Author Archives: Matt Lund

Five Questions With Softball Factory National Showcase and Tournament Director, Ty Rietkovich

As we wrap 2018, we would like to take time to congratulate Softball Factory’s National Showcase and Tournament Director, Ty Rietkovich on recently celebrating five years of the Under Armour Softball Factory National Showcase! For the last five years, the showcase series has helped provide elite travel softball teams from around the country with the opportunity to receive maximum exposure to college recruiters.

We recently spoke with Ty to learn more about the history of the series, coming aboard with Softball Factory and the future of the events.

Softball Factory: Our Showcase Series has a long history that predates the Factory. How did the series get started and how did the series come to Softball Factory?

Ty Rietkovich: In 2006, I started the Southern Star Softball Showcases in Savannah, Georgia as an alternative to some of the exclusive events that were being run at that time. I wanted a place for any team to come and play in front of college coaches. With the help of several local college coaches, we launched the events with a lot of success. Later we expanded to Clermont, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.

In 2013, Factory Athletics added these events and myself to the Softball division as a way of enhancing the recruiting aspect, in addition to building its brand in the travel softball world.

Our main purpose was (and is) to increase the number of players brought in to the Factory for potential involvement in other areas such as the Under Armour National Tryout Tour, the College PREP program, and Player Development events as well as increase awareness of the recruiting help we can provide a student-athlete.

SF: With the partnership in 2013, there has been significant growth in the showcase series to get more teams involved and more players in front of college recruiters. Tell us about that.

TR: In 2013 and 2014, we ran a total of three events, hosted 126 teams and approximately 1,386 players. Just three years later, we ran 13 events, hosted 363 teams and approximately 4,004 players. Of those, almost 1,000 of them were written up on our blog and identified as potential college players.

In 2019 we will run 15 events including one of the most prestigious USA Softball events, the Futures Cup in July.

SF: Why is the Softball Factory Showcase Series considered one of the best events in the country?

TR: Our Softball Factory National Showcases are the only events in the country where every player on every team is guaranteed to be seen by a college coach. Our Recruiting Blog is filled with comments directly from college softball coaches and the only one on the market. We are the only showcase with notes on the top players for them to share and for other college coaches to see what they might have missed. We say these are the only events with residual value for the players once they leave and go home.

SF: What is the importance for athletes who participate in these events?

TR: We run controlled events with all fields in a close proximity that allows for every coach and every player to be easily seen. We place college coaches on every field to watch the athletes and notate the top players. In this world of “BIG BOX” showcases that take unlimited teams and place them on fields miles and sometimes, even hours apart, all our athletes know they can and will be seen by college coaches who are present, and they won’t be stuck on the “bad” or “far away” fields.

SF: Where do you see the showcase series going in the future?

TR: Within the next five years, we hope to expand our footprint into some areas of the country we aren’t currently in, such as the Northeast, West Texas, and add an additional West Coast event. As well, we plan in 2019 to implement a testing program to gather measurable strengths and skills of our players and make that information readily available for college recruiters. We are working on plans to implement clinics in conjunction with our event that players could attend and receive instruction from top college coaches.

Our goal is within five years to again double the amount of athletes we are introducing to the Softball Factory and the opportunities we possess through our company.

To view the 2019 schedule for the Under Armour Softball Factory National Showcase & Tournament Series, please visit: http://www.softballfactory.com/showcases/ to learn more!

In The Circle – Leadership and Injury

(Article written by Softball Factory Player Development Coordinator, Jane LukasFrom an early age, my athletic career was centered around my role as a leader. I played a multitude of different sports, whether I was on the track, on the field, or on the court, I was able to lead by example. My approach was very simple; if I work hard, I will see the results I want.

That mentality gave me the ability to play consistently well, and this consistency is what allowed me to be successful. I carried this mindset through with me until college, where I played Division I Volleyball at Loyola University Maryland. I knew I was going to be voted captain my junior year and I didn’t plan on changing anything in terms of the way I played or talked to my teammates. However, an athlete’s performance on the court is only one small aspect of what it takes to be an effective captain. I learned this through experience during that junior season, after I injured my knee three days into pre-season.

I have played sports since I was in 3rd grade and went 12 years without an injury. Not a missed season, or even a week off. But, in my junior year, when I’m in the best shape of my life, playing the best volleyball I have ever played, I find out I’m going to miss most of the season.

Sitting in the doctor’s office after a month of unsuccessful rehab, learning I was going to need surgery and would miss another six weeks, was the most discouraging moment of my college career. I felt like I had lost any value that I added to the program. If I couldn’t provide them with results on the court, what could I do? And how could I expect anyone to listen to what I had to say if I wasn’t out there playing?

To my surprise, my team still voted me captain, and for the first time, I didn’t think that I was going to be able to provide them the leadership that they needed.

