The Top Gun Challenger this weekend is the inaugural event for USSSA Space Coast Complex. Teams from all over the country will travel to Viera, FL to compete with and against the best in the 14U, 16 U and 18U age divisions.45 teams total are registered and games will begin at 8:30 on Saturday morning while championship games will be played through Monday afternoon.
Some of the 18U teams to look out for include the Tampa Mustangs, Georgia Impact, Top Prospects, and the SoCal Athletics. An exciting match-up amongst these teams is the Tampa Mustangs vs. Georgia Impact on Sunday morning at 10:15 on Rawlings White field.
The Tampa Mustangs has twelve of their fourteen players committed to play collegiate softball all around the country. Players are verbally and officially committed to prestigious softball schools including Florida State, the University of Florida, Eastern Carolina, Maryland, North Carolina State, and University of Central Florida to name a few. Coach TJ Goelz attributes his team’s success to the practices and games played together over the years. He stated, “We are really looking forward to seeing USSSA’s new complex. We have a great relationship with USSSA and USA Elite Select and are excited to be a part in the first tournament this weekend.”
The 18U Georgia Impact team has players from several states. Athletes travel from Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Rhode Island to be able to play for Head Coach Patrick Lewis. The team gathers for practices, typically on Sundays, where the athletes, even the out of state ones (excluding the pitchers) come together to get solid skill work in for several hours at a time. The team is full of future Division 1 athletes, with players committed to colleges such as LSU, Georgia Tech, UF, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia State, and Penn State. The future is bright for this talented team. Coach Lewis says, “the girls genuinely enjoy spending time together and work hard to have a solid camaraderie”.
The SoCal Athletics are another talented group of athletes attending the Top Gun Challenger. While most of the girls on the team are based out of Southern California, there are girls from out of state. The team meets weekly for practice and loves to compete at a high level. Coach Shawn Turner (T-Bone) states, “Since coming to USA Elite, we have experienced nothing but joy.” The team is made up of girls with the desire to further their playing careers at the collegiate level, with some already committed to schools such as James Madison and San Diego State.
The Top Prospects, a team comprised of players from the Northeast is a group making the long commute to be able to compete outdoors in the Florida warmth. Being in the cold weather, the group is used to practicing indoor, taking a lot of pride in their defensive skills, learning proper fielding technique. Most of the team has played with or against each other at one point or another throughout their careers, however this will be the first time the group is playing together in full. Top Prospects is comprised of girls committed to schools such as Hofstra, Stony Brook, Seton Hall, St. Joes, Syracuse, and Quinnipiac University.
Key Players to watch:
Kaia LoPreste- Florida State
Avery Goelz- University of Florida
Kendra Falby- University of Florida
Brianna Goris- James Madison University
Julian Celis- San Diego State
Kelly Lynch- Auburn
Julia Cottrell- University of Florida
Skylar Wallace- Alabama
Malaka Belser- Syracuse
Brianna Morse- Hofstra