Texas F2F: Last FloSoftball Stream of the Year

The Halo facility in Texas (field).jpeg

The popular Faster2First (“F2F”) series moves into McKinney, Texas, next month with the third of the four events planned for this fall and winter.

Following stops in Mt. Olive Township, New Jersey, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the F2F tour will bring out top athletes around the Southwest for the December 1-3 weekend event preceding the last F2F weekend, which will be held January 5-7 in Vero Beach, Florida, at Historic Dodgertown.

But first comes the Texans’ time to shine at the new facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex called “Diamond Kings,” which the softball world refers to as the “Halo,” and is tied into the Texas Glory organization.

It’s a sparkling new venue proves the axiom that “in Texas, everything is bigger” as the Halo complex features a 200-foot completely turf softball field with spacious 30 by 12 foot dugouts and a second turf field that, through the use of temporary fences, can be set up for baseball or softball games.

There are also five outdoor cages sized at 50 by 15 feet east of the softball field’s first baseline and four 70 by 15 feet cages on the west side of the spacious indoor facility which is over 23,000 square feet.

Inside, the athletes, coaches and family members can enjoy several meeting rooms, upper and lower viewing areas, and a 120 by 150 feet turf surface that houses 20 batting cages.

“We are very excited about having such a great facility to call home and the opportunities for training and development that it will provide,” said Kevin Shelton, head of the Glory program. “Another great benefit is the ability to welcome big events like Faster2First. The Halo's flexibility and versatility provide multiple playing and training surfaces allowing us to optimize multiple activities. Hosting F2F as one of our first big events gives us a great opportunity to show off this state-of-the-art facility.”

Note: space is limited for the Texas Faster2First event. For consideration to be invited, you can call and/or email Faster2First event director Joe Van Valkenburg at 201-741-5390 and jvanvalkenburg@faster2first.com. For those interested in being considered for one of the approximate 150 spots at the final event in Florida, you can register on the Faster2First.

What Is F2F?

The F2F Showcase is a nice balance of instruction, competition, and exposure. Over about a 48-hour period, the athletes receive classroom instruction, testing, analysis, development, and evaluation off the field, and then compete in drills and ultimately games against other elite athletes.

The data is recorded and videos and photos are taken to help analyze the athletes' performances and also to be used by FloSoftball for Hot 100 consideration and articles and for college coaches to evaluate for recruiting consideration.

The first event held last December in Myrtle Beach saw players from 15 states attend and come from as far away as California and Texas and featured more than 20 FloSoftball Hot 100 players.

The success of the initial event led to the four events this fall and winter with more planned in 2018 across the nation.

Level of Competition

The caliber of players at last December's showcase included Hot 100 players such as 1B/OF Avery Goelz of the Tampa Mustangs TJ, a 2020 commit to Florida, and SS Riley Blampied of Georgia Impact-Newland, also a 2020 commit who is headed to Alabama. These athletes proved on the field why they are headliners in the their class.

The competition also allowed other national standouts — such as Taylor Middlebrook, a 2020 3B/SS with the Birmingham Thunderbolts who committed to Mississippi State during the F2F camp — to wow and impress.

Middlbrook, who was rated No. 97 in the first 2020 Hot 100 list, hit several long home runs and was one of the most impressive players of the more than 150 who attended last year. Her strong play at F2F and in later showcases helped her jump to the No. 33 spot in the latest Hot 100 for her class.

As to why she attended the event, Taylor commented: "I believe I'm one of the best and I wanted to compete with the best!" Her mother, Marcia, added, "Taylor loved the Faster2First camp. Everyone on the staff was awesome and it was a great experience all around."

Younger players shined too, like a pair of top-10 honorees in the 2021 Hot 100: SS Brooke Blankenship of Tampa Mustangs-Hennigar, a commit to Florida State and No. 2-ranked player in her class, and OF McKenzie Redoutey with Georgia Impact-Gusaeff, ranked No. 8 who later verbally committed to LSU. Both players, like the aforementioned 2020 players, made the camp's all-star game.

"Faster2First helped me improve my game by learning from some of the best in the country and playing along the best in the country," Blankenship said. "I stay in touch with my teammates from the all-star game and see them at many tournaments. [F2F officials] did a great job of allowing us to get a lot of awesome reps and play in game situations. It was definitely a place that helped my recruiting process!"

Also wowing coaches and onlookers was Mia Williams from Florida, a 2023 middle infielder for Georgia Impact — Fisher, who recently became one of the very first commits in her class.

And dozens of additional players who weren't on the recruiting radar impressed enough to now be getting recruiting and greatly increase their exposure to college coaches.

Hot 100 Consideration

Events like F2F are hugely helpful not just for what is shown on the field in terms of position-specific skills, but also the growing importance of athletic testing and measurements.

