View the 2017 Finalists
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Dirtbags | 12Major
KC Legends | 13AA
Lancers | 12AAA
Thunderbirds | 13A
12 & uNDER mAJOR | kansas city, mo | view team
The Dirtbags Baseball team (53-11) played in several USSSA tournaments in MO, KS. They ended their 75 game season at 65-10 winning their last 36 games in a row. They are currently ranked #1 under USSSA.
They have shown a lot of heart and hustle this season overcoming teammate injuries and battling back in tournaments. Over half of the team has played baseball for over 7 years together.
These boys work hard on and off the field during the season to make themselves as strong as possible and prepared for the next year.
They partake in the Big Brother/Big Sister program as well as the Challenger Program at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City which gives kids of all abilities the opportunity to play sports, learn to swim and try new things. The team is also responsible for maintaining every aspect of their practice facility.
13 & uNDER aa | Lenexa, KS | View Team
KC Legends has won several tournaments and ranked #1 in the state in 13AA after the 2017 season. (32-17)
The team is full of players with very high honors in school and they have done some community involvement, but this group of boys stands apart for a different reason. The team’s focus has always been to use baseball as a training tool for life. They parallel the hardships and victories with how to be in life. They keep the game in perspective and understand the importance of how they conduct themselves on the field translates to how they will conduct themselves in their lives.
Their focus this season (different every season) was on how to be a good teammate. It’s frequently talked about how the energy they bring to the game (both positive and negative) affects not only their play, but the play of their teammates. They talk about how what you say and how you say it affects the group as a whole. They talk about how what they think about themselves and the things they say to themselves (both negative and positive) not only makes a difference in their play, but also their lives. The game is looked at as a training ground to develop into the kind of siblings, fathers, and husbands they are and want to become.
This is how a group of boys who weren't able to win very many single A games, are now playing at the AAA level. It's how they’ve won 12 tournaments in the last year and 3 months. They also understand that what is important is not winning but that success is a natural consequence of them taking the above ideas and applying them. They have given up a lot in the realm of ego and personal goals to become the team and teammates they are today. The best part is they will take this experience and apply it in their lives and become better men.
13 & uNDER a | OVERLAND PARK, KS | view team
At the beginning of 2017, the Thunderbirds merged with players from 4 other teams to play at the next level. After just 2 tournaments in the fall, the Thunderbirds were ranked #1 in Division A.
In the Spring of 2017, some tournaments were played at AA, and others at A. The Team was moved up to play the State Tournament in the AA division and went on to play the Global World Series in the AA division. The Thunderbirds finished 2nd in the Global World Series. The Following week, the team finished their season with a 3rd place finish in the 13A World Series and had accumulated enough ranking points to start the season and finish the season ranked #1 in the country in 13A.
The Thunderbird's program focuses on the development of character. Coach McGuire believes that if as a program, they focus on the foundation of what makes a man "good" then he will become "able." Every season kicks off with the signing of the Thunderbird's Code of Ethics: Character, Integrity, Leadership, Accountability and Hustle. Each boy knows that when he becomes a Thunderbird he will become accountable to the Code of Ethics both on and off the field.
The game of baseball brings about incredible "teaching" moments for all athletes - and the Thunderbird program provides endless opportunities to teach these boys to become men of Character- accountable to both themselves and the baseball team they play with.
The team has an overall record of 23-22, is comprised of honor and high honor roll students who are involved in many outside activities in their local communities and high schools.
12 & Under AAA | Fairway, KS | view team
The Lancers came out swinging hard in the Spring of 2017, starting the season as a AA team and quickly moving up to AAA where they racked up an overall record of 49-13 and achievements of Kansas State AAA 12U Champions, being ranked #1 AAA 12U in KS and ranked #1 AAA 12U in the Nation at the close of their season.
Season highlights include a 15 game winning streak, amazing comeback victories, earning the KS AAA 12U State Championship title and taking runner up in the Global World Series.
The Lancers maintained a 15 game winning streak that lasted from May 26th to June 18th and drove in 131 runs over that time period, allowing only 48.
The team turned out a victory at the KC Sports Memorial Day Select30 Super NIT with a perfect 7-0 tournament record. During the AAA State Championship, the Lancers outscored the competition 82 to 10, and the Lancers took the State AAA 12U Championship undefeated.
