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slot canyon

Softball Recruiting Areas

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I think it was Whack Hyder, former basketball coach at Georgia Tech, that said upon his retirement that he still liked coaching, but hated recruiting.  He just wanted to put up a notice on the athletic bulletin board saying " All persons interested in playing varsity basketball report to the gym at 4 P.M. Wednesday".

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Some of this has been covered in previous entries but will review this year’s players and the recruiting areas.  We had 2 players who played for the Birmingham Thunderbolts.  I suspect they were commits from the prior coaching staff…Maddie Majors and Carlee McCondichie.  We have a pitcher, Shelby Lowe,  committed for next year from the Thunderbolts.   I have noticed that a good number of players from the Thunderbolts sign with  Mississippi State and that was the case for 3 players this year  and another committed for next year.  Also interesting that 2 players on the Premier team signed with Maryland and that seems to be a program in turmoil. 

As noted in past entries we are now getting commits from Beverly Bandits.  This year Jaylin Calvert.  Also, I noticed on the Bandits site that our signee Maia Engelkes now appears on a Bandits team.  She previously played on a travel team in South Dakota.  I wonder if she was encouraged to play on a more competitive team to prepare her for college ball.   At this point, we have another player committed from the bandits for 2020, 2021 and two players 2022. 

Kaylyn Dismukes plays for Georgia Impact.   She plays at a smaller high school in Holtville, Alabama.  Her junior season she batted .453 and had 13 home runs.  314 Strikeouts. 

Final player 2019 class is Lindsey Garcia, a good hitting SS  from Broward County Fla. She plays for Gold Coast Hurricaines. 

If there is a trend it may be our entry into the Beverly Bandits.  Of course Coach Kettlehut coached with that organization prior to arriving at Auburn.  Hopefully we continue to draw from the Thunderbolts and I am not aware of any reason why that should not continue.  I would like to see players who are good people, good players and who want to play for and love Auburn.

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15 minutes ago, OlderWhiskey said:

I believe you omitted Maddison Koepke from Dacula, GA, who plays for Mill Creek HS and the East Cobb Bullets, the team that Kelley Lynch pitches for.  

Thanks whiskey, I had her on my list but managed to overlook  her in my post.  

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On ‎12‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 6:02 PM, slot canyon said:

Some of this has been covered in previous entries but will review this year’s players and the recruiting areas.  We had 2 players who played for the Birmingham Thunderbolts.  I suspect they were commits from the prior coaching staff…Maddie Majors and Carlee McCondichie.  We have a pitcher, Shelby Lowe,  committed for next year from the Thunderbolts.   I have noticed that a good number of players from the Thunderbolts sign with  Mississippi State and that was the case for 3 players this year  and another committed for next year.  Also interesting that 2 players on the Premier team signed with Maryland and that seems to be a program in turmoil. 

 

 

As noted in past entries we are now getting commits from Beverly Bandits.  This year Jaylin Calvert.  Also, I noticed on the Bandits site that our signee Maia Engelkes now appears on a Bandits team.  She previously played on a travel team in South Dakota.  I wonder if she was encouraged to play on a more competitive team to prepare her for college ball.   At this point, we have another player committed from the bandits for 2020, 2021 and two players 2022. 

 

 

Kaylyn Dismukes plays for Georgia Impact.   She plays at a smaller high school in Holtville, Alabama.  Her junior season she batted .453 and had 13 home runs.  314 Strikeouts. 

 

 

Final player 2019 class is Lindsey Garcia, a good hitting SS  from Broward County Fla. She plays for Gold Coast Hurricaines. 

 

 

If there is a trend it may be our entry into the Beverly Bandits.  Of course Coach Kettlehut coached with that organization prior to arriving at Auburn.  Hopefully we continue to draw from the Thunderbolts and I am not aware of any reason why that should not continue.  I would like to see players who are good people, good players and who want to play for and love Auburn.

 

 

Thanks for the updates....and ya just gotta love the names of those travel teams......great imagination. ....

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Not sure what a graduation marshal is/does, but it sounds like Ms. Podany has made the most of her college experience.  Congratulations to her for what she has done over 4 years, including this latest honor.

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What is the best  area/state for recruiting softball players.  How important is it to get players from said area/state?  There is a lot of “evidence” that would indicate that California is the champion when it comes to producing numbers of highly skilled and sought after  players.  I doubt this surprises anyone who follows the sport.  In support of this premise I looked at a couple of subjective areas.  A MAX PREP article that was a preseason ranking of 2018 softball top 50 high school teams.  Limiting myself to the top 20 there were 7 from California, 5 from Texas, with 2 each from Florida and Arizona.  Will mention that Daphne, Al came in at #37 (Aspyn Godwin) and Spain Park was # 36 (Maddie Majors).  I did not look to see how these predictions played out over the 2018 season. 

