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Softball | Softball Tournament | 1/20/2022

PG Softball Winter World Series Recap

Jerry Miller     
Photo: Lady Hustlers 07 (Perfect Game)
BURLINGTON, Iowa - Perfect Game held a softball tournament in Burlington, Iowa this past weekend. You read that correctly. A softball tournament in Iowa. In January. During a winter storm of epic proportions. Sunday morning, as play got underway in the bracket rounds, the outside temperature was two degrees. TWO!
 
Burlington is a Norman Rockwell-like idyllic city of some 25,000, give or take, located on the Mississippi River in southeastern Iowa. It is a sports town, and the community caters to younger athletes. On this typically cold January weekend in the Midwest, the fine folks of Burlington rolled out the red carpet for Perfect Game.
 
As for the weather….no worries. PG has access to an enclosed arena, and it is, without embellishing, a great building. Fun City Turf is a beautiful indoor facility that the people in Greater Burlington take great pride in. And rightfully so. The dome can comfortably fit two regulation sized softball fields inside. The lighting is state-of-the-art, and the playing surface, along with the trappings that go with such a first rate facility, are as good as any indoor sports venue in the region, and the country.
 
As for the softball, 15 teams gathered for the annual 14U PG Winter World Series Saturday morning. Braving the remnants of Friday’s heavy snowstorm that covered the entire state, these clubs played, collectively, at a very high level, especially when one considers the time of year. Early Saturday pool play led to a double elimination bracketed tournament that eventually saw the Lady Hustlers 07, playing out of the House of Sportz in Bourbonnais, Illinois in southwestern suburban Chicago, come out on the other end of the weekend holding the gold PG trophy emblematic of a well-earned championship.
 
There were a number of teams at the Winter World Series who had the collective talent to win this tournament. The runners-up, the Wisconsin Lightning 2025 (Salem, Wis.), played well throughout the weekend and gave the champion Hustlers all they could handle. The Lightning are a very talented squad. Other clubs like Nebraska Gold 309 (Colona, Ill.), Iowa Nationals (Norwalk, Iowa), StL Aces 07 (St. Louis, Mo.), Monsters 14U-Coil (Muscatine, Iowa), TBSA Wahoos (Springfield, Ill.), St. Louis Chaos ’07-Guy (St. Charles, Mo.) and Alliance Select Cox (Des Moines, Iowa) played games worthy of note and made deep runs in the playoffs. What all of the teams that participated in this weekend’s event have in common is young people who have passion for the sport. Those teams are directed, coached, and mentored by dedicated men and women who obviously sacrifice their own time to impact the many lives they associate with. The end game of sports is not seen in the number of games and championships won, but in the lives of young women that are positively influenced. A novice softball fan would have truly appreciated the efforts of each and every participant who made the trip to Burlington this past weekend.
 
As for the champions, the Lady Hustlers 07, they were almost dominant. Almost. They only dropped one game on the weekend and that was a 3-2 decision to a very sound Iowa Nationals team in Saturday pool play. When the double elimination tourney started Saturday evening, the Lady Hustlers brought their A+ game, overwhelming opponents by a collective score of 57-17 in winning all five of their playoff games. Their only close game was a 2-1 nail-biter against an equally talented StL Aces 07 club in the playoff’s third round. Other than that one close game, the Hustlers won by an average score in the neighborhood of 14-4. That is dominance.
 
What one could appreciate about the Lady Hustlers even more than their obvious immense individual and collective talent, is the fact that they exude teamwork. They truly appear to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Winning, obviously, has a lot to do with that disposition. But, by and through casual observation, it is easy to see that these young women absolutely place “team” before “self.”  They unquestionably play for each other and revel in the success of their friends.
 
As team-oriented as the Lady Hustlers are, they did have individual performances worthy of note. Ava Olson (2025, Beecher, Ill.) was awarded the MVP trophy by tournament directors Chris Johnson and Mike Kerr. All the left-handed hitting infielder did was collect 16 hits on the weekend, score nine runs, while playing seemingly flawless defense. Congratulations to Ava who was certainly worthy of this award. Big things on the horizon for this truly gifted team leader.
 
Miah Berhenke (2026, Hampton, Ill.), the Nebraska Gold 309 three-hole hitting third baseman, had a big tournament at the dish, collecting 14 safeties that included four home runs. She also drove in 11 in showcasing an emerging talent at the plate that should certainly project to the college level as she continues through her career.
 
Wisconsin Lightning slugger Aubriella Garza (2025, Montgomery, Ill.) also had a noteworthy weekend at the plate. The noticeably-athletic Garza hit three dingers and drove in 12 in a solid performance that highlighted her obvious talent. Her current ability, which is certain to get even better, makes Aubriella a college prospect.
 