The Lancers work hard and practice often- they are good sports win or lose. They respect their opponents and share a love for baseball. That hard work and love for the game shows itself through every victory and defeat. These boys lift each other up when heads are hanging low and celebrate teammates and their individual contributions. Every single player has stats and clutch plays that make them a valued and respected member of the team.
Diamond Club Aces | 10A
Kansas Crush | 12A
Kansas Renegades | 12B
Top Gun Acad - Turner | 14A
diamond club aces
10 & Under A | Kansas city, mo | view team
The 2016-2017 Diamond Club Aces were the definition of team first. This group played for each other and made personal sacrifices to be a part of this group.
Diamond Club Aces proved to be not only one of the top 10A teams in Kansas City, they were one of the top 10A teams in the Midwest. They won the 10A World Series, Swing for the Rings, and others. They started the season 18-0. Not being satisfied, they played 12U to challenge themselves.
The team rallied behind the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and was a large part of the planning of MSP’s JDRF tournament.
On the field, their success came from hard work, dedication, and recognizing that every role was important and necessary. They played with spirit and class. They always showed respect for opponents, opposing fans, and umpires.
12 & uNDER a | Della, KS | view team
Kansas Crush USSSA 12 A finished its season 68-15 with finishing 2nd in the USSSA Kansas State Tourney 12 A and Finishing 2nd in USSSA 12 A Nationals in Bentonville Arkansas. Kansas Crush not only represented Kansas and Missouri area well we took first in several tourny in Iowa, South Dakota,and a Top 5 finish in OKC Challenge.
The Girls work with various groups in their communities to help others. They participate in a lot of food drives for homeless which include the following:
Helping Hands Humane Shelter in Topeka
Topeka Rescue Mission
PTO Child Care
Lets Help of Topeka
All 10 girls maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout the year while being three-sport athletes.
12 & Under B | wichita, KS | view team
The KS Renegades were 2017 USSSA State Champions. They currently have the third highest USSSA 12U power ranking in the Nation. They’ve won a number of USSSA tournaments giving everyone a run for their money. These girls came together as a team and played as a team. They are all very respected for how they treat each other and other team players.
They continuously work at the local food bank, the team is full of honor roll students, and they are constantly doing team activities that promote encouragement, mental strength and all encompassing aspects.
Top Gun Academy - Turner
14 & uNDER a | Lee's Summit, MO | view team
Top Gun Academy - Turner was by far one of the youngest teams in the MW playing 14A, with over 80% of the roster made up of 7th graders.
The majority of the team has been together for more than 3 years and they have unbelievable chemistry. In USSSA play, they went 28-9 with two tournament championships. They won the Top Gun Qualifier, a tournament in which they defeated the #32 ranked team in the Flo Softball national rankings 3-0 behind great pitching and defense.
Flo Softball ranked this team as #60 in the national 14U rankings. They competed in several of the top tourneys in the country, including Top Gun Invite and the World Fastpitch Championships.
As a team, they posted a 3.8 GPA, and also supported the KC community with their work at The Harvesters. Additionally, they made blankets as a team for donation to Children's Mercy Hospital, and have donated some equipment and uniforms to a city youth program.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Prospects 11U | 11 & Under AAA
Bryson excels both on and off the field. He plays Select Baseball for the St. Louis Prospects (training and practicing year round when not in season). Bryson is not only an incredible pitcher but also one of the best catchers at his age level nationwide. He has been asked to sub for several other Select teams in our area helping those teams to win multiple tournaments as well.
Bryson also tried out for the USSSA All American Games this year and was taken as a Direct Selection to the Central-National Division Team and went on to participate in Orlando this Summer.
Aside from baseball, Bryson also plays rec. baseball for his hometown team and has helped them go on to win the District Championship. Bryson also participates in flag football and basketball with his local Catholic Church. Bryson also took up wrestling thru his school this past year and in 5 meetsn came home with 5 medals. This boy truly excels in every aspect of his life.