Looking at the National Fast Pitch Coaches Assn 2018 1 team All Americans there are 12 players listed; 3 pitchers and I think one utility player.  Exactly half of these players called California their home.  No other state claimed more than one player on the list.  Even Megan Kleist from Wisconsin,  appears to have played some of her club ball for a California team. 

I saw a “post” someone had done that stated that in the 2013 regionals of the “ace” pitchers, 25% were from California.  I do not have time to research these statements. 

If we were to agree that a lot of the top players come from California then what do we attribute this to.  An article about the Weekly’s at Tennessee quoted Ralph Weekly “competing 365 days”.  The article also stated that the Weekly’s have strong California ties but did not expand on that comment. 

The projected top ranked teams in the SEC for 2019 are as follows: 1 Florida-they have 5 California players and 11 from Florida.  2. Georgia – 1 Cal player and 15 Georgia players.  3. Tennessee – 5 California players and 7 from Tenn.  Auburn currently has 3 players from California and 9 from Alabama.

A couple of things likely work against some states in producing a lot of quality softball players; weather and delay in adapting fast pitch programs in high schools.  An article I saw regarding  Mississippi stated that in 2017 there were still 133 schools doing slow pitch SB.  This is nearly half the number from 8 years ago.   The Alabama High School Athletic Association did away with slow pitch softball in 2002.  I believe there have been other schools in the SEC slow to adopt FP on a large scale.  Looking at the Mississippi State program which has a 26 member roster, they only have 4 players from the state while they have 6 from Alabama and 4 from California (2 of whom transferred from AZ State).  I mentioned earlier that they tend to get a number of players from the Birmingham Thunderbolts.

Weather and proximity likely play a prominent role in attracting good players ( especially from the west coast)  However, teams with a winning history likely have some leverage there.  I would think it might be difficult to get a “beach girl” to go play in the northeast area of the country.  However Michigan (ranked preseason #10 has 3 from Cal and 4 from Fla.  They have a 20 member roster with 9 gals from Michigan.  Minnesota (preseason #24) has 2 Cal. Players on their 20 member roster with 8 from Minnesota.  Interestingly, I noticed they have just completed a 5 day training camp in Tampa Florida.  The average high temp in Minneapolis in January is about 24 degrees.

After all this blabbing does it matter…..maybe?  UCLA , with the weather and proximity advantage has been a force in the WCWS since its origins in 1982, winning 7 out of the first 11 played.  They were runner up in 2005 and last finished tops in 2010.  This year, all but 2 of their 25 players are from California.  Over the last dozen years or so the SEC has begun to stick their noses in the ring.  Tennessee was runner up in 2007, Florida was runner up in 2009and 2017 and won it in 2014 and 2015.  Bama won in 2012.  AU runner up 2016.  Two other teams come to mind as being a force in the sport.  Oklahoma who has 8 California players this year and Washington with 9 players.  Looking at last years winner and the 2019 preseason #1, Florida State, has only one player from California with the majority of the remaining players from Florida and Georgia.

Clearly, the state of California produces a lot of quality softball players who can be a big asset to any team.  However, it appears that there are equally talented players being developed around the country, especially in Texas,  Georgia and Florida.  I expect to see this trend in Alabama also.  Florida State demonstrated that you can win with mainly “regional talent” without seeking out players from the west coast ( I have no qualms with west coast players and appreciate those who wear the AU colors).  I believe if you have a good program in a favorable location of the country, you can attract good players.  After that there is an element of luck and playing well at opportune times that can lead to the ultimate success. 

I do not claim the above to be factual but rather rambling thoughts and opinions which I put together so I would not have to start working on my income taxes.

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Not surprised by the points of origin of softball players.  What Calif , Texas and Fla have in common are large populations and good weather.  It's reasonable that almost every state will turn out a couple of really good players but seems when a prodigy is discovered much further north than I-40 she ends up playing travel ball somewhere down south.

JMO but it's necessary to develop recruiting links in the populous southern states for any school that wishes to be a national factor.....and of course try to cherry pick the best from your own region.  Otherwise, Calif and Florida seem to have enough quality players to stock quite a few programs outside of those states.   Clint had some contacts out there and brought some good players to AU....just hoping MD is able to establish himself outside of SEC territory. 

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1 hour ago, AU64 said:

Not surprised by the points of origin of softball players.  What Calif , Texas and Fla have in common are large populations and good weather.  It's reasonable that almost every state will turn out a couple of really good players but seems when a prodigy is discovered much further north than I-40 she ends up playing travel ball somewhere down south.