I was extremely pessimistic about the situation. Without knowing it, I was allowing my attitude to negatively effect my team. I had a one-on-one meeting with my coach who basically said “Jane, they voted you captain knowing you were going to be out for a while. Even though you aren’t playing, they still need you to do your job.”

There were some tears, and some more words exchanged, but I walked out knowing that I needed to change my attitude. From then on, I did everything I could to make myself an asset to my team. I completely embraced any role or responsibility I had. I took stats on the sidelines and I made sure that if you weren’t on the court you were cheering. I realized how important the bench is. The girls on the court need them to create energy and I genuinely felt like I was making a difference.

I worked with the other outside hitters on things that I noticed and gave them as much feedback as I could. I even made sure everyone had water, their cups were full, and people had what they needed so they could be their best. The more I embraced these small tasks the more value I gave myself, and my team needed me again. Injuries, adversity, or any setbacks can be extremely discouraging, but it doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. There are so many ways that you can help your team improve, being on the court or field during games is just one part.

I took my rehab very seriously and was playing again by the end of the season. Now that I am a couple years removed, I’m grateful that this is something I went through. It made me a better leader, it showed me how important having a positive mindset is, and it allows me to relate better to the athletes I work with today.

It also showed me that throughout life, no matter what you’re doing, you create your own value. It all comes down to attitude. If you do your absolute best at whatever task you decide to embrace, you’ll walk away feeling satisfied of your results.

Adversity is common and getting discouraged is easy. There are a lot of aspects within sports that are out of your control. One area that is completely determined by you is your attitude and mindset. Choosing to influence your teammates positively and finding ways to relate positively to your environment is something leaders do every day.

Six Softball Factory Alums Named 2017-2018 Gatorade State Softball Players of the Year

This week, Gatorade announced the winners of the 2017-18 Gatorade State Softball Players of the Year and Softball Factory is proud to announce that six former athletes were recognized as the best player in the state they reside in.

We congratulate all 49 winners this year and especially to our Softball Factory alums who have received this honor.

The six Softball Factory athletes are:

Hallie Wacaser – SS/RHP – Arkansas

Wacaser is a sophomore at Bentonville HS hit .485 with 10 home runs, 42 RBI, 14 steals, a .548 on-base percentage and slugged .970 to help lead her team to the Arkansas Class 7A State Championship Game. In the circle, she finished 3-0 with a 3.36 ERA and 20 strikeouts.

Hallie participated in the 2015 Under Armour Softball Factory Southwest Championships.

Nicole Marcon – C/1B – Delaware

Marcon is a junior at Caravel Academy in Bear, DE and put together a fine season for the Buccaneers this past season. She hit .520 with eight homers, 25 RBI and a slugging percentage of 1.140.

Nicole played in the 2014 Under Armour Softball Factory Fall Classic Showcase.

Ashley Prange – SS – Indiana

Prange played short stop for New Palestine High School in New Palestine, IN and dominated with the bat, hitting .591 with 16 homers, 64 RBI. Prange is Indiana’s state single-season record-holder for home runs and she is a First Team All-State selection.

Softball Factory scouts and coaches first saw Ashley at an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Bloomington, IN in June of 2013 and six months later, was part of Softball Factory’s Christmas Camp & Tournament in Vero Beach, FL at Historic Dodgertown.

Campbell Kline

Campbell Kline – SS – Maryland

Kline is a junior short stop from Severna Park High School in Severna Park, MD. Part of the Falcons Class 4A State Championship team, Kline was a big reason the team won it all. She hit .750 with 12 doubles, six triples, eight home runs, 53 runs scored, 39 RBI and a 1.272 slugging percentage.

She’s been breaking state records along the way, as she had a Maryland record of 69 hits with 24 multi-hit games, and her 148 career hits is just 18 shy of the state record. She’ll get her shot to do so next year, where she will carry a 32-game hitting streak into her senior season.

Campbell attended an Under Armour Softball Factory College PREP event in Glen Arm, MD back in March of 2016.

Abby Rochette

Abby Rochette –  RHP/OF – New Hampshire

Abby is a junior at Concord High School in Concord, NH. Rochette put together an excellent season inside the circle, going 12-1 with a 0.92 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings. She pitched 10 complete games and tossed three no-hitters on the season. Rochette also hit .403  with 23 runs scored for the Crimson Tide.

Rochette got her start at an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout event in Wilmington, DE in July of 2016.

Riley Magoon

Riley Magoon – RHP/1B – Vermont

Magoon is a senior at Colchester HS in Vermont and went 8-1 in the circle this past season with a 0.96 ERA. She struck out 109 hitters to just nine walks in 51 innings. She also hit .719 with six home runs and 49 RBI in 16 games. Riley is also a three-time First Team All-Metro League selection.

Magoon attended the same event as Rochette back in July of 2016, getting her start at an Under Armour Softball Factory College PREP event in Delaware.