Bryson is not only an honor roll student, but he was also School Wide Greeter Leader (all new students shadow Bryson for a day to learn their way and make new friends). Among other thigns, he is a role model in all that he does and is absolutely deserving of all that he strives so hard to accomplish.
Diamond club nationals | 14 & Under AAA
As the Captain of Diamond Club Nationals, Sam has the work ethic of a champion. He makes everyone around him better through his hard work and never accepting less than his best. Behind the plate, he only allowed six passed balls in 59 games this year. He threw out 64% of runners stealing this season. He led the team in every offensive stat category, hitting over .600 with 7 HR's this year, none bigger than the game winner to take us to the Semi-Finals of the Global World Series in Gulf Shores. Baseball aside, he is a model citizen who spends his time mentoring younger kids and also umpires for Metro Umpires KC. He's a member of FCA and Young Life, as well as a three sport athlete at Park Hill High School.
“On the field and off, Sam is an MVP and deserves this award more than any kid I've coached in 16 years. He is a true champion.” – Robert Loran
BC KC Rawlings Prospects | 12 & Under Major
Easton has evolved into one of the team’s top leaders, not only in stats, but also in the dugout. The other players look up to him and he is always a great teammate. He is gracious in defeat and humble in victory. His work ethic on the field and during practice is well beyond his 13 years. He understands the “team” concept and is constantly striving to help his teammates get better.
Easton is an exceptional athlete and is on competitive teams in basketball, baseball and football. Although he is a great athlete, he is an even better person.
Easton volunteers his time helping out at baseball practices for his younger brother’s team on many occasions. He does not hesitate to help with whatever is asked of him during those practices.
Easton is willing to be a positive leader no matter who is watching, front row or back row, on the bench or on the field he is willing to do what he knows is right. That character spills over in encouragement to other team mates and class members. He is never too focused on himself to give another student a high five or some positive words. That kind of empathy is rare in a young man this age and speaks to the type of mature heart he has. Easton’s class, his work ethic, eager spirit, and servant heart raises the bar for the whole team, the whole class, and all others who interact with him.
He is a straight A student and just like on the baseball field, he is a leader in the classroom. He was hand-selected this year by his teachers as a 7th grader to meet all the incoming 6th grade students at his Middle School and show them around.
prodigy baseball academy | 12 & Under Major
At the 12U level he was one of the best shortstops on the field. He is an outstanding pitcher. He would be a top 3 hitter on any team. He is lightning fast. He plays the game the right way. Off the field he is a humble and respectful young man, and is very soft spoken. He is a great student, and gets very high marks in school. He is a great teammate. Always encouraging and cheering his team on whether it's on the field or off the field.
KC Peppers - Wallace | 18 & Under A
Taylor plays for KC Peppers Wallace and is a South Dakota State Univ commit. The pitcher and first baseman not only excels on her club team, but also holds 4 State Records in the KS Sports Hall-of-Fame (Career Wins, Career Strikeouts, Season Wins, Wins and No losses Season).
Taylor will graduate as the Valedictorian of Riverton High School this year. She is involved in Community Service and youth group in Baxter Springs, KS. She gives pitching lessons to area youth and is a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
sidekicks | 9 & Under
Kira has only played competitive softball for 2 years now. This season in her 1st year of 10U ball, Kira had a solid season. She batted .530 on the year and had 3 home runs (out of the park). The furthest being on a 185 foot fence. She is small in size and that makes her home runs even more surprising. Just a few weeks ago at the Monster Bash Kira hit her 6th home run in 10U ball. It was estimated at around 250ft.
On defense it was her first full year to pitch and she had 125 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched. On the season she threw 3 no-hitters. When she wasn't pitching, Kira stepped up as a utility player.
Kira also guest played in 5 tournaments giving her a total of 82 games played for the 2017 season. She played in the 10A/B division at the MO/KAN All-State Games and went 2 for 2 on the day a double and a triple along with 3 put-outs on defense and pitching a couple of innings giving up no runs.
Off the field, Kira spearheaded a fundraising effort for a classmate of hers that had a brain tumor. Her family's foundation raised more than $15,000 in 3 months for the little girl. Kira was a huge part of this effort. She was 9 when the campaign started. A model student in school and a model citizen in the community.
team kansas - grissom | 12 & Under B
Kiersten is a natural leader, fierce competitor, and one of the nicest young ladies you will ever meet. She strives to constantly improve her game while encouraging her teammates to do the same.
