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Softball  | Softball Showcase  | 9/30/2022

Elite 40 Minnesota Scout Notes

Dave Durbala      Rachel Klipper      Brianna Brooks     
Photo: Perfect Game
18u Division

In an all-Iowa final, the Iowa Bandits won the championship in the 18u Division with a 2-1 victory over Iowa Premier 18u Gold, behind the complete game pitching performance of Madison Oetzmann (2023, Urbandale, Iowa). Oetzmann scattered six hits over seven innings, giving up one earned run and striking out three. For the weekend, the uncommitted RHP was in the circle for 25 innings and struck out 17. Leading the offense for the Bandits was MVP Devin Simon (2023, Cascade, Iowa). Simon collected 11 hits that included two doubles and four bombs, knocking in five, scoring 13 runs and swiping nine bases. Seldom missing the barrel, Simon is aggressive from the first pitch and doesn’t ease up, even with two strikes. The University of Iowa commit also shows up on defense, displaying good glove work and a plus arm. The smooth fielding MIF puts herself in position to make plays and showed the ability to make strong and accurate throws from varied arm slots.

The MV-Pitcher award went to Leah Maro (2023, Davenport, Iowa) of Iowa Premier 18u Gold. Topping out at 60 mph, the RHP put in 23 innings of work in the circle amassing 33 strikeouts, including six in the championship game. The uncommitted Maro utilized a drop, changeup, low and high rise to go with her fastball, with the high rise earning her several swing-and-miss strikeouts. Maro did a good job of changing levels and speed and displayed a drop ball, with late movement, that had batters beating the pitch into the ground, relying on her defense to make several routine plays behind her.

Other athletes showing up included Iowa Bandits' Addison Banse (2023, Adel, Iowa), who hit in the middle of a loaded Bandits lineup to collect eight hits. Banse made the most of her hits with six being for extra bases, that included five doubles and a home run. Banse knocked in 10 runs and scored five times for her effort. Working from an open stance, Banse does a good job of getting back to parallel, keeping her front side closed and hitting from a firm front leg, with great use of the lower half. Listed as a catcher, Banse patrolled the outfield as the Bandits made their way to the championship. This versatility should offer Banse opportunities at the next level.

Signe Dohse (2023, Minnetonka, Minn.) made a big impression playing in her first Perfect Game Showcase with her 18u Minnesota Renegades National team. Dohse, a RHP, SS, and OF who recently committed to Northwestern University, did a little bit of everything, but what she did very well was hit. Dohse had 12 hits with three doubles, one triple and two bombs. Dohse gets great separation with her stride and activates her lower half driving forward and finishes her swing with good extension through the zone. Dohse topped out at 60 mph in the circle, striking out 10 in her nine innings of work. A true utility player, Dohse has the ability to hit at the next level and will make an impact.

Eastern Iowa Barracudas-Vantiger’s Emily Watters (2023, Anamosa, Iowa), has been featured in previous scout notes as a pitcher, but this weekend the Missouri Western commit is a top performing hitter. Hitting from the left side, Watters collected eight hits, that included two doubles and a triple. Watters knocked in three, swiped three bases and scored eight runs. At the plate, Watters appears to be at her best when staying on the ball and working middle to left-center. Besides driving the ball, Watters has the speed that allows her the opportunity to lay down a bunt if the defense does not honor her speed. Always looking to take extra bases, Watters aggressive base running puts pressure on the defense that oftentimes leads to defensive mistakes.

Skylar Benesh (2024, Walker, Iowa), another Eastern Iowa Barracudas-Vantiger player, enjoyed a good weekend at the plate. Hitting from the right side, Benesh, a MIF, sets up with a slightly wide base, picking up the front foot and to get weight shift, then placing the foot back down in the original starting spot to initiate swing. Benesh utilized a solid lower half to help her collect eight hits, driving the ball for a double and two home runs. Along with scoring five runs, Benesh knocked in eight and swiped two bases.

