Rising Star: Wisconsin Bound Peyton Bannon Keeps Getting Better


When players are given the opportunity to come through in the clutch, some ramp up their adrenaline, become overanxious, and often walk away disappointed with the result. Others, like Peyton Bannon, have the ability to calm their breathing, slow the pace of the game in their mind, and not allow the moment to overtake them.

“When I go up (to the plate), I try to stay as relaxed as possible,” explained the 5-foot-7 senior shortstop for Richmond-Burton High and Illinois Chill Gold’s 18U squad. “I need to do the job for my team, and I’m determined to get a hit.”

That mindset has paid off numerous times for Bannon, a Wisconsin-commit who will make that commitment official on National Signing Day. During the Colorado Sparkler and Fireworks Tournament last summer, the Chill trailed Beverly Bandits-Dorsey by a run heading into the seventh inning. Bannon smacked the first of back-to-back home runs by the team that helped seal the win. In another game during the DeMarini Invitational, Bannon hit a triple with the bases loaded for another Chill victory.

“There’s no moment too big for her,” said Chill 18U coach Gerry Quinn, who has coached Bannon since she joined the organization in 14U. “She’s somebody you would definitely want up if you needed a run driven in.”

Bannon, a shooting guard for her high school basketball team, often played baseball with her two older brothers, Bobby and Brandon. 

Her parents, Eric and Janice, also coached her in Little League. They set up a makeshift field in the yard of their home, which sits on an acre in Spring Grove, Illinois. 

The family would often engage in five-on-five or nine-on-nine games with other boys in the neighborhood. It was while playing Little League that one of the Chill coaches noticed her and persuaded Eric and Janice to allow their daughter to play softball and join their team.

“One of my fond memories of Peyton playing baseball, she would go up to pitch and probably nine times out of 10 strikes out the boys,” Janice recalled with a laugh. “Their fathers would get all upset.”

Peyton was smaller than most of the other girls when she first joined the Chill. But Quinn immediately noticed her above-average instincts.

“She hadn’t added a lot of physical strength, but everything she did was so fundamentally sound,” Quinn explained. “Even though she couldn’t hit the ball far, she could hit it consistently. She would get hits and have a huge impact on big games.”

Eric was a catcher in high school, and Janice played baseball and softball. Brandon is currently a catcher and second baseman at the University of Illinois-Springfield. Each has helped Peyton in various stages of her development, along with private hitting instructor Jim Donovan. But it’s Quinn, Peyton says, who has made her into the player she is today. Eric is quick to agree.

“The amount of work Gerry puts into his program is unbelievable,” Eric said. “He’s finished high in a lot of prestigious tournaments. I couldn’t even guess how many Division I college softball players he’s developed.”

Peyton has grown four inches over the past two years, which has helped increase the power in her swing. She learned at an early age how important the lower half of her body is in developing bat speed. Her mechanics have improved dramatically under Donovan’s instruction. During her freshman year, she was named one of FloSoftball’s Hot 100 freshmen, leading the Richmond-Burton Rockets to their first regional title in six years. She batted .379 with two homers, 25 RBI, 29 runs scored and eight doubles.

As a junior, Peyton hit .582 in 17 games, with 10 homers, 35 RBI, 26 runs scored and nine doubles. As the leadoff hitter for the Chill this past season, she batted .412 with seven homers, 24 RBI, 12 doubles and five triples. She also stole 18 bases.

Eric constantly stressed the importance of playing solid defense to all his children, and Peyton has taken that advice to heart. She loves the action and responsibility the shortstop position requires.

“That’s where most of the balls are hit,” she said. “If a ball is hit to me, there’s always something going on. I’m always going to have to cover bases. I’ve always been good at reading the hops. I’ve played there my whole life, so it comes naturally, I guess.”

With National Signing Day less than a month away, Peyton is eager to experience that life-changing moment when she signs her letter. Prior to the change in recruiting rules, she was contacted by a number of schools during her freshman year, including Illinois, Northern Illinois, Iowa State, and DePaul. During her first visit to the Wisconsin campus, she felt an immediate connection with head coach Yvette Healy and her staff, whose .602 winning percentage is the highest of any coach in the program’s 21-year history.

Peyton was also impressed by the support and passion Badgers fans showed for all sports, including softball.