Kiersten’s primary position is 3rd base, however she understands team need and has set goals to learn and play shortstop and 1st base. When the team’s main catcher was out with injury, she stepped up and started working on being a backup catcher. She understands the her role and what comes first is the need of the team.
Kiersten's stats from 2017: 48 games played, 107 plate appearances, hit .369, with 10 doubles and 3 homeruns. She had 23 RBI's, and had 11 hit by pitches. Her fielding percentage was 86%. Kiersten tried out and played in the USA All-American Futures games on the Central National 12U team. She played 3rd, SS, and 1st in those games.
Kiersten and her team completed community service projects including: “Operation Give a Fireman a Cookie,” where they went to several fire stations handing out bags of cookies. They’ve also done bake sales and Thin Blue Line Band fundraisers for the family of Officer Brandon Collins, and sack lunch preparations for kids that need food over school breaks.
Outside of softball, Kiersten also competes in school and club volleyball, school and club basketball, and the school track team throwing the shot and discus. Kiersten is an honor roll student, plays the violin in the school orchestra, and has been chosen by her teachers to be a peer role model to other students.
diamond club diversity | 16 & Under B
Madison's led nearly every offensive category for Diamond Club Diversity 16U and has worked tirelessly to improve her defensive skills as the starting first baseman. Madi's God-given talents for the game of softball pale in comparison to the love and respect that she has for her teammates and opponents. She is a very smart athlete and is said by her coaching staff to be a blessing as an extension of the coaching staff on the field.
Prior to every practice and game she gathers her teammates in a circle and prays for their safety and performance as well as the safety & performance of their opponents. She is a mentor and ambassador to the younger players and to the new players added from season to season. Madi has started chat groups for her teammates, creating a safe place for her teammates to discuss real life issues that they all face, and she encourages her teammates to pray for one another and over their situations. Her love for people and her infectious spirit for serving has created a gathering spot for players/teammates.
In addition to her softball accomplishments, Madi is an excellent student and a member of Medical Leaders of Tomorrow at Liberty High School. Madi is currently in her junior year, and plans on attending a 6 year medical school program in preparation for a career as an orthopedic surgeon. With all that she has going on she has not forgotten that she is blessed to be a blessing. She is an active member of Compel (a Teen Youth Group) at her church, The Rock of KC, and she volunteers as a counselor for Rock Kids Camps.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Kc kings | Multiple teams
Chris exemplifies hard work and dedication endlessly. His kids have developed character and understand despite circumstances, they can be successful.
Mr. Evans started a baseball program a few years ago to get young men together in the summer to learn and love the game. The goal was to just give them something productive to do, while continuously teaching life lessons. What started as sign-ups for a rec team soon became a competitive 11U program that competitively competes across both Missouri and Kansas, but the focus stayed the same - school and community are of utmost importance.
Despite losing some upper level players to other area teams, he continues to field 80+ families from 5U to 11U (and growing), focused on the fact that life is a lot more than baseball.
Mr. Evans is a small business owner and personally coaches 3+ teams. He continuously carries lessons from his own experiences to his athletes in hopes that they too can apply them in their own lives and to their own creative outlets.
ybc 13 BlacK
Stan started coaching at 22 years old when a friend of his received an internship opportunity at a youth sports organization. Stan immediately volunteered to coach.
“Baseball, for me growing up, was an escape from an abusive home life. I can remember vividly the feeling of relief and weight off my shoulder when I crossed the white lines. I had coaches I felt loved me and cared about me, and when I crossed the white line onto the field, everything felt better and life was good. There were at least two boys on my first team who needed exactly what I did growing up. It was an incredibly fulfilling experience for me to share my own “white line” story with them and you could see it hit home with them. I was hooked on coaching and working with youth in any way I could.” - Stan Ferguson
After Stan and his wife purchased their first home in a rough neighborhood, Stan took it upon himself to actively change the lives of the kids around him. The next season he provided his own team (rather than had a team provided by the association), made up of these neighborhood kids. When the “per player” cost and equipment quickly became an issue for these boys, Stan did all he could, utilizing himself and his own resources to make it work. He tied playing time to grades and behavioral success, and it made a world of difference. Stan worked them hard. He was even harder on them, but they knew he loved them and cared about them and did so because of it.
