), SS Miranda Gallardo (2019, Illinois), 3B Hailey Gallegos (2019, Texas A&M), OF Alycia Flores (2019, Oklahoma), OF Jaelyn Operana (2019, Tennessee), OF Nyomi Jones (2019, Tennessee), C Jacey Bourgeois (2018, Colorado State), C Katelyn Mangrello (2020, UC Santa Barbara), 1B Kika Ramirez (2020, Cal State Fullerton), and OF Megan Delgadillo (2019, BYU).

Beverly Bandits Dorsey
I know what you're thinking. Really, another Bandits team? Yes, this Ohio based team is legit. They were co-champs with Bandits JT at Boulder IDT among the top teams in 16U minus Athletics Mercado. Loaded with top players from Ohio, the Bandits return a core of elite players including P Hope Straight (2019, Ohio State), 3B/1B Riley Zana (2020, Ohio State), and OF Taylor Heckman (2020, Ohio State). They have the ability to scrap with any team in the top 10.

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