Lily Coil (2025, Columbus Junction, Iowa) of the Monsters 14U-Coil also had a noteworthy overall weekend, showcasing her ability at the plate, at shortstop, and in the circle. The Monsters' three-hole hitter is a smooth swinging left-handed hitter who can drive the ball with authority to all parts of the field. She also plays shortstop with a polished, smooth, and advanced ability generally reserved for players much her senior. Limitless future.
 
Addison Lucht (2026, Cissna Park, Ill.), Jazmine Manau (2025, Manteno, Ill.) and Ava Boyer (2025, Muscola, Ill.) of the Lady Hustlers all had solid weekends at the plate and in the field. Their projectable next-level ability is off the charts.
 
The Wisconsin Lightning 2025 club, which finished a strong second to the Lady Hustlers, received notable offensive performances from Lily Wolf (2025, Walworth, Wis.), Kaitlyn Klismith (2025, Plover, Wis.), Addison Tinerella (2025, Streamwood, Ill.), and Brinn Kempf (2025, Milwaukee, Wis.). Each of these very talented players should have an opportunity to advance to the next level when the time comes. Outstanding futures lie ahead for many of the Wisconsin Lightning players.
 
Nebraska Gold 309’s Samantha Verstraete (2025, East Moline, Ill.), Emily Griffith (2027, Dardenne Prairie, Mo.) of American Freedom StL ’08, and Mylie Hatfield (2026, Ankeny, Iowa) of the Iowa Nationals were notably good at the plate the entire tournament. Each of these promising players has emerging ability that is certain to get only better as their careers continue.
 
In the circle, the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher award went to the Lady Hustlers 07 right-handed pitcher Lindy Bates (2025, Pesotum, Ill.). The gifted hurler threw just about every important inning the Hustlers played. What is most impressive about this young lady and her approach is her poise and ability to just repeatably pound the strike zone. The moment never appears to get too big for Lindy. Having a solid defense behind her helps, and getting the offensive support to back her effort is unquestionably a big bonus. But she “gets it.” She may be a duck underwater, paddling as fast as she can, but on the surface she appears unruffled. Her ability to pitch to the edges of the plate and to all quadrants says a lot about her current ability. As she reaches physical maturity, gets a tad stronger, and gains further experience, Lindy is going to be one of the better pitching prospects in her grad class. Impressive weekend for this up-and-coming standout hurler.
 
There were many pitchers over the weekend in Burlington who showed ability that is really good now, and is certain to only get better as their careers evolve. The StL Aces 07 tandem of Abreeana Zipprich (2025, Farmington, Mo.) and Hailey Platt (2025, Ashland, Mo.) were almost dominant in their outings. The pair pitched their club into late Sunday play working the same formula. Their pace and ability to routinely throw strikes and pitch to contact was impressive, especially for two pitchers so relatively early in their careers. Bright future ahead for both.
 
The St. Louis Chaos 07-Guy pair of Haleigh Sinclair (2025, Medora, Ill.) and Bryten Kendrick (2025, St. Charles, Mo.) were competitive and fun to watch. Individually, they both have pitching operations that are fluid and allow them to repeatably throw strikes, showing plus command and advanced spin. They have a clue on how to pitch and that in itself is impressive. Big upside potential for both of these talented young ladies.
 
Aubrey Scieszinski (2025, Adel, Iowa) was one of the top hurlers in the entire tournament. The Alliance Select Cox right-handed pitcher had a truly outstanding tournament. She is a power pitcher who is entirely unafraid to challenge hitters with plus stuff. Her arm talent is off the charts and her ability to just go at hitters is impressive. She works fast and throws strikes. A great formula for success that should help her reach the next level. Plus prospect.
 
The TBSA Wahoos 08 had a solid staff too, led by right-handed pitcher Zoe Goodreau (2026, Champaign, Ill.). This gifted pitcher, who is actually a bit younger than most of the players who participated in this weekend’s exhibition, has a solid repertoire that is sound now and is certain to get better as she moves through her career. Her mechanical operation was as good as any in the tournament and her pure arm talent projects to a much higher level.
 
As the last of the teams, their coaches and fans walked back into the outside cold of Iowa in January, it would be safe to say that much was accomplished from their participation the 2022 PG 14U Winter World Series. The body language, although a bit tired from the hectic weekend, spoke volumes about the positive outcomes of this event. Young women got to work at their craft, in a team setting, and at a wonderful venue. A tip of the cap to all who participated. Perfect Game looks forward to further impacting fastpitch softball in the near future and beyond.


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