In 2008, Stan was simultaneously coaching a very competitive fastpitch team, FCS Angels, when his son became old enough to play baseball. All it took was one season of watching serious “Daddy Ball” baseball before the FCS Warriors were back with a new head coach - Stan Ferguson. What started out as a 9AA team, quickly worked up an undefeated 11AAA season and eventual reclassification to 11 Major. After their 12u season, he and the boys joined the YBC organization. The facilities and extra coaching was exactly what allowed the boys to be able to continue to grow and develop.
At the end of the boys’ 13U season, Stan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Cancer. The Cancer had spread to his lungs, liver, clavicle, lymph nodes and femur. Stan had a long standing track record of never missing a tournament, and this news wouldn’t change that. Despite what the doctors said, he was still there every weekend coaching those boys. Last July, Stan’s femur snapped, and the injury resulted in a hip replacement.
For the first time in over 25 years, Stan missed a tournament while he was in the hospital recovering. Despite his struggling, his boys had his back. After the championship game, they ALL showed up at the hospital with their gold rings (one for Stan, too), and their “Stan Strong” shirts. Stan spent the rest of the season coaching from his wheelchair.
He will take next season off from coaching to focus on his health. “I’ve had good reports that his clinical trial treatment is working and I have no doubt God is going to provide me a second chance. I will be back to coaching.” - Stan
mudcat baseball | 12 & Under AAA
Bubba Prewitt - Mudcats Baseball
Mr. Prewitt is remarkable to his players and parents on and off the field. He is patient and respectful in coaching. Always helping the players have a better understanding of the game and position they may be playing.
Bubba’s team is comprised of loyal players - some of which have grown up with him from T-Ball.
Bubba has simultaneously coached his older son’s competitive team while still coaching an additional Mudcats team. He balances his time between both teams and is dedicated to molding his athletes into baseball players.
Bubba is very knowledgeable of the game of baseball and knows how to teach it. He uses every practice, game and play as teachable moments. Many times in game situations Bubba can be heard and seen praising the opposing team’s players for great catches/plays, or giving “helmet taps and fist knocks” to their players.
Bubba also teaches his boys there is more to the game than winning. He is not a coach/manager for fame and fortune, out to rack up tournament wins. He is in this to teach the boys a love of the game and how to play it correctly. He wants to be sure that when they walk out onto their high school field or play for other teams, their future coaches know they were taught the mechanics of the game correctly. He teaches them attitude and appearance are just as important as skills. He teaches them to be courteous to umpires, opposing team’s coaches and players, no matter what the situation. He teaches them that hats are to be worn correctly on the field (bill facing forward) and having a belt matters.
Bubba teaches his boys, as they grow, to also understand there is more to life than baseball. The team always prays on Sunday before games, does fundraising and donates their time for charity. The boys always looks forward to the time together outside the field because that means most likely they are doing something to help someone else.
As a coach/manager, Bubba always keeps those on the other side of the dugout informed. He is a very hands on coach with players and their families. He strives to put together a team that works well together on and off the field. He has a group of parents who back him up at every step of the way, and a road which goes both ways.
Bubba is completely engaged with these boys and coaches. He is a teacher, a leader, a father figure and friend to all involved with him. He is the concrete that keeps these boys and coaches all together on the same page.
Jessica Beal / Doug Cline
Jessica Beal / Doug Cline
Central Elite | 10 & Under B
Kansas Central Elite Team manager Jessica Beal is a highly respected member of the Wichita Fastpitch Softball Community. Ms Beal takes care of all the little details to make the experience enjoyable for players, parents, and coaches. Jessica ensures readiness for each game by consulting with the coaching staff and preparing lineups, making recommendations about player development, orders and inventories all of the practice/game equipment and uniforms, schedules tournaments and scrimmages with other area teams, coordinates with hotels to provide families with the most competitive group discount rate possible, and takes primary responsibility for coordinating our many, many, fundraisers and sponsors. Other duties include keeping keeps parents and players up to date on practice/game schedules, due dates, and promotes a high degree of communication which is appreciated by all. Jessica’s organizational and communication skills are second to none.
