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Over the last 10 years, PA Chaos has developed into one of the top programs in the Northeast. One of the top up-and-coming teams in the organization is the 14U Premier PA Chaos team that is stacked with talent from four different states. Head coach Eric Thrush talks about the history of the program and why his 14U club will be one of the top teams to watch in the 2018 season.
Want to see PA Chaos in action? Watch Faster2First to see what the buzz is all about.
When did the team/program start and how/why did it come to be?
The PA Chaos was founded in 1997 by Bob Drumheller and Jeff Celucci to give girls in the 18U division the opportunity to participate in softball at a level of play not available to most high school or local travel teams. In 2000, the leadership of the organization was taken over by Joe Spina, who is now in his 19th year and coaches the 18U Chaos Gold Team as well as continuing to lead the organization as it has grown from one team to as many as six.
The PA Chaos has produced players such as Maggie Balint, a sophomore standout pitcher at the University of Oregon, Maddie Penta, who was just listed at No. 9 on the 2020 Hot 100 list and Morgan Mesaros, who was ranked No. 9 on the 2021 Hot 100 list.
The future looks bright for the PA Chaos, as this year they have managed to assemble a group of top 2022/2023 All-Americans. Coach Eric Thrush has assembled this team as he transitioned the core of his team from the Banshee's organization, which produced two PONY national championships in 2017. Five players from the 12U PONY national championship team, who were all USA Elite Select Futures Northeast All-Americans and/or USA Softball Northeast All-Americans created the foundation on which coach Thrush built his PA Chaos 14U-Premier team. The players who have rounded out this talented roster were all recruited from the All-American teams over the past three years.
Where are you based? Where do your athletes come from (all locally, some out of state)?
The PA Chaos organization is based in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 14U-Premier team is made up of players from four different states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. The majority of the players are from southeastern Pennsylvania.
What was the purpose of creating the team (showcase players, win titles, develop skills, etc.)?
To win 14U PGF Nationals in 2019.
What have been some of your successes in terms of winning or placing at events?
- Newtown Rock Fall Starter, September 24 -- First Place
- USA Elite Select World Fastpitch Championship Qualifier, October 1 - First Place
What makes the organization unique?
All players are USA Elite Select Futures Northeast All-Americans and/or USA Softball Northeast All-Americans. The All-American experiences allowed these talented players to create a bond between players of a similar mindset. The mindset was to learn to play the game at a high level, play the best competition that you can and continue to hold yourself accountable for your results. Above all, know that this game cannot be won with one or two strong players. Winning consistently takes a team of strong players at all positions. These players learned that when you play for each other, all players grow stronger.
What's your softball background and how did you get to the point of leading the team?
This is my sixth year coaching club softball, and I have lead my team to a third-place and second-place finish and a national championship at one of the Northeast Regional Tournaments over the past three years consecutively. In the beginning of my coaching career I was simply the only one who raised my hand to volunteer to coach an 8U team. Over the years I have tried to give my best to my players by learning on my own, attending skills and coaching clinics, and just working hard to make myself the best coach that I can be each day. I've tried not to worry about how good of a coach that I will be 10 years from now or compare myself to the great coaches of our sport. I just try to make myself better than I was yesterday.
How many teams are there in the organization overall?
There are currently seven teams in the PA Chaos organization.
Has there been a key moment or defining experience in the team's history?
Our future will define us -- not our past. There is greatness in our future and the journey to greatness never ends.
What is your primary focus or goal with this team?
Play for each other and work as a team to recover from failure -- because failure will happen, eventually.
What do you think are the strengths of the team?
We have three very strong pitchers who have realized over the past year that they cannot be the only strong pitcher on a team, if they want their team to win consistently. We also have strong catching and defense to back up our pitchers. Our offense has lots of speed to play small ball as well as the strength to hit for power throughout the lineup. The last head coach that we faced said "our offense is overwhelming."
If there is one thing you would say that separates you from other club programs, what would it be?
Training and a focus on the players, not profit. All teams train together throughout the winter so young players train beside older players. Older players get a chance to lead and teach while the younger players are pushed to improve and keep up. The PA Chaos is still a not-for-profit organization. High fees to help pay coaches is not part of the program. All coaches are volunteers and coach because they love to coach.
Meet PA Chaos 14U Premier
Madison "Mayday" Knight | P/SS | (2022, uncommitted)
Knight is a 6-foot tall strong athlete who pitches with velocity and spin. She hits for power and has always had an OBP of over .600. Knight will anchor the middle of the lineup and bring fear to most pitchers and batters who face her. She was a USA Softball All-American, three-time USA Elite Select Futures All-American Direct select, Select 30 Camp, two-time Faster2First All Star, and a USA Softball Class "A" Pennsylvania state champion.