JMO but it's necessary to develop recruiting links in the populous southern states for any school that wishes to be a national factor.....and of course try to cherry pick the best from your own region.  Otherwise, Calif and Florida seem to have enough quality players to stock quite a few programs outside of those states.   Clint had some contacts out there and brought some good players to AU....just hoping MD is able to establish himself outside of SEC territory. 

I remember reading a few articles back when the Myers were hired and they talked about how the revenues from the  SEC Network and revenue sharing in general has allowed SEC programs to really invest into softball facilities.  Making them the most attractive schools for players.

My sister and I use to check the rosters of NCAA Tournament teams and the rosters have clearly become more diverse over the last 6 years.   I remember years that North Carolina and Notre Dame teams that were majority California natives.  Every school would have at least 5 California girls on the roster.  It has been the fastest growing college sport tv wise the last couple of seasons.   From the skill level, to the sportsmanship and to just watch young people having fun playing the game is refreshing.

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Fast Pitch is still relatively new to the State of Alabama. Back in my travel ball coaching days, starting in the late 80s there were only two travel teams in the state. Both were out of the Hoover / Vestavia areas. We had to go to Tennessee or Georgia every weekend to play tournaments.  We were at a disadvantage because the high schools played slow pitch. The SEC was not playing Softball at the time.  Our pitching was way behind.

 Every year, more teams and age groups were developed.  Every year, the pitching in the state got better and better.  Mostly because dads and daughters would go to camps and instructors out of state.  Some of the dads would come back and teach other girls the basics and pitches.  

It was a big learning curve but the girls in Alabama progressed quickly and by the early 90s we were competing in National tournaments against the California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee teams.  Our girls got tons of attention from college coaches because they were unknown.  We had many girls go on to play college ball at schools like South Carolina (before they were SEC), Georgia Tech, Southwest Louisiana (LaLa now), Florida State and others.  

Now you can look at rosters of many southeastern area schools and see one of more from the State of Alabama.  It will continue to get better as long a season the interest among the girls continues.

 

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1 hour ago, around4ever said:

Fast Pitch is still relatively new to the State of Alabama. Back in my travel ball coaching days, starting in the late 80s there were only two travel teams in the state. Both were out of the Hoover / Vestavia areas. We had to go to Tennessee or Georgia every weekend to play tournaments.  We were at a disadvantage because the high schools played slow pitch. The SEC was not playing Softball at the time.  Our pitching was way behind.

 Every year, more teams and age groups were developed.  Every year, the pitching in the state got better and better.  Mostly because dads and daughters would go to camps and instructors out of state.  Some of the dads would come back and teach other girls the basics and pitches.  

It was a big learning curve but the girls in Alabama progressed quickly and by the early 90s we were competing in National tournaments against the California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee teams.  Our girls got tons of attention from college coaches because they were unknown.  We had many girls go on to play college ball at schools like South Carolina (before they were SEC), Georgia Tech, Southwest Louisiana (LaLa now), Florida State and others.  

Now you can look at rosters of many southeastern area schools and see one of more from the State of Alabama.  It will continue to get better as long a season the interest among the girls continues.

 

Thanks for that.  From what I can tell there are only about 4  18U teams in Alabama; is that about right?  Not sure how many would be practical.  Looks like Georgia may have twice that number?  I think it is always good to have some instate talent on the team as communities tend to take a lot of pride pulling for local players.  Some additional "stuff"....….The recently released preseason All SEC team consist of 14 players and 4 are from California and 3 from Florida.  No other state had more than a single player.   Arkansas has a 23 player roster with 10 California players and 5 from Arkansas.  Of course their coach, Courtney Deifel, played and graduated from Cal.  Ole Miss with 22 player roster has 5 from California, 4 from Texas and 3 from Florida and 1 from Mississippi.  

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1 hour ago, slot canyon said:

Thanks for that.  From what I can tell there are only about 4  18U teams in Alabama; is that about right?  Not sure how many would be practical.  Looks like Georgia may have twice that number?  I think it is always good to have some instate talent on the team as communities tend to take a lot of pride pulling for local players.  Some additional "stuff"....….The recently released preseason All SEC team consist of 14 players and 4 are from California and 3 from Florida.  No other state had more than a single player.   Arkansas has a 23 player roster with 10 California players and 5 from Arkansas.  Of course their coach, Courtney Deifel, played and graduated from Cal.  Ole Miss with 22 player roster has 5 from California, 4 from Texas and 3 from Florida and 1 from Mississippi.  

I haven't been involved with travel ball in 11 years since my daughter played her last 18U games.  Your numbers sound low, especially for Georgia.  