Aside from her commitments to women athletics Jessica stays active in her community as a volunteer and is always the first person to offer help to those who are in need.
Jessica Beal is not only an effective team manager, she is an outstanding role model for young women. According to Central Elite Head Coach Doug Cline, “Jessica is anything but average. She goes above and beyond our expectations and takes responsibility for an enormous amount of tasks which allows me and my coaching staff to focus on our players. She continuously reinforces team principles and is a great mentor for our girls. We would be lost without her.”
Coach Cline is the perfect example of an excellent role model. He devotes his time to "his girls,” and does so 100% voluntarily. This man is at every practice and every game for the love of fastpitch softball and his girls. He’s constantly willing to work one on one with all of his athletes at the drop of a hat. He has sacrificed a great deal of his time with his real family in order to put his heart and soul into this team. Every girl on his team is his child and he tells them that every day. If you ask any Central Elite athlete how they feel about Doug or why they enjoy playing for Doug, they will tell you "because he believes in me and our team."
When Doug walks onto the field with his team, he always shows great sportsmanship and heart for the game. He takes the time to pray with the girls before and after every game, showing them that they should be thankful every day. He has very high hopes and expectations for each one of his girls as being “just average” is never an option. Doug pushes his girls to not only be the best athletes, but the best daughters, sisters, nieces, etc. they can be.
This team was started by Doug in August 2017 and finished their season ranked #1 in the state of Kansas and #6 in the Nation!
G2 heat | multiple teams
Anthony has had an enormous impact on the lives and games of the girls not only on his team, but the entire organization. He goes above and beyond for each player.
He not only teaches the rules of the game, but how to be respectful and successful young ladies off the field. He puts in countless hours at the facility and on the field helping girls with pitching, catching, hitting, and fielding, while providing free private lessons when anyone is needing a little extra help.
Anthony also dedicates his time to training the girls in the weight room, helping to make them all stronger and more agile in order to improve their game and be the best they can be.
Kansas Renegades | 12 & Under B
Bobbie is said to be one of the most respected coaches in KS by opposing teams. She is always very giving and polite to the umpires and other coaches, and is always encouraging her girls to give 110% at everything they do.
Bobbie puts her whole heart into coaching her girls. She always hustles, always stays positive, and expects the girls to lift one another up. She has been praised for how the girls know the fundamentals of softball and always provides opportunities for them to grow.
She coaches her girls with an approach that is firm, as all young girls need, but direct and encouraging. She coaches them on offense and on defense during every pitch, not just when the game is close or they are winning. She congratulates a struggling player on the smallest of victories to boost their confidence while challenging her more competitive athletes with difficult skills. She commands respect on the diamond. She always knows the rules and she makes sure her athletes know them, too. Her dedication every weekend is without fail.
Bobbie connects with each of the girls and spends countless hours working with her team and finding extra opportunities to help educate and train those who want them.
Bobbie played for the Durham Dragons in the inaugural 1997 Women's Professional Fastpitch (WPF) league. Because of this she is able to help the girls mentally to understand what it takes to play at that level. Her love for the game and for the girls is unmatched and uncompromised by a winner or loss.
tHUNDERBIRDS | 13 & Under a
Early in the fall of 2017, it was observed that Daniel’s speed on the base path and length of stride on the mound had decreased since the 2016 season. Shortly after he was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlaters Disease. This is a result of growing faster than your body’s joints, ligaments, and supportive tissues can keep up with. The method to deal with this is to do extended periods of stretching before exercising. Daniel worked very hard with a physical therapist over the winter of 2016 and 2017 to get his range of motion back.