Sofia Peterson | 3B | (2022, uncommitted)
Peterson is a 5-7 power hitter who has great quickness and instincts at third base. She will likely be the clean-up hitter who can hit the long ball in big situations. Peterson had two home runs in the national championship game this past year, demonstrating her clutch hitting capability. She was a USA Softball All-American, USA Elite Select Futures All-American, Faster2First All Star, PONY National Champion, USSSA Eastern National Champion, USSSA Eastern National runner-up, and defensive tournament MVP and a USA Softball Class "A" Pennsylvania state champion.
Madison Seidel | P/C | (2022, uncommitted)
Seidel is that rare pitcher/catcher combo that plays both positions at a high level. She uses her velocity and spin to beat hitters when pitching and also her 1.7 second pop time to throw runners out from behind the plate the next game. Seidel is a 5-7, strong, versatile athlete who hits for power and has had an OBP of over .600 for as many years as I have been coaching. She was a USA Softball All-American, three-time USA Elite Select Futures All American Direct Select, two-time Faster2First All Star, PONY National Champion, and USSSA Great Lakes National runner-up and defensive tournament MVP and a USA Softball Class "A" Pennsylvania state champion.
Catelyn Thrush | MI/OF | (2022, uncommitted)
Thrush plays the game with lots of speed and quickness. She has a great glove and great instincts for tracking fly balls as well as playing in the middle infield and making tough plays look easy. Thrush is also capable of hitting for power or using her speed to force the defense make plays quickly. She was a USA Softball All-American, two-time USA Elite Select Futures All American, Faster2First All Star, PONY National Champion and USSSA Great Lakes National runner-up, and a USA Softball Class "A" Pennsylvania state champion.
Kellie Zoerb | 1B/C | (2022, uncommitted)
Zoerb brings a lot of versatility to our offense in the lead off position. She is a 5-6 power slapper who has the speed to lay down the sneaky bunt and get to first in under three seconds. Zoerb will read the defense and independently decide where the weaknesses are and then execute hitting the ball anywhere. On the field, she is a very athletic first baseman who can cover lots of ground in a hurry. Zoerb was a USA Elite Select Futures All-American Direct Select and Faster2First All-Star.
Karissa Potteiger | C/UTL | (2022, uncommitted)
Potteiger is one of our very capable field generals who does the dirty work behind the plate. She plays the game with a tremendous amount of heart and passion. Potteiger is also a strong hitter who can hit for power and use her quickness and terrific instincts to beat a defense by reading weaknesses and exploiting them. She was a USA Elite Select Futures All-American Direct select, Faster2First All-Star, and a USSSA state champion.
Nicole Lioumis | SS/C/3B | (2022, uncommitted)
Lioumis is a 5-6 strong, versatile athlete who can play many positions at a high level. She moves well in the infield and has a very strong arm, plus she provides another strong catching option for the team. Lioumis adds another bat with home run power to the middle of our order and has great speed on the base paths. Lioumis was a USA Elite Select Futures All-American Direct select, Faster2First All-Star, USSSA Class "B" State Champion, USSSA Eastern National runner-up, and a USA Softball Class "A" Pennsylvania state runner-up.
Haley McMenamin | MI/OF | (2023, uncommitted)
McMenamin is a very versatile athlete who can use her speed and strength to play anywhere on the field. She adds a left-handed bat to the lineup and is capable of hitting for power or using her speed to get on base by using small ball. McMenamin was a USA Softball All-American, Faster2First All Star, PONY National Champion, PONY National runner-up, and a USSSA Delaware state champion.
P/MI Genevieve Ebaugh (2022, uncommitted)
Genevieve is yet another strong pitcher who is already getting the attention of some Big time D1 schools. Genevieve has great velocity and spin plus her variety of moving pitches makes her a great strikeout pitcher. She also adds a great bat with power and lots of speed to our lineup. Genevieve was a USA Softball All American, 2x USA Elite Select Futures All American, 2x Faster2First All Star, 2x PONY National Champion, PONY National runner-up and a USSSA Delaware State Champion
Elizabeth Gray | OF/3B | (2023, uncommitted)
Gray is the definition of speed. This one is hard to get out even for the best defenses. The speed of Gray puts pressure on defenses and has forced many bad throws to first. Gray also takes her great speed to the outfield to cover lots of ground or can play the hot corner because of her very quick transition. She was a USA Softball All-American, Faster2First All Star, PONY National Champion and USSSA Great Lakes National runner-up, and a USA Softball Class "A" Pennsylvania state champion.