I thought the Thunderbolts had an 18 Gold team but it may just be a Class A team.  There is a White Lightning team and a Vipers team which would make three teams in Birmingham.  The Huntsville / Hartselle area always had at least two teams and Mobile / Baldwin County area always had two or more teams.  There was normally a team from the Auburn/Opelika/Russell County area.  Also the Dothan area normally had a team.  

But, there may not be enough interest to maintain all of those teams.  That's what prompted my last sentence in my original post. 

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One thing hurting softball among the younger ages is the emergence of women's soccer and softball being dropped from the Olympics.   I think it's being brought back for the next Olympics, but the damage has been done.  I know in my area the local rec leagues are down tremendously from when my daughter played back in the late nineties, and soccer is exploding with the success of the USA Women's team.  With that being said, the Southeast is closing the gap with more elite softball players.  I have a co-worker whose daughter plays for one of the elite teams (I know, I need to ask him which one) and they have made a few trips to California.  He tells me they have won a few tournaments out there.  Twenty years ago, that would have never happened.  Also, when Bammer won the WCWS, they were the first champion that didn't have any players from West of the Mississippi River.

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2 hours ago, saminbama said:

One thing hurting softball among the younger ages is the emergence of women's soccer and softball being dropped from the Olympics.   I think it's being brought back for the next Olympics, but the damage has been done.  I know in my area the local rec leagues are down tremendously from when my daughter played back in the late nineties, and soccer is exploding with the success of the USA Women's team.  With that being said, the Southeast is closing the gap with more elite softball players.  I have a co-worker whose daughter plays for one of the elite teams (I know, I need to ask him which one) and they have made a few trips to California.  He tells me they have won a few tournaments out there.  Twenty years ago, that would have never happened.  Also, when Bammer won the WCWS, they were the first champion that didn't have any players from West of the Mississippi River.

Actually, they had a few from west of the Mississippi but none from California. 

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Soccer did start impacting numbers in the 90's, but as much as it being influenced by Olympics was the fact it was cheaper and didn't take the skill that softball/baseball required.  Kids that couldn't match up with the league all-stars or play in travel ball eventually took up soccer.  The same thing is happening now, with lacrosse being the new soccer for fringe players.  

Around 10 years or so, a few softball programs in the southeast started to figure out that consolidating the best players allowed them to compete with CA talent.  They also figured how to better structure organizations to nurture development and training and get recruited.  That helped with getting the better talent in one location. As it continued to grow, those organizations were able to start acquiring the best (or better) players from surrounding states and even some from north and west. As the PGF formed, it was destined then that the quality CA teams would stay out west for the most part.  In order to see how you matched up and play at the highest level, it meant going west.  That allowed talent from the east and/or southeast to develop and gain confidence to be competitive with the west coast teams.  As that happened, more college coaches started taking note and developing relationships with the better organizations.  CCM was looking east way before he landed in the southeast.  He knew the more developed talent to choose from, the better it would be for college softball.  CCM even provided substantial advice to east coast organizations (spearheaded mostly by Corey who was coaching travel out west) to help gain traction to elevate the competition level and gain recruiting knowledge for the southern teams.  As the quantity (and quality) of girls in the southeast grew, they started showing up on SEC rosters.  With the sport gaining traction and visibility, it only fed the travel ball environment in the southeast and helped improve the overall talent along with more quality showcase events. That parlayed into more coaches eyes looking to the south as a viable option for quality players.  Occasionally, a sprinkle of the CA teams will come to the midwest and even to the south to play in the bigger events.  That speaks volumes to the improved quality and level of play.  Yes, the west coast will probably always have the edge given the shear numbers, ideal weather year around, and high school rules that allow both travel and high school play to co-exist.  But if you have a daughter or niece or cousin playing softball in the southeast, it is awesome that they came dream big (and real) about playing in the SEC and for a world series championship.

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On ‎1‎/‎24‎/‎2019 at 5:31 PM, around4ever said:

I haven't been involved with travel ball in 11 years since my daughter played her last 18U games.  Your numbers sound low, especially for Georgia.  

I thought the Thunderbolts had an 18 Gold team but it may just be a Class A team.  There is a White Lightning team and a Vipers team which would make three teams in Birmingham.  The Huntsville / Hartselle area always had at least two teams and Mobile / Baldwin County area always had two or more teams.  There was normally a team from the Auburn/Opelika/Russell County area.  Also the Dothan area normally had a team.  

But, there may not be enough interest to maintain all of those teams.  That's what prompted my last sentence in my original post. 

The Bolts, Vipers and Mustangs are the big teams in Birmingham with the Bolts being the biggest on the National level.

Huntsville has the Sparks Elite, Tuscaloosa has the Kraze.  I'm not sure of the bigger teams from South AL though.  Also there's a TN team (Comets) that pulls a lot of talent out of North AL.

Edited by AUatHeart
remembered the name of a team
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