Daniel would spend hours stretching before and after practices and games. Over the course of the season Daniel's hard work paid off, he had a .389 batting average with 9 doubles and 13 stolen bases in the AA and A leagues and tournaments. Daniel threw 637 pitches in 36.2 innings and 18 games. He had 36 strikeouts and a WHIP of 2.1. Daniel worked tirelessly to perfect his game and puts in an additional 4 hours of work each week in addition to practice.
kANSAS cITY sTINGRAYS | 14 & uNDER b
In mid-February 2017, Sofi Loveland was walking to her car after practice when she suddenly couldn’t take another step on her left leg. The pain was too great. As catcher, she had always experienced aches in her knees, but this was different. She couldn’t move. After inconclusive X-rays she finally had an MRI at Children’s Mercy Hospital where doctors diagnosed her with Osteochondritis Dissecans, a condition where lack of blood flow causes the end of the knee to dissolve and slowly break off in chunks.
Doctors varied on her prognosis. Some outlooks said she could be back to softball in a year, others said she may not be able to play again. It depended on severity of the condition, which they could not fully assess until surgery. A few weeks later, Sofi had surgery and they stabilized her knee using dissolving pins, and did not require any other hardware. Still, her prognosis was unclear. If the bone did not heal, a second more intrusive procedure would be necessary to install hardware to stabilize the knee.
While healing, Sofi traded her catcher’s bag for a bucket with a padded seat; her glove for a scorebook; and her bat for a pencil. She went from being one of the best hitters on our team to our scorekeeper, and our biggest fan. She was at every game, and most every practice – not because she had to be there, but because she chose to be there. If she shed a tear or had a blue moment about not being on the field, her teammates did not see it. Although she was devastated she had lost her summer, she didn’t let her frustrations affect her public face or her teammates. She was a model of strength. As she began the long road back she attacked her rehab with a vengeance. Slowly, she walked and the crutches went away. Then, doctors reported that the surgery had been successful and another procedure to install hardware would not be necessary. She could play again someday.
So she continued to work. Bit by bit, she began throwing, catching, and eventually running. Finally, in late July, she was cleared to play. Having been faced with a condition that could possibly eliminate her from the sport she loved just a few
months earlier, she got to bat at the USSSA 14B Nationals in Bentonville, Arkansas. Although she did not get on base, her at bat was a great success as it symbolized all that she had been through, all that she had overcome, and all that she did to get to that at bat, which doctors were unsure she would ever do again. Today, Sofi has rejoined her team as a regular in the line-up and is a key part of the KC Stingrays team.
“I remain amazed when I see her play not only at what she did to get back to this point, but more so how she did it. If the ultimate measure of someone is how he or she handle adversity, then Sofi Loveland should be measure
we all strive to achieve.” - Jay Heidrick
kc wOLVES | 16 & Under B
There are many players like Mickey out there - great athletes dedicated to their teams. Mickey though has faced hardships unlike any other.
In late 2016, her home was destroyed by 2 floods that pushed into Excelsior Springs, MO. The home she grew up in was completely destroyed. Despite Mickey and her family’s displacement and the confined living quarters (basement of a family member’s house) for the 5 of them, Mickey never let her love of the game falter. Shortly after, in the midst of all she was already facing, she started having health problems. Mickey would have horrible headaches, fainting spells, and an irregular heart rate. Through all the MRI’s, EKG’s and ER visits, she was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a condition which causes a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate when standing up. Mickey doesn’t let that stop her from playing; she has learned to manage it and competes happily without any complaints (as long as her body allows for it).
As a Captain, she supports her team during practices, games, and team sanctioned events. She has never missed a practice, game or team event on account of her health or hard times. In fact, many times she was found staying after to help a teammate better her own skills. She was always the one to give a caring, helpful, respectful, teaching hand to any player that needed it. During her games she would often times be seen and heard encouraging the other team’s players as well as her own.
Mickey has never let any hard times stop her and has pushed herself more every time her team needed her. Her encouragement of her team as well as the players on opposing teams shows others how to be a great player, to always push yourself, and be there for every player no matter the team.
Mickey is a full time softball player, a lover of the game, and is taking a full course load of AP classes while not letting her grades fall.
DEMONS FASTPITCH | 14 & uNDER a
Over the past two and half years, Ella Teno has played softball to survive while battling and beating Hodgkin’s Lymphoma three times. Ella has undergone a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy three times. She has been a symbol of strength and inspiration, returning to softball each time she’s been in remission with the team success as her first concern.
Ella has united her team through adversity and inspired a community to be “Ella Strong.” Her positivity and winning personality is apparent every day as she takes on the greatest fight of her life.
