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Softball  | Softball Showcase  | 9/14/2022

Elite 40 Illinois Scouting Showcase Notes

Molly Roller      Dave Durbala     
Photo: Perfect Game
Fifty-five teams rolled into Peoria, Ill. for the Perfect Game Elite 40 Illinois Scouting Showcase, in search of winning one of the three championships up for grabs in the 14u - 18u divisions. Winning championships were Mojo 2K9 Fox out of Pendleton, Ind. in 14u, Heartland Havoc 07 out of East Moline, Ill. in 16u, and Southeast Iowa Allstars, 18u Gold Miller from Iowa City, Iowa took top honors in the 18u division.

Earning tournament MVP was Sophia Schlader (2028, Urbandale, Iowa), playing for finalist Iowa Gold-Matthews. Schlader almost single-handedly led her team to the championship. In the circle, Schlader threw a tournament-high 31 innings, amassing 60 strikeouts while topping out at 64 mph. Besides her fastball, Schlader utilized a curve, drop and change to keep batters honest to not allow them to just sit on her fastball. At the plate, constantly getting the barrel on the ball, Schlader collected 10 hits which included a double, two triples and three home runs. As Schlader develops over the next several years, gaining strength and experience, her stock will only rise and she may be one of the more highly sought-after recruits in the 2028 class.

Not to be outdone, Haley Helm (2027, Savoy, Ill.) of the championship-winning Mojo 2K9 Fox, took home the MV-Pitcher award. Also a two-way player, in the circle Helm is more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher, collected 11 strikeouts in her 11 innings pitched and topped out at 61 mph. At the plate, Helm had seven hits, three doubles and a home run; included in this was going 2-for-2 with two doubles in the championship game.

The MVP award went to Payton Brown (2023, Taylor Ridge, Ill.), playing for finalist Heartland Havoc 05. The right-handed hitting Illinois State commit barreled the ball up all weekend. Using a solid lower half and keeping her hands inside the ball, Brown demonstrated gap-to-gap power. Brown collected 14 hits with two doubles, one triple, two bombs, swiped five bases, knocked in seven and scored 14 runs. In the field, Brown, a MIF, shows good instincts and hands that will play at the next level.

RHP Maura Chalupa (2023, Muscatine, Iowa) earned the MV-Pitcher award after leading her Southeast Iowa Allstars, 18u Gold Miller team to the championship. The uncommitted Chalupa tossed 19 innings and collected 31 strikeouts while topping out at 60 mph. Chalupa utilizes a strong lower half to generate her drive to the plate and can throw all her pitches for strikes, to either side of the plate. Having had the opportunity to see her pitch several times, she continues to impress me with her consistency and ability to hit her spots, seemingly at will.

Other ladies making some noise this weekend included RHP Chloe Mitchell (2023, Peru, Ill.). Utilizing a rise, drop curve and change to go along with her fastball, Mitchell worked 18 innings, collecting 25 strikeouts while only giving up one walk. Mitchell has a very easy motion, with no wasted movement and has plus movement on her spin pitches.

Jessica Clemons (2024, Bettendorf, Iowa), hitting from the right side of the plate, showed a balanced approach at the plate while collecting 11 hits that included three doubles and one triple. Clemons knocked in seven and scored six runs. Defensively, the MIF has tools that will allow her to make a seamless move to the next level.

Katie Petran (2023, Peoria, Ill.), a right-handed pitching Butler University commit, utilized a full arsenal of pitches to amass 30 punchouts in her 13 innings of work, while not allowing a walk. Petran sat at 62 mph and utilized the fastball to set up her spin pitches. Not one dimensional, Petran also had some fun at the plate, collecting nine hits that included three doubles and a home run. Petran scored five runs, had seven RBI and swiped four bases to round out her weekend.

Sydney Morris (2023, Ankeny, Iowa) showed the ability to play several positions for her Jag Select team, playing a corner, MIF and catching. At the plate Morris had 12 hits on the weekend to help her team reach the semis. Of her hits, five were for extra bases, with four doubles and a home run. Morris scored five runs, collected four RBI and did not strike out during the tournament.

Jags teammate Lauren Gustofson (2023, Ankeny, Iowa) was another key to her team’s success. The left-handed pitching Gustofson was in the circle for 20 innings of work and struck out 27 opposing batters. Gustofson, with a top velo of 56 mph, utilized a plus rise ball to get some big outs. Showing composure and mental toughness, Gustofson showed the ability to pitch out of trouble, keeping her team in games, giving them the opportunity to win.

Kori Needham (2023, Walcott, Iowa), a St. Cloud State commit, played outfield for Heartland Havoc 05 and her bat was a key contributor for their run to the finals. Needham, with an upright stance, has very little movement through load. She displays the ability to get the barrel to the ball in quick fashion, which should allow her more time to see the pitch and make swing adjustments as needed. Needham collected 10 hits, which included two doubles and a triple while knocking in 10, stealing five bases and scoring eight runs.