The Gatorade State Player of the Year award was established in 1985 to recognize the nation’s most outstanding high school student-athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.

121 Softball Factory Alums On Rosters of 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series Teams

The field of 64 is set for this year’s NCAA Division I Championship with the University of Oregon earning top billing as the No.1 overall seed in this year’s tournament. Oregon has been a tough team this season, going 14-5 against seeded opponents.

For the second straight year, the Southeastern Conference led all leagues with 13 teams selected to the tournament. According to the NCAA website, four teams are making their first appearance in the tournament: Boise State University, Kennesaw State University, Monmouth University, and Prairie View A&M University.

This year, 53 of the 64 teams entered into the 2018 NCAA Division I Softball Championship tournament have at least one Softball Factory alumnae on a roster. In total, 121 players who have participated in at least one Softball Factory event are on the rosters of teams looking for the opportunity to be called champion. Prairie View leads the way with six alums while Harvard University, McNeese State and Jacksonville State each have five alums on their rosters.

Below is a list of alums who are on rosters of teams selected for this year’s tournament.

Oregon: Lauren Burke, Mia Camuso, Shaye Bowden, Cherish Burks

Albany (NY): Alexis Phillips

BYU: Morgan Bevell, Briielle Breland, Libby Sugg

Drake: Libby Ryan

Michigan: Meghan Beaubien, Katie Alexander, Natalia Rodriguez

Notre Dame: Alexis Bazos, Melissa Rochford

South Carolina: Alex Fulmer

UNCG: Breanna Butcher, Stephanie Bryden, Kayleigh Willis

Liberty: Cassidy Young

Hofstra: Kimberly Wert, Sarah Cornell

Ole Miss: Bry Castro, Abbey Latham, Amanda Roth, Ava Tillman

Arizona State: Jade Gortarez

Washington: Morganne Flores

Boise State: Carlie Brandt, Allie Arneson

Texas: Janae Jefferson

Minnesota: Madison Anthony, Rebekah Cervantes, Morgan Lamb

Oregon State: Jessica Garcia, Shelby Weeks, Fallon Molnar

Wisconsin: Taylor Johnson

Alabama: Elissa Brown

Arkansas: Keely Edwards, Jada Dotson, Aly Manzo

DePaul: Morgan Greenwood, Pat Moore

Wichita State: Madison Perrigan, Bailey Lange, Mckenzie Weber

Oklahoma State: Emily Clark, Regan Wilkins, Logan Simunek

Missouri: Eli Daniel

Oklahoma: Jocelyn Alo, Lea Wodach

UCLA: Rachel Garcia, Bubba Nickles

Arizona: Ivy Davis, Taylor McQuillin, Alyssa Denham, Alyssa Palomino

Louisiana-Lafayette: Kynadi Tipler, Casey Dixon, Teryn Pritchett

Auburn: Taylon Snow

Florida State: Elizabeth Mason, Madison Kennedy

Georgia: Tiffani Railey, Jessica Morgan, Madison McPherson

Tennessee: Meghan Gregg

Texas A&M: Keeli Milligan

Baylor: Gia Rodoni, Ashley Marchand

Florida: Amanda Lorenz, Nicole DeWitt, Kelly Barnhill, Natalie Lugo

Ohio: Madi McCrady

Harvard: Aubree Muse, Maddy Kaplan, Olivia Giaquinto, Nicki Nishizawa, Elizabeth Shively

Northwestern: Maegan Hollins

California: Kamalani Dung

Prairie View: Alyssa Garcia, Shelby Williams, Kimberly Hernandez, Alexis Freeman, Daneisha Hinton, Taylor Drury

McNeese State: Demi Boudreaux, Toni Perrin, Erika Piancastelli, Brenique Wright, Alexandria Saldivar

Ohio State: Nicole Carver

South Florida: Madison Epperson, Georgina Corrick

Bethune-Cookman: Maiya Fudge, Mara Brody

Kennesaw State: Meredith Milam, Kira Czyrklis, Hannah Thomason, Maddie Roth

Jacksonville State: Taylor Beshears, Jada Terry, Kirsten Titus, Ryann Luna, Lex Hull

Fordham: Kelly Bright

Sacramento State: Jessica Scott, Suzy Brookshire, Marissa Maligad

Texas State: Randi Rupp, Sara Rupp

Mississippi State: Maddie Dorsett

North Dakota State: Kara O’Byrne

Saint Francis (PA): Tayven Rousseau

James Madison: Cambry Arnold, Payton Buresch, Michelle Sullivan, Debbie Stuart

Softball Factory Alumni Notebook (Week of 3/26/18)

Each week in the Alumni Notebook, we highlight Softball Factory alums who are performing well at all levels of college softball.

Division I

Meghan Beaubien

Meghan Beaubien – The University of Michigan freshman snagged Pitcher and Co-Freshman of the Week honors for the second consecutive time after she went 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA last week, allowing just two hits with 25 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings of work. In the series opener against Purdue, she tossed her second no-hitter of the season. For the season Beaubien is 20-2 with an 0.78 ERA and 151 strikeouts for the Wolverines, who are 28-7 on the season. Meghan attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Waterford Township, MI in 2016.

Division II

Jackie Najera – (Chaminade University – Pacwest Conference) – Najera collected 19 hits during the week of March 19th as the Silverswords won four games, including a 9-2 victory over No. 13 Sonoma State. For the season to date, Najera leads the team in hitting with a .360 average to go along with 18 doubles, one home run and 23 RBI. The freshman infielder from Santa Ana, CA, attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Orange, CA in 2015.

Haley Drakoulakos – (Assumption University) Drakoulakos, a freshman second baseman for the Greyhounds, was named to the Hitting Honor Roll in the Northeast10 Conference as the team went 3-0 last weekend and Haley paced the offense, collecting three doubles, three RBI and three runs scored. Assumption is currently 8-5 overall. Haley attended a UA SF National Tryout in Medfield, MA back in 2013.

Kylie Stonebraker – (University of New Haven) – Stonebraker was an Honorable Mention for her pitching performance last week in the Northeast10, pitching 12 2/3 innings, allowing five hits overall for the week. She recorded a five-inning shutout against Saint Rose, tying a career-high in strikeouts with 10. Her next start, she pitched 7 2/3 with seven strikeouts. Kylie attended the 2015 UA Softball Factory Eastern Classic.

Payton Lippert – (Shorter University) – Lippert, a junior pitcher, was named Pitcher of the Week in the Gulf South Conference, winning both of her starts against No. 22 Alabama Huntsville last week, allowing only two earned runs on 11 hits with seven strikeouts. For the season, Payton is 8-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 18 appearances (11 starts). She attended a UA SF National Tryout in Jackson, MS in 2014.

Division III

Theresa Gonzales

Theresa Gonzales – Gonzales, a junior IF at UT-Tyler, was named Hitter of the Week in the American Southwest Conference, going 9-for-15 (.600) during the week with six doubles, a home run, 11 RBI and six runs scored. Gonzales attended a UA SF National Tryout in Georgetown, TX in 2013 and was a participant in the 2014 Softball Factory All-America Pre-Season Tournament.

Tori Wilkins – Wilkins is a junior OF at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD and earned Player of the Week honors in the Centennial Conference, hitting .533 for the week with a home run, eight RBI and a stolen base as the Green Terror got off to a 3-1 start in conference play. Tori, a graduate of Land O’ Lakes HS in Lutz, FL, attended the 2014 UA Softball Factory Summer Showcase.

Kaitlyn Willis – Willis, a senior pitcher at Ursinus, also in the Centennial Conference, took home Pitcher of the Week honors, allowing just one earned run in 20.0 IP, striking out 22 and walking just six. The Perryville, MD native leads the conference in strikeouts with 63, while ranking second in ERA (1.11). She attended one of the first UA SF National Tryouts, in Baltimore, MD, back in 2011.

Softball Factory Alumni Notebook (Week of 3/19/18)

Each week in the Alumni Notebook, we highlight Softball Factory alums who are performing well at all levels of college softball.

Division I

Jordan Cargile

Dasha Hill – Hill, a junior at Hampton University, was named MEAC Player of the Week (for the week ending March 4) and during a six-game stretch, went 12-for-22 with seven runs scored. She had a pair of three-hit games against the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore during that stretch and currently leads the nation in stolen bases with 30. Her .487 average is also good for ninth in the country in Division I softball. The Williamsburg, VA native attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Glen Allen, VA back in 2014.

Jordan Cargile – Cargile, a Baltimore, MD native and senior RHP at the University of Delaware currently has a 3.61 ERA. Cargile attended one of the first Softball Factory events ever held when she attended a Softball Factory Accelerated Hitting Weekend in December of 2011. She later played in the Softball Factory College World Series Select Training and the Ronald McDonald Tournament in 2012. In 2014, Jordan was a Softball Factory Pre-Season All-American.

Division II

Amanda Clark

Amber Johns – Johns is a freshman pitcher at Division II North Georgia – as of March 25th, was 2nd in Division II rankings in ERA with a 0.38 ERA for the Nighthawks. She’s 12-0 in the circle in 13 starts (18 appearances) with 83 strikeouts and only four earned runs allowed in 73 2/3 IP. Amber participated in the 2014 Under Armour Fall Classic Showcase.

Division III

Amanda Clark – Clark is currently second in all of Division III in batting average, hitting .842 for Gwynedd Mercy University. The sophomore C/IF from Philadelphia, PA is also second in slugging percentage (1.368) and was named the CSAC Player of the Week in early March after posting three or more hits in four games, including a 4-for-4 performance with four RBI’s in the team’s first game of the year against Medaille. Amanda attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Sellersville, PA and Softball Factory’s Christmas Camp & Tournament in 2014.

Gaby Hay – Hay is a freshman at Division III College of New Rochelle where she is a dual-threat with the bat and on the mound. She currently leads the team in hitting with a .400 average, five doubles, four homers and 10 RBI. On the mound, she’s posted a 4.13 ERA in six starts with 36 strikeouts in 39 IP. Hay is a decorated Softball Factory athlete, attending an Under Armour Softball Factory College PREP event and Softball Factory’s Christmas Camp & Tournament in 2015. As a junior and senior, she was named a Pre-Season All-American in 2016 & 2017.

Standout Players From 2018 UA Softball Factory All-America Rookie Pre-Season and All-America Pre-Season Tournaments

For the first time in Softball Factory history, the All-America Pre-Season Tournament included younger athletes at the UA Softball Factory All-America Rookie Pre-Season Tournament at Scrap Yard Sports in Conroe, TX.

The event for the second straight year featured special guest, three-time All-American, Jennie Finch, with wide-ranging talent from across the country. Check out some of the highlighted players from each event, featuring notes from our coaching staff.

UA Softball Factory All-America Rookie Pre-Season Tournament

Reagan Marchant (1B, 2022) – Reagan is a vocal leader on the field, and is very athletic. Good position awareness at first, very coachable. Offensively, she makes adjustments at the plate, squares up the ball well and has good pop. Great team player. Was named Best Defensive Player of the event.

Kayla Garber (SS, 2022) – Takes command at short, strong arm, and showed good position awareness at multiple positions. Switch hitter with power from both sides, making hard, consistent contact. Took home the first ever Rookie MVP award at the event.

Lilly Hood (2B/OF, 2022) – Lilly is a power hitter, great plate awareness and a very hard out to get. Best of all, she’s coachable with a great work ethic. Was named Best Offensive Player at the event.

Sophia Bianco (SS, 2022) – Sophia moves well at short, taking great angles to the ball. Bianco is a line drive hitter with pop on her bat. Overall, a strong athlete with a ton of potential. She was one of the Most Improved players at the event.

Emma McLean (OF/IF, 2022) – Emma showed good bat control, takes good angles in the outfield when tracking balls, and not afraid to go after it and dive for them either. Her arm plays well from the field. She was one of the Most Improved players at the event.

UA Softball Factory All-America Pre-Season Tournament

Taryn Bennett (C/2B, 2020) – Bennett calls her own game; excellent framer of pitches, strong arm with quick release. Offensively, she has pop in her bat, hits to all fields, squares up the ball. Named Top Offensive Player of the Tournament. 

Hayley Parrott (SS/RHP, 2019) – Parrott is an absolute spark plug on the field; plays her position well. What a gamer. Barrels up the ball well, solid line drive hitter. Confident and coachable, she has all the tools to play at the collegiate level. Parrott was named the All-America Pre-Season MVP.

Madison Shea (OF, 2020) – Shea demonstrated her ability to be a vocal leader on the field. In the outfield, she takes great angels to the ball, and offensively, has gap to gap power. Shea was named Top Defensive Player of the Tournament.

Jessica Persechino (SS/RHP, 2019) -Persechino was very effective on the mound at Pre-Season. She gets key outs, and is also no easy out at the plate with the bat. She was the Most Improved Player of the Tournament. 

Softball Factory Player Lauryn Brooks Reinvents Game, Leading To Commitment To Hampton University

Lauryn Brooks

Softball Factory athlete Lauryn Brooks, a stand-out 2018 CF/2B at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, has committed to Hampton University through hard work and reinvention (more on that shortly).

Brooks, who became interested in the sport of softball at an early age, watching major leaguers hit homers and steal bases on TV, wanted to do the same kinds of things. Full of energy growing up, she played any sport involving a ball, including bowling and basketball.

At eight, she played tee-ball and baseball for the Bowie Boys & Girls Club before her parents put her into softball to learn the sport. Since then, she’s played on travel teams in Maryland and Virginia, most recently with Virginia Glory in competitive
tournaments across the country as a middle infielder and center fielder.

This past summer, Brooks joined the Virginia Legends, coached by Kevin Shafer and gave back with community service, coaching under-privileged youth with the Washington DC Grays Team under the Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities (RBI) program.

Brooks attended her first Softball Factory, an Under Armour National Tryout in La Plata,
Maryland, just days’ shy of her 13th birthday in the summer of 2013. From there, she spent countless hours in the cages and playing in high-level Factory events such as: Spring Training and Christmas Camp at Historic Dodgertown and Softball Factory’s Eastern and Fall Classic Showcases.

“Spring training at Vero Beach was my very first major event and I was so excited to be on the grounds where Jackie Robinson once trained,” Lauryn said. “I learned so much from the drills, all-day workouts and staying on campus with other players which gave me a feel for what
playing in college might be like.”

Lauryn’s father, David, could see the natural, yet underdeveloped softball skills that were
bubbling on the surface when she started with the Factory. It was only a matter of time to
polish that talent.

“After trying out for the Softball Factory, Lauryn received encouraging feedback that she had the potential to play softball at the next level,” David said. “From that point on, Lauryn became more attentive and focused every time she took the field. With every Factory event, practice, and game, her development continued. Lauryn has developed a mindset that there is always a way to get better.”

That mindset has helped Brooks become a standout starting catcher for three seasons at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, as her team won three county and regional championships, while also making three appearances in the Maryland state 4A semi-finals.

Brooks put together an outstanding junior season in 2017, one in which the team went 18-2 overall, reeling off 14 straight wins to start the season as she paced the team offensively,
leading her Raiders squad in home runs (8) and tied for the most RBI (32) before she was sidelined with a broken arm. She was voted a First-Team Softball All Met in 2017 by the Washington Post, becoming the first Prince George’s County (MD) public school softball athlete to receive that honor in the last 15 years, and was nominated for the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year award.

Despite the injury, Brooks spent five months recovering, which she says, “felt like years.” She
remained determined to get back quick, not letting that derail what she had been working hard to achieve.

“I hated watching from the sidelines. I had too much time on my hands so I did everything the physical therapist required and more and my arm healed. My love of the game motivated me to push myself to get back on the field. Every time I’m on the field, I know it is a gift that I can’t take for granted.”

Accolades aside, realizing her chances were becoming harder to stand out at the next level, Brooks took on the task of reinventing herself: She became a lefty slap hitter.

Brooks already had half the equation that college coaches longed for; her lightning-quick speed was a major factor (recorded a 2.95 20-yard time at a recent Softball Factory event), but now needed a new wrinkle to her game.

The idea to become a slap hitter was first recognized by Factory coaches, Katie Rietkovich and CJ Browder, noting Lauryn’s speed and athleticism and then formulated in the cages of Softball Factory headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, working numerous times with Softball Factory’s Senior Director, Lea Ann Jarvis, in one-on-one meetings. Brooks had to completely start over, learning new skills as Jarvis taught and un-taught her skills that she learned at an early age.

It was a frustrating transition, first learning how to swing from the left side, then, getting the footwork of hitting the softball while moving forward down, all while working to grow the
confidence at the plate to repeat and do it successfully. It took her a year and a half to get the
mechanics down, but in the end it paid off and she began getting solid looks from coaches.
From this situation, came a close bond with Coach Jarvis.

“Coach Jarvis has been my hitting coach for almost four years now. She is like family,” Lauryn said. “She is direct with me about where I need to improve and is very encouraging at the same time. She has supported me through the challenges of switching to the left side to slap hit. I strongly believe that her instruction and the Softball Training have contributed to
improvements in my skill level and are one of the main reasons why I am going to college to play softball at the Division I level.”

“When Lauryn decided to make the change from righty to lefty, it was the best discussion that she made to become a Division I athlete,” Jarvis said. “She is one of the hardest workers that I work with at Player Development events and hitting lessons.”

Lauryn’s Player Development Coordinator, Julia Rice first met the family in 2014 and remembers talking to them about the switch to the left side because of her speed.

“Lauryn has grown so much since I started working with her,” Rice said. “It is amazing that in a few short years, she is a triple-threat slapper at the plate. She can bunt, soft slap, power slap, and hit for power. She has worked incredibly hard with Coach Jarvis and on her own being the best slapper she can be.”

From the beginning, Factory staff were right there for Lauryn, ready to provide encouragement or advice, something David appreciated greatly.

“Throughout our years with the Factory, Coach Rice and Coach Jarvis have maintained open lines of communications to discuss progress, recruiting, and just about any topic Lauryn wanted to discuss.”

Through her work on the field and in the classroom, the Brooks family navigated the sometimes-tricky college recruiting process, leading her to find Hampton University for a variety of reasons.

For starters, Lauryn’s mom, Kim is a Hampton alum. Lauryn said she chose the school because of the way it felt like home as soon as she stepped foot on campus. She also immediately connected with Hampton head coach Angela Nicholson’s vision.

“I liked how she emphasized personal responsibility for staying in shape and working out,” Lauryn said. “I also liked her emphasis on academics. I love learning, being a leader, doing community service, and performing well in school. I feel like I will be able to continue a high-level of academic performance while also playing softball with Coach Nicholson.”

“I am over the moon excited that she has committed to Hampton,” Rice said. “They have everything that she is looking for in a school. It really shows that if someone works hard enough in the classroom and on the ball field, good things happen.”

Brooks could have easily packed it in after her injury and learning to reinvent her game, but didn’t, something Jarvis was proud of.

“When she missed all of the 2017 summer with her injury, she never got down,” Jarvis said. “She knew if she continued to have a great work ethic, great attitude and be a student of the game, she would be just fine. I’m so proud of Lauryn that she will be continuing her softball career at Hampton University.” 

The life-long memories made on the fields across the country with the Factory are priceless, according to Lauryn. The All-America Pre-Season Tournament earlier this month was the most fun she’s ever had as she still keeps in contact with several players she met there, and along the way at other Factory events. Along with the care shown by the coaches and other staff, Lauryn says all of these memories will stay with her, well past when she’s done playing softball.

“They (Factory) are people that care about you because they want to see you succeed,” Lauryn said. “The coaches find a way to relate to players because they were in our shoes. Factory coaches/staff  want to give back to the game, they want to give kids the advantage of learning softball the right way.”

David agrees that by seeing Lauryn go through it, that it was worth the hard work, determination and sacrifice.

“I would highly recommend the Softball Factory. It’s a professionally run organization with highly qualified, energetic, positive staff. The staff relates well with the players and share their experiences as student athletes to help players understand what it takes to be successful in high school and college.”

“I’d tell them that if softball is really the sport they want to continue playing, then the Softball Factory is a great organization to help increase their skill level,” Lauryn said. “The training may be hard, but it is worth it. I don’t want to be cliché and say that softball and the factory will teach life lessons that you will carry for the rest of your life, but it’s true. Everything you will be taught at the Factory, you will need to get through college regardless if you are play softball or not.” 

Eight Softball Factory Alums Named 2017 Gatorade State Softball Players of the Year

Gatorade has announced the Softball Players of the Year for 2016-17, based on the state each player lives in and this year, eight Softball Factory alums were part of the honor.

Avery Wheatley

Delaware – Avery Wheatley: Avery is a shortstop from Delmar, Delaware and just wrapped up her senior season at Delmar High School. She helped lead the Wildcats to the state championship game at the time she was selected. Wheatley hit .662 with 19 RBI and 40 runs scored and was a First Team All-State selection. Softball Factory first saw Wheatley at a College PREP event in Savannah, GA in November 2014 and a month later, attended Softball Factory’s Christmas Camp & Tournament. In 2015, she participated in the Under Armour Softball Factory Fall Classic. Wheatley has committed to play at the next level with Appalachian State University.

Jocelyn Alo

Hawaii – Jocelyn Alo: Alo has now been named Hawaii’s Gatorade State Player of the Year in back-to-back years. She is a senior catcher at Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, HI and helped lead the Lady Sabers to a Division I state title this season, hitting .571 with 12 home runs and 27 RBI. Defensively, she threw out nearly 40% of baserunners attempting to steal. Alo attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Hemet, CA in November, 2016. She has committed to play at the next level with the University of Oklahoma.

Maryland – Kaitlin Beasley-Polko: The Leonardtown, MD native is a senior right-handed pitcher at Leonardtown High School and had an incredible season for the record books. Beasley-Polko dominated in her senior season, going 21-2 with an 0.36 ERA, striking out 331 in 157 innings pitched. Her dominance lasted all season as she threw six no-hitters, including one perfect game, and 15 shutouts. Kaitlin attended the 2016 Under Armour Softball Factory Eastern Classic as an 18U Participant and has committed to Coastal Carolina.

Meghan Beaubien

Michigan – Meghan Beaubien: Beaubien wrapped up her senior season at St. Mary Catholic Central High School where she helped the Kestrels to an 18-3 record at the time of her selection. Meghan was 15-1 in the circle with an ERA of 0.43 and 244 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched through 21 games. She attended a November 2016 National Tryout in Waterford Township (Detroit), MI. She will be playing at the next level with the University of Michigan.

Lauren Burke

Oregon – Lauren Burke: Lauren is a senior shortstop at Marist Catholic High School. Burke is the returning Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year in Oregon and helped the Spartans to a 25-3 record at the time of her selection. Putting together a solid senior season, Burke hit .629 with 14 doubles, 10 home runs, four triples, 62 runs scored and 42 RBI through 28 games. She attended a National Tryout in Hemet, California in 2016 and will play at the next level with the University of Oregon.

South Carolina – Bailey Betenbaugh: Bailey is the only underclass selection of the eight, a huge feat for the sophomore right-handed pitcher and infielder from Union County High School in Union, South Carolina, helping to lead the Yellow Jackets (26-6) to the Class 4A state championship this past season. On the mound, Bailey was 16-4 with a 1.38 ERA and hit .504 with nine homers this season. Softball Factory saw the talented Betenbaugh at an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Columbia, South Carolina back in 2015.

Casey Dixon with her Easton Glove at 2017 Softball Factory All-America Pre-Season Tournament

Texas – Casey Dixon: The senior right-handed pitcher from Willis High School in Willis, TX helped lead the Wildkats to a 39-7 record at the time of her selection with an incredible 34-7 mark in the circle with a 1.07 earned run average and an astounding 415 strikeouts in 236 innings this season. The University of Louisiana-Lafayette commit was even better during their playoff run, tossing two complete games on a single day in each of Willis’ final three rounds of the Class 5A Region 3 Tournament, as her wins were the deciders in each series.

Dixon attended the 2017 Softball Factory All-America Pre-Season Tournament in January and shined, winning an Easton Gloveman Award for her performance.

Virginia – Kathryn Sandercock: Kathryn is a junior right-handed pitcher from Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, VA. She helped lead the Knights to a perfect 27-0, winning both the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state titles this past season. Sandercock was 26-0 with a 0.09 ERA – yes, an 0.09 ERA – and 330 strikeouts in 151 innings pitched, allowing just 35 hits and 19 walks. Softball Factory staff saw the talented Sandercock at the 2016 Under Armour Softball Factory Eastern Classic where soon after, she was selected as a standout to train for the 2017 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team in Oklahoma City, OK this summer. Sandercock has committed to play at James Madison University.

Softball Factory Alumni On Team Rosters Entering The 2017 NCAA Division I Championship

The field for the 2017 NCAA Division I Championship was set earlier this week and games are underway as we’re sure to see some exciting match-ups and storyline intrigue over the coming weeks as the University of Oklahoma looks to defend their 2016 Championship.

The pairings were announced and the Southeastern Conference set a new record as all 13 teams were selected to the tournament, the most in conference history. According to the NCAA website, the Pac-12 had eight teams selected to the tourney and three schools will make their first ever appearance: East Tennessee State University, University of Montana and Saint Francis University (PA).

For the third straight year, the University of Florida holds the overall No. 1 seed in the Championship Tournament and will host Florida A&M in their first matchup.

This year, 45 of the 64 teams entered into the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship tournament have at least one Softball Factory alumnae on a roster. In total, 78 players who have participated in at least one Softball Factory event are on the rosters of teams looking for the opportunity to be called champion. East Tennessee State and Fairfield lead the way, with both teams having four alums on their rosters.

Below is a list of our alums who are on rosters of teams selected for this year’s tournament.

University of Florida:  Kelly Barnhill, Amanda Lorenz, Nicole DeWitt

Florida A&M: Tahlia Snider, Jamesia Stoudemire

University of Arizona: Taylor McQuillin, Alyssa Palomino, Michelle Floyd

University of Oregon: Mia Camuso, Cherish Burks

Florida State: Elizabeth Mason

UCLA: Rachel Garcia, Bubba Nickles

University of Washington: Morganne Flores

Auburn University: Alexa Nemeth

University of Tennessee: Kassidy Gallo, Meghan Gregg

Texas A&M: Keeli Milligan

University of Oklahoma: Falepolima Aviu, Lea Wodach

University of Utah: Kelly Martinez, Maddie Roth

OLE MISS: Bryanna Castro

Baylor: Gia Rodoni

University of Minnesota: Allie Arneson, Carlie Brandt

University of Michigan: Katie Alexander

James Madison University: Cambry Arnold

Marshall: Elizabeth Deshields

BYU: Briielle Breland, Libby Sugg

Jacksonville State: Kirsten Titus, Ryann Luna

Louisiana-Lafayette: Alyssa Denham

Tulas: Brittany Walker

University of South Carolina-Upstate: Kristen Wright, Karla Beasley

Missouri: Lexi Rampetsreiter, Taylor Kirby

Oklahoma State: Logan Simunek

University of Illinois: Danielle Brochu, Ruby Rivera

DePaul: Morgan Greenwood

Mississippi State: Maddie Dorsett

Fresno State: Kamalani Dung

Montana: Sara Stephenson

East Tennessee State University: Nikki Grupp, Rebecca Wahrmund, Kelly Schmidt, Taylor Wright

Notre Dame: Alexis Bazos

Arkansas: Keely Edwards, Aly Manzo

Kent State: Jade WilliamsVanessa Scoarste

Oregon State: Shelby Weeks, Riley Gregoire, Fallon Molnar

South Carolina: Lex Hull

University of Georgia: Madison McPherson

McNeese State: Erika Piancastelli, Brenique WrightAlexandria Saldivar

Fairfield: Danielle Tringali, Angelina McGuire, Hannah Futo, Courtney Hankins

University of North Carolina: Leah Murray

San Jose State: Colette Riggs

Lehigh: Jennifer Stoll

Longwood:  Jessica Smith, Leanna Toler, Kasey Carr

Texas State: Randi Rupp, Sara Rupp

Texas Southern: Jazmyn Foster, Heaven Benavidez, Tyra Williams