Lexi Ellis (2023, Indianola, Iowa) had a nice weekend in Minnesota. Playing for Iowa Premier 18u Gold, Ellis had nine hits, that included three doubles and two bombs, knocking in five and scoring four runs. Ellis also laid down a bunt that scored the winning run in ITB, to move her team into the semis. The left-handed hitting Ellis, starting with a wide base with slight knee bend, has very little movement pre-swing, with only a slight weight shift and push of the hands back to get some separation. From there she keeps her hands inside the ball, stays in her legs and utilizes a good lower half move to generate power. As with most lefties that drive the ball, Ellis appears to like the ball middle in and down. And from what she did this weekend, she doesn't miss too many barrels on that pitch.

In the circle, there were several standout performances. RHP Edie Cobb (2024, Hallsville, Mo.), pitching for Iowa Premier 18u Gold, was one such athlete. Cobb utilized a rise, drop and a plus changeup to collect 24 strikeouts in her 19 innings of work. Cobb’s fastball topped out at 58 mph, but her ability to pitch inside and get under the batter’s hands made it very effective. Cobb was able to change speeds and hit locations with all her pitches and utilized the rise to get several of her strikeouts.

RHP Haley Zembo (2023, Superior, Wis.), pitching for 18u Minnesota Renegades National, showed a variety of pitches while topping out with her fastball at 61 mph. Zembo utilized a drop, rise and rise curve to keep hitters off balanced. Zembo worked 18 innings in the circle and recorded 21 strikeouts, including a complete game, 11-strikeout performance to open pool play. Zembo, a Winona State commit, could make an immediate impact in the circle for the Warriors when she arrives on campus.

Megan Button (2025, Middleton, Wis.) earned the hard luck award this past weekend. Button, a RHP for Wisconsin Bandits Gold 18u-Heintz, scattered six hits, recorded four strikeouts, and did not allow an earned run in a 1-0 loss, in ITB, to eventual tournament finalist Iowa Premier 18u Gold. Button utilized a changeup, drop, curve and rise to go along with a 61 mph fastball to record 12 strikeouts in her 16 innings of work. Button is a pitch-to-contact type pitcher and will be successful when the defense is making plays behind her. Also, not wanting to be a pitcher only, Button collected seven hits that included three doubles and a home run, knocking in four. This young lady would appear to have a bright future, if this past weekend was any indication.

-Dave Durbala

16u Division

Although the weather did not show out this weekend, the undefeated Iowa Premier National 24/25 showed up and were crowned champions. The MV-Pitcher, Abby Rusher, and MV-Player, Mariah Myers, earned their title. Iowa Premier National was a tight-knit team that has played together for years and their bond showed in how the team as a whole could be triumphant and believe in each other. This team is full of young ladies that have all the potential to play at the next level.

Molly Kelly (2024, Greenville, Wis.) with Wisconsin Bandits 16U Kelly displayed strong range at shortstop, as she pushed to the limit and dove for anything near the gaps for an extra effort to stop anything close. For any steals she had a reliable glove for throws down at second. Her bat and baserunning matched her aggressive defense with strong and quick swings followed by a push to gain extra bases when the opportunity arose.

5-foot-9 RHP Susan Vokes (2025, Fond Du Lac, Wis.) with Wisconsin Bandits 16U Kelly shined on the mound consistently over the course of multiple games. She hits her spots with control of her pitches with an average of 60 mph. She is often a pitcher you can count on to get the job done and ensure a win. Just as her pitching, her bat is consistent with barreled hits to the gaps in the grass. Pitcher and hitter, she has great potential for a good future at the next level.

LHP Braylen Conlon (2025, Toddville, Iowa) with Southeast IA Allstars 16U Gold-Hall uses her long legs to get some speed and movement behind her pitches. Her natural athletic ability shines through in all aspects of the game. She hustles, whether it be on and off the field or in position to back her teammates on key plays in the game. She follows up with her communication with her team to keep them up or to let them know what to expect as opponents are rounding the bases.