-Dave Durbala

Heartland Havoc ’07 was named the champions of the tournament overall in the 16u division. Highlighted and named MVP for the team was Kasey Kane (2025, Le Claire, Iowa). Going 11-for-16 over the weekend, Kane was trouble in Havoc's lineup as well as a leader on the defense. Kane had some great glove work, forehand and backhand at third base. Overall she took advantage of the weekend to show her stuff.

Runner-up Southeast IA Allstars 16u Gold- Hall’s very own Braylen Conlon (2025, Toddville, Iowa) was name MV-Pitcher. Conlon, as a LHP, showed a strong mix of pitches, as she worked every inch of the zone keeping the batters guessing where she was going next. She pitched consistently in the 57-59 mph range and ended the weekend with 11 2/3 innings pitched, tallying on 21 strikeouts.

Miah Berhenke (2026, Hampton, Ill.) has a solid and level barrel through the zone, as Saturday evening she guaranteed Nebraska Gold 309 the win with a walkoff drive painting the third base line. Berhenke has a confidence about her approach that continues to reflect the all-around player she is. Behind the plate she was a wall and showed her strength through her throw-downs.

Brenna George (2025, Dubuque, Iowa) with Lady Dukes 16u National- IL was also a big bat in this team's lineup, as she used her length well with her long swing of the bat to generate a lot of power throughout. She is a mature catcher for the team as well with strong wrist work, quick frames and speedy throw downs to all bases.

Fury Platinum National Liter’s Kelsey Armes (2026, Elwood, Ind.) was a wall behind the plate. Armes was quick to pop and react, as she had multiple diving catches for foul balls behind the plate to help her team out all she could. She was a voice you heard throughout the inning to lead her team in the next play. Her throw-downs will only gain more velocity as she matures.

Lauren Winters (2026, Stronghurst, Ill.) with Texas Glory 07- IL showed a wide range at shortstop. Winters wasn’t afraid to get “dirty” on the turf fields to keep the ball in the infield and hold runners from advancing, as well as making a few outs with those dives on line drive hits in her area. She has a strong glove on tags, leaving no doubt on the outs.

Madison McGrath (2024, Lincoln Park, Mich.) with T2 Shamrock 16u was the all-around slapper of the tournament. She batted in the two-hole and got the job done, whether it was a sacrifice or finding her way on. She has plus speed on the bases that builds up as she goes, and it shows with her three triples over the weekend. McGrath is quick out of the box and reads the field well with where to place her slap and what power to execute. Also utilizes her speed in the outfield to cover ground.

Nebraska Gold 515 16u came to play with a lot of consistent bats in their lineup. Leading the way was Keirah Wiseman (2025, Burlington, Iowa), going 11-for-17 in the box. She is a runner that will take advantage of an extra base when given the chance. Mylie Hatfield (2026, Ankeny, Iowa) was another constant in the line up with six RBI over the weekend, going 9-for-16. Being a pitcher, Hatfield used it to her advantage to adjust to the movement of pitches and drive the ball, giving herself some insurance while in the circle.

Anna Weathers (2025, Ankeny, Iowa), also with Nebraska Gold 515 16u, had a very confident approach at the plate and backed it up with her bat. Weathers went 11-for-19 with two singles, six doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs overall. Weathers kept great composure throughout every game no matter the score or situation she was in while in the box.

Tessa Gripp (2026, Indianola, Iowa) with Barracuda Aces 16u is a sound batter. Gripp has great strength off the bat to extend the distance of the ball. She went 5-for-10 over the weekend with three singles, a double and a home run. Gripp’s power will only become greater as she gets older. Great things ahead for this batter.

When Allison Lair (2024, West Des Moines, Iowa) was in the circle for Iowa Slammers- 18u Hallman, she was locked in, as there was no chatter distracting her no matter the volume. Lair kept her pitches in the 57-60 mph range. She worked every inch of the strike zone, keeping it out of batters' reach, especially her curveball hanging on the edge of the plate.

LHP Emily Watters (2023, Anamosa, Iowa), a Missouri Western State commit, does more than just have a mean screwball in the 57-60 mph range for Eastern Iowa Barracudas/ Vantiger. She can drive the ball in clutch situations. Saturday afternoon, Watters pulled a fake bunt hit and drove the ball to right-center resulting in an RBI triple to back herself up in the circle.

Sidney Spindel (2024, Geneoseo, Ill.) with Heartland Havoc 05 is a very disciplined batter when at the plate. She keeps her barrel level and solid through the zone to drive the ball to the green. Spindel uses her strength behind the plate as well with quick, powerful throw-downs. She is a barrier back there, keeping runners second guessing their choice to steal.

-Molly Reyes