Highlights from the Early Thanksgiving Showcase

Highlights from the Early Thanksgiving Showcase

Pictured: Taryn Atlee of Explosion-Denio/Wilson who was with her family in Paris a week ago when the terrorist attacks occurred.The Early Thanksgiving Showc

Nov 22, 2015 by Brentt Eads
Highlights from the Early Thanksgiving Showcase

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Pictured: Taryn Atlee of Explosion-Denio/Wilson who was with her family in Paris a week ago when the terrorist attacks occurred.

The Early Thanksgiving Showcase is one of 12 events produced by Surf City Tourneys and is the largest of the prestigious tournaments, covering 12 venues this weekend and fielding 330 teams.

The games kicked off Saturday morning at 8 am and the level of play—both at the team and individual—was impressive.

Here are some of the highlights Flo picked up on and off the seven fields at Harvard Park in Irvine, California…


An amazing story we heard about today came from the Explosion-Denio/Wilson camp.  

Taryn had a wild week in Paris as she went through the terrorist attacks, turned 19 and signed her LOI.
Taryn Atlee, a second baseman who just signed with Rutgers, went on a family trip to Europe the last few weeks and was in Paris on November 13 when a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killed over 130 people including 89 at the Bataclan theater.

“My family and I were out to dinner and were at a restaurant when we heard the explosions coming from the Bataclan,” she said earlier today.  “All of a sudden we went into lockdown as the restaurant learned what was going on from the TV.”

“We got back to our hotel and were in lockdown there for a day—they even came searched us and everyone.  The borders were closed in France and we couldn’t go to Belgium which was a bummer.”

It was a scary time, for sure, but two positives did happen during Taryn’s time abroad.

“I turned 18 during our stay there and I also signed my Letter of Intent in Europe.”


Walking to the Harvard fields today, we came across Field 7 and one of the best match-ups today as two powerhouses at the 18U division squared off: the So Cal A’s-Richardson team versus the So Cal Choppers-Fausett squad.

Both programs have looked strong this fall and the level of play was top-notch.  

Outfielder Hannah McEwen, a 2017 standout who has SEC and Big Ten interest, cracked a three-run for the A’s.

Also of note: long-time coach Doug Myers, who’s coached in the Batbusters and A’s organization with the younger age groups and was with the very successful A’s-Meyers/McNee 16U team recently, has moved up to the 18U team as an assistant to Bruce Richardson.

On the Choppers front, we learned that 2016 catcher Chloe Kerns committed to UConn this week and 2016 pitcher Stephanie Best, who is headed to Cal Poly, has just joined the team after being with the National Champion OC Batbusters-Haning/Stith team last year.

Best was thrown into the fire early yesterday, starting the first game of the day and looking impressive early on with her drop curve and change of speeds.

Some uncommitted Choppers to keep an eye on:

Vanessa Barron played an impressive third base Saturday for the So Cal Choppers.
--- 3B Vanessa Barron (2017): she drives down from Bakersfield to play and according to Head Coach Dean Fausett has “tons of talent and is a gym rat who wants to get better every time she works out.”
--- C Devon Casazza (2016): from Reno, she is looking heavily at Harvard, UConn, George Mason and Lehigh
--- 2B Kamryn Tiumalu (2017)
--- OF Gianna Marquecho (2017)

*** A ton of college coaches were at the Harvard fields today—everyone from Arkansas to Washington and pretty much every major school in-between.

You learn a lot of things from the grapevine and one was that Haley Cruse, a 2016 outfielder/second baseman with the Corona Angels, ended up signing with Oregon after being committed to Stanford.

Cardinal head coach Rachel Hanson reportedly talked with Ducks coach Mike White and put in a good word for Haley, even though the two teams will obviously face each other which is one of the things great about softball--programs working together to do what's best for the student-athlete. Think a college football coach would do that? Hardly.

Coach Hanson was there recruiting and perhaps was looking to fill the opening left by Cruse going to Eugene… or she could just be looking at players already in the fold like catcher Montana Dixon (2016, signed) and pitcher Maddy Dwyer (2017, committed) who were playing for So Cal A's-Richardson (see above).

Side note here:  one SEC coach told us how important it is to keep the relationship with a player going even after getting a commitment.  One notable senior had been committed to an ACC school but when she wasn’t “feeling the love” ended up signing with a Big 12 program.  It happens…


At the top we told you about Taryn Atlee, a member of the Explosion.  Brett Denio and Jim Wilson’s team looked good today and one reason is the team has added some top talent including players pulled up from the talented 16U team, Explosion Greg, which will likely be in our top 10-15 club teams at that age group when we compile our FAB 50 rankings in December.