"We're constantly asked, 'How can I get my player considered for the Hot 100 lists?'" explained Brentt Eads, rights acquisition manager of FloSoftball. "The Faster2First format is a great way for us to validate those standouts we know about and thought were Hot 100 caliber while finding new ones who deserved to make the lists.

"Having measurable data that is legit and accurate — like a 2.65 home-to-first time — is a great additional tool to have in helping us select and rank players."

Astute Leadership

One of the key reasons for the event's success was the on-field directors who come with notable backgrounds of success.

Overseeing the player development aspect of the camp is Rob Crews, considered one of the top hitting coaches in the nation who has worked with MLB teams like the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, elite DI softball programs like UCLA, Florida, LSU, and Stanford, and top club programs up and down the East Coast including Georgia Impact — whom he accompanied to Colorado for a week this summer — along with Team NC, Carolina Elite, Gold Coast Hurricanes, Atlanta Premier, East Cobb Bullets, TC Tremors, and the NC Lady Blues among others.

An energetic and vocal presence on the field, Crews said of his F2F role: "My job is to help in the selection and organization of the event staff and to get everybody on the same page in understanding how to make Faster2First a unique experience for every participant. It's not easy, though. For example, selecting which technology we're going to use and then training staff on all the technology is probably the most difficult part, but organizing an event comes easy for our staff because — between the F2F administrators and myself — we have so much experience running successful events."

Crews added that he takes the job seriously of evaluating the players at the camp.

"A lot of the subjective evaluations such as hitting to the opposite field, separation in a swing, arm angles, and position specific analysis requires a level of experience to know how to project. We try to keep the numbers as low as realistically possible in order to get all participants ample amount of reps."

The lead talent evaluator and recruiting analyst is Amanda Freed, the former gold-medal-winning Olympian for the USA Softball national team who also won a national championship at UCLA and was a three-time All-American. Freed, now a broadcaster for the Pac-12 Network, will also oversee the pitching components as she was an elite hurler and utility player through her national championship-winning club days all the way through winning a title in the pro ranks.

2018 Hot 100 Breakdown


We’ve revealed the best seniors in the country in our 2018 Hot 100 list and celebrated their commitment at 2018 signing day. Now it’s time to take a deep dive into how those rankings break down.The top 100 seniors in the country hailed from 25 different states with California boasting the most Hot 100 players with 27. Georgia’s 13 players made it the second highest state, and Texas rounded out the top three states with 11 Hot 100 players. 

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSoftball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Signing Day Spotlight: Jasmine Sievers

Jas Sievers

When I was in high school, I would babysit Jasmine Sievers and I remember teaching her how to form a Longhorn with her tiny fingers. Absorbing the game since she was in diapers, Jasmine embarked on her own softball journey leading her to Oregon. 

Was Michael Lotief's Firing Bogus Or Justified? UL Players Speak Out

Brad Kemp Lotief

In an offseason full of softball coaching changes, the latest shoe to drop was Michael Lotief at Louisiana University in Lafayette.

Coach Michael Lotief Issues Statement, ULL Lawsuit To Follow


Statement from coach Mike Lotief regarding his recent termination from the Louisiana-Lafayette softball program, made through his attorney John E. McElligott, dated November 19, 2017:

Rising Star: 2021 Emmy Guthrie Commits To The Oklahoma Dynasty

Emmy Guthrie

Freshman pitcher, Emmy Guthrie is geared up to join the Oklahoma dynasty. The Oklahoma native joins an all-star group of recruits who will likely see a championship in their future. We catch up with Guthrie and get her insight into her recruiting experience.

FloSoftball Technique Guide

Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports Chip Bennett

All the softball technique you never knew you needed is all right here. With a subscription, you can access our technique library, rankings, films, and live events.

Team NC Is Making Noise In The Tar Heel State

Team NC

Coach Nate Eaton is developing a very talented Team NC team that is traveling the country to rise through the ranks putting the Tar Heel state on the map. He shares the history of the program and what makes this 14U club one of the teams to watch in the 2018 season.

This Week's Verbal Commits And Team Changes (11/16)

TN Fury

Clemson hauls in its first class and signs its first ever recruit, Hot 100 pitcher Logan Caymol. Many questions arose when we saw Caymol and Arielle Oda listed as uncommitted going into signing week. Those questions were answered — and John Rittman is off to a great start as the head coach of Clemson.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloSoftball!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

Clemson Softball 2020 Vision: Starting From Scratch With Hot 100 Players

Buford (1).jpg

Clemson Softball currently has no record. No wins, no losses, no NCAA Tournament appearances. In fact, Clemson will not start playing softball until 2020. 

How Ruby Rojas Makes The Softball World A Better Place

Ruby Rojas

Coach, teacher, student, advocate, defender, and player — just a few of the words to describe Ruby Rojas.