“My first visit, I remember saying if I had the chance to go here, this is where I want to be,” Peyton recalled. “The day I verbally committed, I went to a Pack the Stands game, and it was completely crowded. The whole outfield… everywhere was filled. People were standing.”

As she draws closer to graduation, Peyton hopes to lead the Rockets to their first-ever state title. She’ll bat third in the Chill 18U squad’s batting order, and she’d like the team to have a strong finish in the major tournaments this season.

What can the Badgers softball program expect to get when Peyton begins her freshman year next fall?

“They’ll get someone really versatile, which I think was one of the reasons they were interested in recruiting her,” Quinn said. “She can move all over the field. If they have kids on campus they like at certain positions, they’ll be able to move Peyton where they need somebody.”

They’ll also get a player who won’t be afraid to embrace the many clutch moments that are sure to come.

USA Softball Announce Assistant Coaches for 2020 Women's National Team

OKLAHOMA CITY – USA Softball is proud to announce the selection of Laura Berg (Corvallis, Ore./Head Coach at Oregon State), Howard Dobson (Baton Rouge, La./Assistant Coach at LSU), Tairia Flowers (Northridge, Calif./Head Coach at CSUN) and Heather Tarr (Redmond, Wash./Head Coach at Washington) as Assistant Coaches for the 2020 USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT)*. Selected from the USA Softball WNT Coaching Pool, they will join Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla./Head Coach at South Florida) in leading the WNT next July in the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan where the U.S. will look to reclaim the Gold Medal.

Signing Day Spotlight: 2020 Texas A&M Outfielder Brionna Warren

On The Field With Texas A&M

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

No. 9 overall prospect Brionna Warren could very well be softball's next Ken Griffey Jr. The 6-foot-1 center fielder is a multisport athlete who brings tremendous power, speed, and defensive prowess. 

NPF Expands West Adding California Commotion To 2020 Season

NASHVILLE, TN (November 13, 2019) – National Pro Fastpitch announced today the addition of a new affiliate team that will enter the regular-season competition with the league in 2020.  The California Softball Commotion (CSC) will give the league a west coast presence for the first time since 2005.

Rising Star: Auburn-Commit Jessie Blaine Is Great At Just About Everything

At 17, Jessie Blaine has become accustomed to constant change. She was born in Wentzville, Missouri, but the right-handed-hitting catcher for Firecrackers TJ has lived in 11 different places throughout her childhood, including the state of Virginia four times. She’s currently enrolled as a junior at San Clemente (California) High, her third high school.

Top 25 Division I Softball Recruiting Classes For 2020 Prospects


The class of 2020 was certainly an impact class over the summer. No. 1 recruit Jayda Coleman and No. 3 Bailey Dowling captured Gold at the U-19 World Cup over Japan. While Auburn-commit Madi Penta and Arizona State-commit Allison Royalty pitched their way to National Championships. We break down the top 25 college softball recruiting classes.

Kaitlyn Alderink Will Finish The 2020 Season With Louisiana

LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Softball strengthened the depth of the infielders on its 2020 roster on Wednesday, and gained veteran experience for the group, as head coach Gerry Glasco announced the addition of Kaitlyn Alderink.

Rutgers Softball Coaches Under Fire, Accused Of Abuse From Former Players

A scathing report published Wednesday by Keith Sargeant and Matthew Stanmyre of NJ Advance Media alleges Rutgers University head coach Kristin Butler and her husband Marcus Smith, who serves as a volunteer assistant coach, created an environment during Butler’s inaugural season that resulted in physical and emotional abuse. 

Gem Softball October Data Report

SoftballCloud, a data aggregate software platform with long ties to the baseball community and partnerships with some of the key players in the technology industry, is taking the softball world by storm. SoftballCloud offers its customers a single platform to analyze and view data collected from multiple hardware sources including: Diamond Kinetics, 4D Motion, FlightScope, Yakkertech, Trackman, Blast Motion, Hittrax, and GameSense Sports. New partners are added frequently as the SoftballCloud name and brand become more prevalent in the market.

USA U17 Men's National Team Tops No. 2 Canada At Pan American

GUATEMALA CITY — In their U-17 Men’s Pan American Championship opener, the USA Softball U-17 Men’s National Team (MNT) claimed an impressive 10-5 eight-inning victory over world-ranked No. 2 Canada. Cody Gibbons (St. Paul, Minn.) went the distance for the Red, White, and Blue, while the offense exploded with a six-run eighth inning to capture the win.