Club Spotlight: Lady Blues 14U Elite On The Rise In North Carolina
Club Spotlight: Lady Blues 14U Elite On The Rise In North Carolina
The Lady Blues grow to 18 teams in North Carolina. Meet the Lady Blues 14U Elite
The Lady Blues 14U Elite squad emerged out of North Carolina as a growing organization developing young athletes to play at the D1 level. Head coach, Brian Hall details the growth of the Lady Blues program what separates them from other programs.
When did the team/program start and how/why did it come to be? The Lady Blues were founded by Rodney Threatt in 2000 with a goal to provide a quality, supportive environment for young ladies to pursue their dream of academic excellence and playing softball at the highest level. To date the organization has helped over 200 and counting young ladies reach the dream of playing softball and receiving an education.
Brian Hall and Brad Weisner with Lady Blues Elite were brought together in 2015 as 12U team after merging with another talented group of young ladies out of the Charlotte area. Ultimately the dedication and the support group of coaches and parents solidified the overall creation of this team. Every player has a goal and wants to be a part of something special and the coaches are 100% invested in seeing each individual reach their goal.
Where are you based? Where do your athletes come from (all locally, some out of state?) The Lady Blues Elite are based out of Granite Falls, NC and have players that are from different areas of North Carolina including the Charlotte area, Hickory, Granite Falls, Shelby, and Elkin. The team ranges between 9 different high schools and middle schools and everyone is within 2-3 hours driving range.
What was the purpose of creating the team (showcase players, win titles, develop skills, etc.)? When the team was created, each player was asked why they play softball and the answers were anonymously the same, to develop into a player that can play college softball at their highest level. Each individual understands that they will be pushed by their peers and their coaches to be better and welcome the challenge.
What have been some of your successes in terms of winning or placing at events? As a first year 14U the Lady Blues Elite played a very competitive schedule including several 16U tournaments. Some of the year highlights were finishing No. 17 overall in the Atlanta Legacy, runner up in Fall Scenic City Showcase, finished 4-1 in the D9 Sun Classic Showcase in Orlando, finished strong in the PGF National Qualifier losing to eventual qualifier winner FAB 50 No. 12 ranked EC Bullets 5-3, No. 1 finish in the ASA Diamond Classic Fall Showcase in Spartanburg, runner-up in the Triple Crown Showcase Hot Times Classic finishing 8-1 and finishing No. 2 runner-up in the ASA State Championship behind another strong FAB 50 - No. 28 Team NC Baylog.
What makes the organization unique? The willingness to support each other. From our founder Rodney Threatt down to the players, we all hold ourselves to the highest standards and thrive on competing hard but playing with respect. There have been several times I have heard feedback from other teams, coaches and umpires on what a great organization we have by the way our players handled their selves during play and it means a lot because the way we develop are players extends much further out than batting mechanics and defense, we hope that the team camaraderie and the challenges ultimately prepare them for their future down the road.
What's your softball background and how did you get to the point of leading the team? Coach Weisner and I have been blessed to be around and a part of baseball/softball for several years as Brad Weisner has coached for the over 6 years with a local organization before taking on the job with the Blues. I played baseball over 18 years including playing baseball on the Elmendorf AFB team as a pitcher and having a short stint with the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in the mid-1990s. I was later drawn into volunteering with the youth while on base. After returning to my home state, I found my way back into girl's youth softball and have been involved since 2011.
Both Coach Weisner and I were asked by the parents and organization and after talking we decided we would work together to create the best environment and opportunities we could for these young ladies to develop to achieve the next level.
How many teams are there in the organization overall? Currently the Lady Blues organization have 18 teams throughout the state.
Has there been a key moment or defining experience in the team's history? A defining moment I believe for this team was in the early stages of the development in becoming a competitive team was when we actually lost a tournament within the state to a team that was currently ranked in the No. 27 in the FAB 50 and was well deserving. Instead of backing down or feeling intimidated, the team came out and took the lead early and never let up. Going into the 6th inning we lost the lead and ended up losing 6-5 to what was a better more experienced team, but I loved the kids fight an couldn't have been prouder because I knew they gave it their all and earned a little more respect that day. At the end of the day, I've always believed that we gain more confidence and experience from a hard fought battle than earning a plastic trophy.
The team also showed resilience when one of our own, Lauren Spears was badly injured tearing her ACL in a tournament. Lauren refused to leave the bench during the tournament even though she could not walk without crutches. The team showed the fight Lauren did and refused to lose as they played for Lauren finishing the Diamond Classic Showcase on top.
The team's history has been short but we have accumulated an 81-28 record as a first year 14U team and we have one young lady (Anna King) committed to play D1 at Campbell University with several others looking to make decisions in the upcoming months.
What is your primary focus or goal with this team? The primary goal is to introduce what I believe to be some of the most coachable hard working young ladies to the collegiate world of softball. Our focus is to play in the best 16U tournaments/showcases to compete against the best competition in teams.