Catcher Avery Dorman (2025, Sioux Falls, S.D.) with Sd Renegades National stood out immensely behind the plate. With an athletic build and hustle, she is made to have favorable success as she continues to grow as a player. She backs her first baseman on plays when able to and is always moving on each play to be in the spot she may need to be in. She frames for strikes on top of setting herself to stay on top of anything her pitcher throws at her. She sets herself up for success each time behind the plate, to be ahead of the opponent for any steals followed by an accurate and quick arm that often leads to an out.

5-foot-10 RHP Maddy Anthony (2025, Oakdale, Minn.) with MN Magic 16U National had a challenging range of her pitches that was anywhere from 50 to 60 mph. Even with her range and speed, she presents power behind her pitches as she explodes off the mound.

Jadyn Woods (2026, Des Moines, Iowa) with Southeast IA Allstars 16U Gold-Jones catches the eye with her intensely quick swing and the ability to quickly make a change in her swing. As an athletically built lefty, it is often a surprise to the opponent to find out that she is a power hitter. For the tournament she hit two out of the park on top of one triple and only one strikeout for the entire tournament. As a key outfielder in center field, she is quick to the ball followed by a speedy transition.

Kaylee Mescher (2025, Ames, Iowa) with Central Iowa Riptide Elite was a wall behind the plate with a quick jump to prevent pass balls. She sees to it that her pitcher is set up for a victory at the plate. Her glove was exceptional when it came to framing for strikes.

5-foot-9 RHP Abby Rusher (2024, Des Moines, Iowa) with Iowa Premier National 24/25 was named MV-Pitcher of the tournament and her endless hard work at the mound showed all the tournament. She is a 5-star pitcher, consistently exhibiting a long and explosive stride, the right touch of movement in her pitches, accuracy, and best of all, consistently in all of this. As a pitcher, her potential is massive in seeing her at the next level. She had a total of 42 strikeouts and only one walk for the tournament.

Mariah Myers (2025, Fort Dodge, Iowa) with Iowa Premier National 24/25 was named MVP of the tournament. She was an all-around key offensive and defensive player for her team with consistency at the plate and in the field. At the plate she is patient for her pitch to ensure it is in her favor for hard hit line drives in the gaps. Her swing is aggressive when her pitch comes her way but is able to make adjustments when needed based on placement of a pitch. Her aggressive play on the ball carries to the field as she has an early jump on the ball if it is even near her position.

-Rachel Klipper

14u Division

Eleven teams in the 14U division were guaranteed five games to prove what they’ve got with the hopes of getting eyes on them. Iowa took over the state of Minnesota, with two Iowa organizations taking home titles. Iowa Premier National 09 takes home the jewels and the heavyweight belt, going undefeated in pool play, blowing out the other teams 33-8.

Taryn Stoner (2027, Grimes, Iowa) led her team to victory as a LHP for Iowa Premier National 09. In 17 innings, Stoner was successful in 25 strikeouts. This eighth grader has a bright future, already tossing 56-58 mph. Stoner has a strong multi-pitch repertoire with an elite ability to move the ball both horizontally with a jumping rise and vertically with both a slicing curve and a screw that jams any right-handed batter. This LHP can switch it up and take off significant speed with a changeup that leaves batters whiffing. Stoner rightfully was named MV-Pitcher for the 14U division and is guaranteed a spot in the circle at the collegiate level.

Teammate Kate Sandvick (2027, Marshalltown, Iowa) for Iowa Premier National 09 is a disciplined lefty, stepping in the box with the hard mindset of making things happen. This young hitter batted over .400, walking four times and scoring seven times. Sandvick is an aggressive runner, taking two bases on a walk and challenging defenses to make an error and then attacking. In a single walk, Sandvick scored after stealing second and causing an error. Sandvick is truly an athlete. As a second baseman, Sandvick has a good glove and great hustle, moving well in the middle infield.

Jlee Van Driel (2027, Monroe, Neb.) for Iowa Premier National 09 is also a lefty hitter with the skills to take the outside pitch to opposite field. Van Driel presents great hands to the ball, driving lines to all areas of the field. An absolute competitor, she batted over .600, with 11 singles, scoring 10 times and assisting in three. Van Driel led the tournament around the bases, stealing what she could take eight times. If you know anything about Iowa Premier National 09, it’s that they are all highly aggressive baserunners, each with high runner’s IQ.

MV-Player for the 14U division was Ava Rigdon (2028, Davenport, Iowa), a middle infielder and hitter for Southeast IA Allstars 14U Gold-Brandenburg. This leadoff hitter is scrappy, earning a batting average well over .700, collecting 12 hits on the weekend, each ranging in depth and location. Rigdon helped the cause, assisting in 15 runs for the Allstars.

Teammate Addison Ellis (2028, Charles City, Iowa), a LHP for Southeast IA Allstars 14U Gold-Brandenburg, works high in the zone, capitalizing on a lively riseball that jumps through the zone, resulting in 37 strikeouts in 23 innings, leading the tournament in strikeouts. Ellis worked consistently in the 54-58 mph range, and at 12 years old, this athlete is a huge prospect for collegiate softball if she continues to work on her craft.

Minnesota Dynamite had a successful start to the weekend, going 4-0 in pool play, outscoring opponents 35-2. Leading the way is RHP Keura Roloff (2026, Apple Valley, Minn.). Roloff has a four-plus pitch mix, working in the 52-54 mph range with a breaking rise and control over the zone. Roloff finds the rivers, leaving batters chasing. Through 16 innings, she sat down 29 batters, earning a 1.29 WHIP. Equally as impressive is her performance in the box. This two-way player batted .538, collecting seven runs, assisting in eight RBI.

Lola Herman (2027, Richfield, Minn), a catcher for Minnesota Dynamite, is aggressive and eager to get the next out. Herman has great framing techniques, helping stretch the zone for her pitcher. As an eighth grader, Herman already shows true potential with solid blocking fundamentals.

Mackenzie Darsow (2028, Cottage Grove, Minn.), a RHP for Minnesota Force 14U Buffington, works an arsenal of pitches through the zone, capitalizing on a drop curve that clips the outside corner, leaving batters falling short. In nine innings, Darsow earned 16 strikeouts. She is an impressive seventh grader with serious strength, hurling in 57-59 mph. Darsow has an exciting future in the game as she continues to grow and strengthen her skills.

Auden Anderson (2026, St. Peter, Minn.), a slugger for Minnesota Waves – Beech, has a disciplined approach with high zone awareness, walking three times. Anderson is patient in the box, only swinging at her pitch. Once it’s given, she makes great connection with a true bat path, finishing with a slight lift. Anderson has a strong lower half taking the ball to all depths of the field.

Tiv Kennedy (2026, Carver, Minn.) with Mission 14U National has big pull-side power with an elite cut and strong lower half. Kennedy possesses a fantastic feel for the barrel, generating above-average pop. Kennedy batted well over .700 this weekend, collecting five hits in seven at-bats, including one home run over the center field fence. As a freshman, Kennedy is well on her way to collegiate softball.

Teagen Sturm (2028, Lennox, S.D.), an outfielder for SD Renegades National, made a big catch deep in center field in a high pressure, tied ball game. Sturm has great tracking ability, staying behind the ball, and stretching to make the catch. A true athlete with elite speed, this hitter has a discipline approach, jumping on her pitch, and running out five base hits this weekend. Sturm consistently gets on base, walking three times, scoring five, and pushing in two runs.

Anna Simunek (2027, Sioux Falls, S.D.), a shortstop for SD Renegades National, has smooth fielding with a quick transfer and a strong arm across the field. You can count on Simunek in any high stakes game, including a late game at-bat, where she smacked the ball to the left field fence for a two-run double to tie the game. This competitor went 5-for-10 at the plate, assisting in six runs.

Natalie Danna (2027, Shakopee, Minn.), a RHP for 14U Minnesota Renegades National, is a challenge in the circle. Danna pumps out 56-57 mph velocity with a ton of movement through the zone. This young hurler has a killer rise that jumps and an incredible flip change that cuts off 10 mph, leaving batters fooled. Danna is a true two-way player, helping herself at the plate with two homers over the center field fence.

-Brianna Brooks