To send in your FAB 50 16U top team nominations, e-mail:

One of them is Britney Allen, a third baseman/shortstop who is committed to Florida and looked strong today in the field and at the plate.

Another is a 2019 to watch is infielder AJ Alitore, who is a solid candidate to make the Hot 100 list when we launch that in January.

AJ, according to Coach Wilson, is “super good, she is excellent on defense and has gap-to-gap home run power.”


Another top 10 candidate for the FAB 50 16U team rankings is Texas Glory-Naudin and they are loaded with young talent… here are four that stood out today:
Mya Stevenson, Peyton Blythe, Jayda Coleman and Zariy Stiner of Texas Glory-Naudin.

--- P Mya Stevenson (2018): she committed to Virginia on October 12 of this year and said “once I went there I knew it’s where I wanted to go. I love the academics and the coaches.”  Mya throws a drop curve, a regular drop, a riseball and change.

--- OF Peyton Blythe (2018): a speedy triple threat a the plate, she committed to Texas Tech in August. She’s one of two Red Raider commits on the team, the other is P/UT Brooke Blackwell.

--- OF Zariya Stiner (2018): great speed, she reportedly ran so fast at a Glory tryout that organization head Kevin Shelton asked her to run again… like in the high 2.4-low 2.5 home-to-first range.  Her mother allegedly was an Olympic track qualifier.

--- SS Jayda Coleman (2020): this eighth grader could arguably be the top prospect in the eighth grade right now. She’s a lefty triple threat at the plate and calls Frisco, Texas home and will go The Colony High School next year.  Jayda has been called by Big 12 coaches as the “best all-around player in her class” and is noted for her outstanding defensive play, especially her range. One coach said she’s making college level plays right now.  

But she can hit for power too which is why she has every major after her including Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Oregon, Texas, UCLA and many more big-name schools from conferences like the Big 12 and SEC.

Jayda has visited Oklahoma, Florida, Texas A&M and Texas already and was a key player on the Directv Genies 12U team that reached the PGF National Championship Game in 2014, losing to the So Cal A’s.

*** When FloSoftball compiles the 2019 Hot 100 class, don’t be surprised if there are a trio of players in the top 20, maybe even the top 10, from Mark Campbell’s OC Batbuster 14U team.

Many coaches at that age level are calling this team the one to beat at the age group and it’s no surprise as Campbell’s team has played up at the 16U level a lot this year, including at Diamond 9 in Orlando, and done very well.

Three 2019’s you’ll be hearing a lot about this upcoming year are:

--- C/IF/OF Val Pero (2019): a right-hander, she hit the cover off the ball today and schools like Washington and Oregon were watching closely.  She’s very athletic and says Coach Campbell: “You can ask her to line up at catcher one game, third the next and centerfield after that and she’ll do all of them well.”

--- SS/OF Maya Brady (2019): Maya bats left and is another standout athlete who can hit, run and bunt well. She’s being looked at by UCLA and one source says she’s New England Patriot QB Tom Brady’s niece, but haven’t confirmed that.  Yes or no, she’s a stellar player in her own right!

--- C/1B/3B Sharlize Palacios (2019): Sharlize recently committed to Arizona and she has a big stick to go along with her strong catching skills.

Finally, there’s also a 2020 on the Batbusters-Campbell team getting a ton of attention: Zaida Puni is a 3B/SS who is big and strong already with a power bat and is being recruiting by UCLA and Arizona also.


Another 2020 that’s getting strong looks already is 3B Kayla Baptiste of Dave Lotti’s Rhode Island Thunder 18U team.

She’s so good hitting from the 2-hole that the lefty slapper led the Thunder in batting this fall, hitting over .500.  Yes, that’s against players who are as much as five years older than her.

Kayla runs in the 2.65-2.69 second range home-to-first according to Lotti who adds, “This kid is very legit, she has an athletic build and her ceiling is very high.”

The infielder will visit UConn in December and Penn State in January.  Joining her on the Penn State trip will be Liana Antonelli, a 2019 shortstop.


From the “it’s never too late” department, comes the story of Sydney Bates, a 2016 pitcher who tripped to Florida State during Signing Week, was offered and will sign with the Seminoles next April.

She has a great riseball and impressed coaches at the FSU camps.  Syd had played with the Gold Coast Hurricanes prior to last year when she played with Florida Gold.

The senior played with Kevin O’Donnell’s Jersey Intensity Premier team a bit at PGF Nationals and joined full-time this fall.

Said O’Donnell about Syd, “She came to us looking for an opportunity to play against nationally elite competition and we checked her out as a player and person and felt she’d be a great fit.”

“Syd is really committed to the sport and she has great upside.  Her size and presence on the field are great and her best years are yet to come.”