What do you think are the strengths of the team? The personality of the team is playing for each other which has created a bond between the coaches and among each player. I have no doubt that we feel we have strong bats, a great defense and show tremendous effort but everyone on the team works together and cares about everyone succeeding. It's rare to see a team as close as these players, but I do feel that's what makes them strong.
If there is one thing you would say that separates you from other club programs, what would it be? "Coachable kids", simply put, these kids want to be here, they want to be coached, they want to get better, and they want to compete. It's very difficult to find that commitment in every club program.
Anything else interesting or fun that I could use to portray your team as a top organization? The team was accepted to the Pat Murphy Team Camp last summer in Alabama among 7 other teams nationwide. The team was presented a challenge day one because they had to introduce themselves to the Alabama staff on the field as everyone attending watched from the stands of Rhoads stadium. Our girls formulated a "dance routine" in the introductions, individually introduces themselves and to my surprise they won the competition. It was very creative, showed the personality and the teamwork that our organization promotes and also confirmed that some of us definitely can't dance.
Meet the Lady Blues 14U Elite
Sydney Kale #6 OF/P (2020, uncommitted)
Kale is a part of our pitching staff that is a hard throwing lefty that hits her spots consistently with excellent movement. A multitude of pitches that is highlighted with a knuckle ball that keeps the offense off-balance. She tallied 156 innings pitched with 125k's totaled over the year. Sydney also bats at the top of the line-up showing a consistency for getting our offense started.
Ciara Hanson #3 C/SS (2021, uncommitted)
Hanson has shown to be very solid behind the plate with a quick pop time around 1.9 seconds. She has been catching for several years, frames well, and challenges every base runner. "C" also came on at the end of year hitting for power and has shown to be very aggressive on the base pads.
Lauren Spears #13 CF (2020, uncommitted)
Spears suffered an injury earlier in the season but will be back in the early Fall of this year. Before the injury, Spears held one of the highest batting averages. She is a pure athlete that covered the outfield as good as any. She is very quiet but is the team's leader through her work ethic, attitude, and action on the field.
Taylor Breidt #00 MIF/OF (2020, uncommitted)
The definition of a coachable player is Taylor Breidt. Breidt will do anything asked from her coaches to better the team and does it with a smile. She has an exceptional glove and covers the field behind her as good as any. "T-bone" hit .492 in the fall leading the team in overall batting average.
Jasmine Hall #10 SS/OF (2021, uncommitted)
Hall is the youngest on the team but has no problem playing with her peers as she has one of the strongest arms and shows impressive range in the middle infield showing she is not afraid to get dirty. She also hit above .450 in the fall as she batted in the No. 2 spot and generated 23 stolen bases avoiding being thrown out generating a positive offensive weapon.
Anna King #16 P (2020, Campbell University, Big South Conference)
King is a 6-foot-1 pitcher that has a demanding fastball throwing in the low 60's as she just turned 15. Over the year, she has shown improvement as she has mastered a very effective change-up and rise ball that is still evolving. King had 171 strikeouts in 185 innings pitched with only 31 walks ending with an overall 2.38 ERA.
Madison Vinicombe #11 C/UTL (2020, uncommitted)
Vinicombe has shown to be a leader behind the plate and understands how the game is played. Works very hard in keeping runners from advancing and has a very strong arm on the throw down. She also supplies the power to offense as she had 6 home runs and batted over 400 this fall.
Regan Weisner #24 2B/3B (2021, uncommitted)
Weisner is a hard-nosed athlete that gets dirty when it's necessary. She has played 3rd base, 2nd and even RF showing great range in skill and has been very dependable with her glove. Weisner hits with power and has recorded 3 home runs this year along with a .444 average this summer.
Kingsley Reardon #1 2B/UTL (2020, uncommitted)
Reardon has shown to be an excellent utility player that has a goal to be efficient in all positions. She can handle second base but has played right field and been excellent at first showing to have an excellent glove. She has also shown to be a great leader and shown maturity beyond her years as she leads the team in prayer and has no problem speaking up as a leader when necessary.
Haley Price #4 3B/P (2020, uncommitted)
Price joined the team this fall, as she blends in with the team at 3rd showing a very strong arm and a solid bat. She has also pitched and has been efficient in the time she has been on the mound showing a curve ball that has impressive movement. Price has also shown the athleticism to play multiple positions including centerfield and first base. Haley has shown a consistent bat with power, batting near 400 with 1 home run this fall.
Grace Kiser #65 3B/P/1B (2020, uncommitted)
Kiser just recently joined the team this fall and has immediately had an impact offensively hitting .430. Grace joins the team as a pitcher and has shown potential to being very good off the mound with her drop ball being her best pitch. Grace has also shown too comfortable at first base and will rotate between first and third when she's not pitching.
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