On January 3, 2017, PET scans showed Ella was cancer free and from there she began a year of maintenance chemo. On April 26, Ella fractured her tibia and she continued to be resilient through her recovery. Currently, Ella is undergoing maintenance chemo and she will be released for softball once she rebuilds bone density. She is anxious to not only support her softball family from the dugout, but also on the
field, catching for Demons Fastpitch.
Watch Ella’s Story:
BB - Mudcats Baseball 13s
BB - Mustangs Baseball 12s
FP - Heat FP Academy 18s
FP - 3N2 Force 16s
13 & Under
The boys are taught, as they grow, to understand there is more to life than baseball. The team always prays on Sunday before games, does fundraising and donates their time for charity. The boys always looks forward to the time together outside the field because that means most likely they are doing something to help someone else.
For the last 7 years, the Mudcats have made it a priority to fundraise for Breast Cancer Awareness and the Stephanie Vest Foundation (the foundation offers financial and emotional support to parents facing a cancer crisis). Over $10,000 has been raised to date. Proceeds from the fundraising benefit Kansas City metro cancer patients and their families. They donate their time at the annual “Pink Laundry 5K Run,” by handing out water and medals to the runners. During baseball tournaments, the Mudcats wear pink jersey to raise awareness and fundraise by approaching people and describing their mission to help anyone batting Breast Cancer. Their coach, Bubba Prewitt, has cultivated an environment of competitiveness on the field and community support off the field.
12 & uNDER
Mustangs player, Jake Skahan, has a younger brother named Mason who was diagnosed with Pitt Hopkins, a genetic disorder affecting a specific gene in chromosome 18 that is characterized by developmental delays.
Three years ago, their father Matt created a baseball opportunity for those with disabilities who were unable to play in regular recreation leagues. The "Iola Angels” started with 10 players that ranged from age 5-40 years old. They played one Saturday a month in the spring and fall seasons and asked for volunteers to partner with them and be their "buddy" on the field. Over the course of 3 years, the Iola Angels has over 20 players show up each Saturday, which has added demand for "buddies.”
Last year, the Mustang Baseball Club partnered with the Iola Angels. Every weekend between 5-8 of the Mustangs help Angels in wheelchairs maneuver around the base paths, field ground balls and find the base to throw the ball to. What’s more important though, is that they’re just there with them on the field and in the dugout talking about baseball.
HEAT FASTPITCH ACADEMY
18 & Under
Heat Fastpitch Academy’s philosophy is, “We Over Me.”
Their Community involvement includes:
Cleaning up and painting at the Harvey County Homeless Shelter
Organizing food drives to donate food to the Harvey County Food Bank
Picking families in need and shopping for Christmas presents for the entire family
Making cookies and handing them out to the nursing home in Wichita, Kansas during the holidays
Making and handing out Christmas Cards for Newton and Hesston nursing homes.
Handing out water to runners at the Breast Cancer fundraiser run in Hesston, Kansas
Raised money by selling t-shirts to support a team members father who was diagnosed with terminal cancer
Organizing two area wide donation drives for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Sending care packages to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan during the holidays.
16 & uNDER
3N2 Force 16U dedicates their season each year to Stop Bullying, wearing jerseys to honor the memory of two girls who took their own lives as a result of bullying. Additionally, the girls distribute #iambethany wristbands to opponents after games.
Most recently, they’ve raised $4,000 for their upcoming season, but instead of using that money for tournaments they spent it on an anti-bullying rally for Bethany. They flew her mom in and brought in a national speaker from New York. The rally drew almost 75 teenage girls to raise awareness of teenage bullying and its effects. 3N2 also brought an Omaha victim, out to Kansas City to spend a tournament with them as a special guest.
Additionally, they’ve put together an outreach program in which they mail personal letters to victims anywhere in the country. In the past, they’ve taken many local young ladies under their wings who have been bullied. When Force heard about bully victim Mallory Grossman, who committed suicide at the age of 12, the girls reached out to her mom who just recently traveled from New Jersey to Kansas to watch them play at the 2017 Fall Brawl in honor of Mallory.
Below are links to news stories on the team’s Anti-Bullying campaigns: