Category Archives: News

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!

Softball Factory Alum Molly McChesney Excited to Live Out Dream of Playing DI Softball After Committing to University of Akron

Molly McChesney signing National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Akron

Softball Factory player and 2019 shortstop/outfielder Molly McChesney has signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Akron, after committing to join the Zips roster back in September of her junior year.

For McChesney, choosing the University of Akron was something that just felt natural to her.

“When I first met head coach Julie Jones and associate head coach Julie Pratt with the University of Akron, I had a good feeling about them,” she recalls. “They were so easy to talk to and they made me feel very comfortable. They invited me to a camp and that was the start of our communication. My first time on campus was in the winter of my Sophomore year. It felt like home the second I arrived. There wasn’t a part of campus that I didn’t like. All the athletic facilities and athlete dorms are very close. Everything felt right.”

While making the choice to commit to the joining the Zips was easy for her, the recruiting process as a whole was a little more difficult at times for the Verona Area High School senior and she credits Softball Factory as something that helped her with this important chapter of her softball career.

“The recruiting process for me consisted of many emails, phone calls and camps.” McChesney remembers.

McChesney at the 2016 Softball Factory Christmas Camp and Tournament

One of those emails came from Softball Factory Executive Player Development Coordinator, Steve Nagler.

“Steve Nagler sent a very nice email to Coach Jones, as well as a few other schools I was looking into,” McChesney, who attended both a Softball Factory National Tryout in Madison, Wis. in July of 2016 and the Softball Factory Christmas Camp and Tournament in Vero Beach, Fla. in December of the same year, explains. “That email included my Softball Factory profile which had all my results from testing in Florida. I believe that email to have been very beneficial as it came from a well-known organization and had reliable stats, information and notes from reputable coaches and former collegiate players.”

The 2016 Softball Factory Christmas Camp and Tournament helped the student-athlete in other ways as well.

“I enjoyed how from sunrise to sunset, the intensity remained high and I felt I was always being pushed to get better,” she says.  “All of the coaches were extremely helpful, and each had a strong background of the game. I felt all the skills being taught were applicable not only to my game, but the game of softball as a whole.”

McChesney still applies what she learned with Softball Factory to her game today.

“​​I utilize running on the balls of my feet rather than flat footed, so I can run faster,” the future Biomedical Science major reveals. “Also, I attack the ball when I’m fielding and try to avoid letting the ball play me. I continue to scoop my glove at the last second before the ball gets to me and work to meet the ball rather than fielding it into my stomach.”

Committing to the University of Akron came with a sense of relief for the Verona, Wis. native.

“When I committed, it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” McChesney admits. “I felt I could start playing softball again for me, not for anyone else and not having to be perfect all the time in fear of making a mistake and getting crossed off a coach’s list. “

Being able to play the sport for herself again it is something that McChesney holds close to her heart.

McChesney fielding for Verona Area High School

“There are so many aspects of the game that I love,” she gushes. “The family atmosphere that my teams possess, the relationships that are formed with teammates and coaches, the travel and the opportunity to see different parts of the country, and the game itself. The game brings me so much happiness and when I play, I feel I can be 100% true to who I am. Softball allows me to push myself to be a better teammate, player and person. I’ve learned so many life skills such as perseverance, determination, patience, understanding, trust and acceptance in my years of playing and I will forever be grateful that I get to continue to play the game I love so much.”

McChesney at bat for Verona Area High School

When looking at her high school stats, it is not difficult to see why the University of Akron had their eyes on McChesney. At the end of her junior season, the slugger finished with a career-best .563 batting average and had raked in 45 hits, two doubles and 13 RBI along the way.

Now, McChesney will be able to continue her success and play the sport she loves at the next level.

“Despite being stressful at times, and a lot of emails and one-sided communication, in the end, I wouldn’t trade my recruiting process for the world and I am so thankful for Coach Jones and Coach Pratt for giving me the opportunity to live out my dream of playing Division I softball.”

In The Circle- Importance of the Mental Game

The game of softball is full of ups and downs.

There are times when players feel great and on top of the world, and times when they feel the lowest of lows. This is when the mental part of the game comes into play. The crazy part about softball is that if you fail 7-out-of-10 times, you are considered an amazing hitter. Having a strong mental approach is extremely important to succeed.

The biggest mental test I ever had actually happened to me my senior year of college.

I was the only senior pitcher on our team and I wanted to prove to my team and myself that I could handle high pressure situations. I also wanted my senior year to be the best and to go out on a high note.

Our team had just begun Pre-Season, and we were heading to Athens GA, to play the No. 5 team in the country, The University of Georgia. I had a conversation with our head coach the day before we played and she said I was going to get the ball in the first game. Once she told me that, I was all over the place in my head. I wanted to prove to everyone that our team could hang with them, and that I was the right person to be in the circle throwing.

I probably got about an hour of sleep the night before because I was so nervous and anxious. Once I started warming up for the game, the nerves kicked in. I was extremely nervous and I wasn’t confident in myself. When the game started I was completely in my head. Let’s just say, the first inning definitely showed all of this. First pitch of the game, homerun. Second batter walked. Third batter hit a home run. Fourth batter hit a homerun. And then just like that, I was pulled out of the game. I didn’t even get an out.

I remember sitting in the dugout thinking “How did this happen? I am THE senior pitcher on this team. I let my whole team down. How could I do that?”

As I watched the rest of the game, I tried to cheer my teammates on, but I felt like I let them down because I had a bad outing. I have never been harder on myself than how I was after that game.

I spoke to my catcher the next day who said, “J, it is just a game. One performance doesn’t define you as a person. You are an amazing pitcher. Next time you go out there relax, HAVE FUN, and know that you are doing the best you can. Your team supports you 100%.”

Her words really stuck with me and the next two weeks during practice I was able to relax more. During spring break, our team was heading down to Gainesville Florida to play the No. 1 Team in the country, The University of Florida. Before the game, my coaches pulled me aside and said that I was getting the ball again. They said they believed in me 100% and just wanted me to do the best that I could.

My mindset for this game was completely different than the game against Georgia. I told myself that I just wanted to have fun and enjoy every second of pitching. I only had about three more months left to play college softball, and I wanted to soak in every moment. Win or lose, I knew that I had put the work in.

In this game, things were night and day different from the Georgia game. I threw a three hitter, and our team only lost 1-0, which happened to be in the bottom of the 7th inning. That game is the best game that I ever pitched in my whole life.

Regardless of the score, I was so proud of myself and my team that we hung with the best team in the country. It showed me that I deserved to be on the mound, and how important having a strong mental game was.

The Georgia game and Florida game were two weeks apart. In those two weeks I didn’t become a whole new pitcher and change my pitching style. However, I did change my mental approach.

Softball is supposed to be fun; that is why we play. Yes, there will be failures, but it is how you bounce back when things don’t go your way. You can’t dwell on an at-bat that you had from the first inning and let that carry with you into the next inning. You need to have a short memory, and focus on the next pitch and next play. If things aren’t going your way, cheer on your teammates and focus on the things that you can control.

Preparing mentally is just as important – if not more – than any other part of your game. At the end of the day, you only have a certain amount of time to play the game of softball, it is important to enjoy every second you can!

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.

In The Circle-Overcoming Adversity

The sport of softball teaches you many life lessons not only on the field but off the field. One of the biggest lessons happened to me when I was eight years old. I learned at an early age how to overcome adversity, how to be a good teammate, and I realized that sometimes things just don’t happen the way you want them to.

I started pitching when I was seven years old. I pitched almost every day growing up; I absolutely loved it. I did everything I could to become better. I played on an 8 and Under Rec Ball team in our local softball league and was primarily our #1 pitcher. The biggest goal I had that year was to make the “A” All Star team. The A team would be the best 12-to-13 girls from the league and they would play all summer in different tournaments.

This would be my first year making All-Stars, and I couldn’t wait to play the whole summer and get better. There were many people throughout the rec ball season that said I was going to make the team, and I couldn’t wait for my parents to get that call.

Our rec ball season came and went, and it was time for coaches to pick the All-Star team. The way the voting goes for the All-Star team is that each manager selects girls that they feel should make the team. They are supposed to select the best girls on the A team, and then the second tier girls would make the B team. It turned out that all the managers that were voting had daughters that were pitchers, and all of those girls ended up on the A team.

Unfortunately, my family got the call that I was going to be on the “B” team. I remember being sad, shocked, and confused. I worked incredibly hard all year, I was the best pitcher in the league, and I was on the B team? How did this happen? This is when I learned that politics, as much as we don’t want them to be, play a role in sports.

I remember having a conversation with my dad about the situation. He said, “J, you can either not play on the B team and not play All-Stars because you are upset, OR you can play on the team and be the best pitcher that you can be and show them that they made a mistake.”

Even though I was extremely disappointed, I decided to play on the B team that year. Playing on that team was hands down one of the best things I ever did. I got to pitch all the time, received incredible coaching, and learned some amazing life lessons. Our team was one of the best B team’s that our organization had ever seen with our team finishing with an 18-4 record.

One of the greatest things that came from the situation was in the second tournament our team ended up playing our A team. We beat them 4-2, which to this day is the only time a B team has beaten an A team from our All-Star program.

My dad received a call after our second tournament from the coaches of the A team. They realized that they made a mistake and they wanted me on their team. Again, I talked with my parents about switching to the A team, but in the end I stayed on the B team. The B team didn’t have any other pitchers, and I did not want to let them down. I had made a commitment to my team and I wanted to stay. I already had a great relationship with my teammates and coaches, and I knew that being loyal was extremely important.

It is crazy to think that I learned some of my most valuable life lessons as an eight year old. I learned that even if you feel you deserve something, sometimes things just don’t go your way and to work even harder. Politics are a part of the sport, but never let them get in the way of you and your goal. Adversity in sports happens, but it is how you bounce back from that adversity.

I could have given up, not played on the team, or had a terrible attitude throughout the whole All-Star season. However, I was able to turn this negative situation into a positive and learn from it. In life, it is how you bounce back from these situations that can not only make you a better ball player, but more importantly a better person.

Softball Factory Alum Chloe Bryant Excited For Next Chapter After Committing to Texas A&M Kingsville

When asked what she loves about softball, Softball Factory alum Chloe Bryant cannot help but to gush about her appreciation for the sport that has given her so much.

“What I love about softball is that it’s different from any other sport I’ve played,” the multi-sport student-athlete answered. “I play high school volleyball and I run track, but in softball you have a family. You have each other’s back win or lose. During and after the games on the weekend, I have the most fun and make the best memories with my team – my second family.”

Bryant, a senior shortstop and outfielder at Pleasanton High School, will get to continue to play the sport she loves most at the next level, as she has recently committed to Texas A&M Kingsville University.

Chloe at bat for Pleasanton High

The future Javelina believes Softball Factory assisted her with the recruiting process.

“Softball Factory taught me at a young age that the emotions I give off really can affect getting recruited,” she explains. “No one wants someone who gives up after one error. Coaches want to see how you accept failure and Softball Factory taught me that.”

“I liked how everyone was doing the same thing,” Bryant continues. “No matter how good you were, we went back to the basics and made sure we were doing everything right. The biggest takeaway would be that there’s always something that needs improvement, that being good enough isn’t enough.”

Bryant at the 2016 Softball Factory World Series in Vero Beach, Fla.

The Pleasanton, Texas native, who has attended both an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in San Antonio, Texas in January of 2016 and the Softball Factory World Series in Vero Beach, Fla. in June of the same year, is still applying skills she’s learned while attending Softball Factory events to her game today.

“I actually was told that at one of the sessions that when I open my hips up to a ball that I would stand up instead of just opening up, staying low and getting the ball,” Bryant said. “I’ve worked on it a lot, and I’ve gotten a lot of balls that I wouldn’t have gotten without being told that.”

Softball Factory has helped her to make some lifestyle changes that have also benefited her game.

“Another thing that I learned that I’ve applied to my life after my time with Softball Factory was to eat healthy,” the 2019 grad recalls. “I remember eating heavy food before our workout one day and I was supper sluggish. Later I ate better food that would boost my energy and I felt a lot better. Ever since then I haven’t had to worry about being sluggish. Eating healthy really helps you play better.”

Bryant is excited to take all that she has learned with her to the next level of her softball career. Playing on the collegiate stage has been a dream for the 2019 high school grad. Now that dream will soon become reality.

“Committing was something I had been waiting my whole life for and committing to Texas A&M Kingsville was just the cherry on top,” she says. “Going into the recruiting process, things that I knew would determine my decision were how I really felt about the campus, the coaches and just if I could see myself there for the next four years of my life. I automatically fell in love with everything at first sight and knew that Kingsville would be my home for the next four years.”

That being said, Bryant also wants to soak up the last year of her high school career as much as possible. She knows she will miss her “second family”.

“These girls will always have an impact on my life, and in about a year saying goodbye to them will be the hardest thing,” Bryant admits.

“The reason I love softball is because it’s given me people and memories I will never forget,” Bryant says, circling back to what fuels her passion for the game, “it’s shaped me into who I am today and I’m forever grateful that all those years ago I saw a sign that read ‘little league signups due today.’ God has a plan, and his was for me to be a softball player.”

In the Circle- My Love For The Game

Ever since I was five years old, the only thing I ever wanted to do was play Division I Softball. Softball was my life.

At the age of seven, I started pitching and never looked back. I loved the game more than anything. The goal I set for myself as a five year old to play Division I ball was achieved. On top of that, the past four and a half years I have been fortunate enough to stay involved in the sport of Softball by working at the Softball Factory. This sport has given me so many opportunities and the many people I have met in the game has been amazing.

In the Circle will give you a look into the many different parts of Softball and how much this sport impacts you not only on the field but more importantly off the field. Enjoy!

Girls…make sure to always thank your parents. I know you hear this all the time, but I want to make the first “In The Circle” blog about this topic. It is extremely important and something that many people take for granted. I know that growing up I did this at times, however, there is no way I would be where I am today without them.

My dad and I at seven years old on my 8 and Under Rec ball team.

As I mentioned, from a very early age I wanted to play College Softball. I remember when I was seven, I told my dad I wanted to start pitching because I was bored playing other positions. He asked if I would take it seriously because he didn’t want to spend the money on lessons if I didn’t want to practice or care about it. I said I wanted to, and from then on, I was set.

When I started taking pitching lessons, my dad became my catcher. He caught me every single time I needed to pitch. Looking back, those are some of the best times I had with my dad. On certain occasions, we would pitch at 6AM and find a field with lights on, because I knew that we couldn’t pitch later on in the day. Or we would pitch at 10PM before bed because I knew I needed to get a bullpen in. He never ever complained, whether the weather was freezing cold, or extremely hot, or if I wasn’t in the…best mood that day, he was a trooper and was always there for me.

I had been pitching for about a year, when I found out that my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia. As an eight year old, you don’t really understand what that means. In reality, it meant my dad would be in the hospital for 6-to-8 months and it would take close to a year for him to become 100% healthy. This also meant that the catcher I was used to having, wasn’t able to be there. Thinking of my dad not surviving never crossed my mind. Thankfully he beat cancer, and today is as healthy as ever. He actually just celebrated his 20th anniversary of being cancer free this past May.

Reflecting back, there is no way I would be where I am without him and the sacrifices he made. When I was in college and came home for holidays and the summer, my dad would wear full catching gear any time he caught me. It may have looked a bit funny to people walking by, but his response was always “Do you want to try to catch her?” I will cherish the moments and memories I had with my dad forever because they are some of the best times of my life.

When my dad was sick, my mom attempted to catch me. She caught me maybe….three times and then said I was throwing too hard. However, she was my biggest fan, biggest supporter, and knew more about what I was doing incorrectly pitching wise then sometimes I did. She came to all of my games (even if we had Nationals in the hottest places, or had seven games in a day, or had the 8AM game and we had to get up at 5 AM, etc…) She was a trooper through it all.

My parents and I at Mercer. I don’t know where I would be without them.

When I was 12 years old, my family got the news that my mom had Breast Cancer. That was a big shock and a hit to everyone in my family especially after everything my dad went through. This news was difficult since I was in seventh grade, and this time I fully understood what was going on. My mom like my dad is a fighter and has been cancer free for the last 15 years.

Through all of her treatments, she did whatever she could to make sure she was at my games. She tried to go to as many pitching lessons as she could, and tried to stay as involved as possible. I am her #1 fan and she is not only my mom, but my best friend.

Looking back on my career, I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of my parents. Not only are they my heroes, but they always supported my goals and dreams to play softball. They drove me everywhere I needed to go, never complained about not having a “real family vacation,” spent money on new equipment, travel team fees, pitching/hitting lessons, hotels, etc. You name it, they did whatever they could to support me.

I played softball at two different colleges, 5,000 miles away from home, and they supported me through all the ups and the downs. I realized how much I missed having my parents at my games in college when I wasn’t able to see them every weekend. There is no way that I would be the type of player and person that I am today without them.

I want to end this with what I said in the beginning: Always say thank you to your parents, and never take them for granted. Understand that they make sacrifices for you every single day. There are probably times that they would rather not be at the fields from 6AM-10 PM every single weekend, but they do it because they love you. They do it because they want you to succeed and be the best softball player you can be. Always appreciate them, because they do more for you than you will ever know.

Three Former Softball Factory Standouts Contributing to University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s 4-0 Fall Season Start

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Spartans are off to a hot 4-0 start this 2018 Fall Ball season and three Softball Factory alums have been key contributors to their perfect record.

Stephanie Bryden – Going into her senior season, Bryden has been making the most of her fall softball experience. In game one, a 13-7 victory over Charlotte, Bryden hit an RBI fielder’s choice in the third inning, and later crossed the plate to score a run herself on her teammate’s RBI double. Bryden also hit a double in the Spartan’s fall season debut.

Her success continued in games two and three of the fall season.

In the second fall contest, the pitcher and designated hitter threw four scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, one walk and no hits, helping to lead her team to a 7-2 win over Elon. The Miami, Fla. native then scored a run in an 8-5 victory over Duke in game three. Bryden attended the 2014 Under Armour Softball Factory Fall Showcase.

Katie Stettler – Stettler, a sophomore infielder and outfielder for the Spartans, has also been putting runs on the board for her team this fall.

The Powhatan, Va. Native smacked a clutch two-out single in the fifth inning and scored on a double in her team’s fall season debut. In the fourth inning of game two, she delivered another single and scored a second run on an RBI triple. Stettler drew an RBI walk in her team’s third win on the fall season and scored a run. The Softball Factory alum attended an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Richmond, Va. in May of 2015 and participated in the Softball Factory World Series in June of the same year.

Delaney Cumbie – Cumbie made quite the splash in game four of the fall season. The freshman infielder and outfielder slugged a grand slam to tie up the game at 4 in what would end up being a 6-5 walk off win over North Carolina.

The Dunn, N.C. native played for Team South Carolina under Softball Factory coaches Leah and Dave Majeski and has taken part in two Softball Factory events, an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Raleigh, N.C. in October of 2014 and the 2015 Softball Factory World Series.

Softball Factory Athlete Taylor Soanes Verbally Commits to Seton Hall University

Taylor Soanes with legendary softball pitcher, Jennie Finch (right) and Softball Factory’s Senior Director, Lea Ann Jarvis (right)

Softball Factory athlete and Ridge Point High School senior, Taylor Soanes has verbally committed to taking her softball and academic talents to Seton Hall University.

The Pirates are getting quite the well-rounded student-athlete, as Soanes makes the most of both being on a softball field and in the classroom.

The shortstop and second baseman earned All-District Second Team Infield honors in 2018 – after receiving an honorable mention for the award in 2017 – and made the All-District Academic team both years. Soanes, a planned Criminal Justice major, has also obtained Overall Academic Excellence (2016, 2017, 2018) and Individual Academic Excellence in US History (2018), French (2017) and English (2017) merits throughout her high school career.

Soanes credits the sport of softball with giving her such discipline.

“What I love most about softball is how it has shaped me into the person I am today,” Taylor said. “My strong work ethic, my determination and leadership have all been shaped by the game I have been playing since I was seven.”

The Missouri City, Texas native reveals she also loves the sport because it has brought her some of her closest friends. Meeting new people through softball is something Soanes enjoys and Softball Factory has allowed her to do just that.

“What I liked most about Softball Factory was getting to travel and meet new people who share the love of the game.”

Soanes has attended a total of seven Softball Factory events, including the 2017 & ’18 Softball Factory All-America Pre-Season Tournament, (in addition to participating in the 2019 event in January) will also answer “the feedback” when asked what she loves about Softball Factory.

“My biggest takeaways from each event has been awesome feedback to take my skills to the next level,” Soanes said. “Softball Factory has taught me how to apply the feedback I get at each event and use it in my game, whether it is by pushing through on extension or keeping my feet moving when fielding a ground ball.”

The future Pirate names one more key takeaway she gained from her experiences with Softball Factory.

“Another thing Softball Factory has taught me is how to approach and talk to college coaches the correct way, which helped me create many relationships with coaches across the US,” the 2019 high school grad states.

Soanes was able to put her relationship-building skills to the test when she met Seton Hall’s assistant coach, Daniel Nicolaiser.

“The recruiting was very long and exhausting. There were many times I felt like giving up,” Soanes admits. “But one day this summer, Coach Daniel came down to Texas for a hitting camp and saw something in me. He invited me up to a camp where I could perform in front of the Head Coach, Paige Smith. Following the camp, I was given a tour of the campus and immediately fell in love. After the camp and the tour, I headed in to New York City being a typical tourist, when I got a call from Coach Daniel offering me a spot of the team.”

The TX Intensity infielder could not be more thrilled with her decision and is looking forward to becoming a Pirate.

“Committing to Seton Hall University was the most exciting day ever!” she exclaims. “I can’t wait to experience a real winter! I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else!”

Five Softball Factory Alumni Selected to Tryout for 2019 USA Softball Women’s National Team

41 athletes have accepted their invites to try out for the 2019 USA Softball Women’s National Team (WNT) and five of them are familiar faces to the Softball Factory family.

The five Softball Factory alumni will participate in the WNT Selection Trials in Clearwater, Fla. on January 1-6 of 2019 in hopes to nab one of 18 spots on the 2019 USA Softball WNT Training Team roster. This roster will compete at the USA Softball International Cup and select International events, before getting knocked down to 15 athletes, who will then participate in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru beginning on July 31 and running through August 11.

When looking back on their 2018 seasons, it is easy to see why each of these Softball Factory Alumni received an invite:

Jocelyn Alo

Jocelyn Alo – Alo made an immediate impact on the 2018 Oklahoma Sooners roster and in her freshman season, having already penciled herself into the program’s record books.

The 2018 NFCA Freshman of the Year led the nation in home runs (30), tying the Oklahoma single-season record, the Big 12 single-season record, and the NCAA D1 Freshman single-season record for the home run category. The utility player started all 62 games, led the nation in total bases (170) and held her team’s top spot in batting average (.420), RBI (72), slugging (.977), on-base percentage (.594) and walks (14). The Hauula, Hawaii native took part in our Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in November of 2016.

Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill – Barnhill, a junior pitcher for the Florida Gators in 2018, was a force to be reckoned with on the mound. Her 1.08 ERA is fifth-best in the nation, and her 324 strikeouts are second-most in the country and the most recorded by a Southeastern Conference pitcher in 2018.

The recipient of the 2017 USA Softball Player of the Year Award was nominated for the same honor in 2018 and led the SEC in batters SO looking (94), wins (29) and games started (38). Barnhill hails from Marietta, Ga. and attended our Under Armour Softball Factory College PREP Program in Douglasville, Ga. in April of 2015.

Rachel Garcia – As a redshirt sophomore pitcher for the UCLA Bruins in 2018, Garcia could do it all.

In the circle, the 2018 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year posted a team-leading ERA of 1.31, a 29-4 record and 315 strikeouts. At the plate, the espnW Player of the Year finished with a solid .339 batting average, 29 runs, 59 hits, six doubles, 54 RBI and 98 total bases. The 2018 Pac-12 Player of the Year also launched 11 home runs, the second-most on the team. Garcia, a Palmdale, Calif. native participated in an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Fresno, Calif. in November of 2014.

Amanda Lorenz – Lorenz, a junior outfielder for the Florida Gators in 2018, was the team’s hottest hitter. The Sport Management major held the top batting average on the team (.416) and led her team in runs (75), hits (74), doubles (19), triples (4), RBI (61), walks (70) and total bases (134). Her 11 home runs were the second-most by a Gator in 2018.

She led the SEC in doubles (19), on-base percentage (.582) and walks drawn (70). The Moorpark, Calif. native took part in an Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Fresno, Calif. in November of 2014.

Bubba Nickles – Nickles’ bat and defense as a utility player for the UCLA Bruins made the sophomore a valuable part of her team’s 2018 season. Nickles registered a hot .413 batting average on the year, along with 36 runs, 76 hits, 14 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 52 RBI and 124 total bases.

The talented Bruin recorded 51 putouts on 53 chances with two assists and zero errors to give her a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage for the 2018 season. Nickles is from Merced, Calif. and attended our Under Armour Softball Factory National Tryout in Fresno, Calif. in November of 2013.