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Softball  | Softball Tournament  | 3/6/2024

PG Softball March Madness

Dave Durbala     

BURLINGTON, IA - 2024 Perfect Game Softball March Madness Tournament, March 1-3, 2024, hosted by Fun City Turf. Twenty-two teams, across the 14u and 18u divisions converged on Burlington, IA in pursuit of earning a championship that brings with it bragging rights, a championship banner and the coveted PG bling, in the form of  a ring to show off to friends and family. In the end, it was Top Gun 2010 Stl and Iowa Nationals 16u taking home the titles, and the bling, with the championships in the 14u and 18u divisions. Below are recaps of some of the tournament's top performers.


14U Division


Earning the MV-Pitcher Award was Allana Benoit (2028 Carver, MN), of finalist MN Waves 13U National. To say the Waves travel light might be an understatement, and after an injury to the team's only other pitcher, Benoit became the workhorse. The RHP, showing a repeatable smooth and consistent delivery, working with a four pitch mix of fastball, change-up, rise and drop, tallied 17.1 innings, sitting down 20 batters via strikeout. With her fastball topping out at 59 mph, Benoit showed the ability to move the ball throughout the zone, using location to keep hitters from  barrelling up the ball, and utilizing the change-up to upset timing. This young lady showed a lot of determination, resilience, and mental toughness while competing under the circumstances her and her teammates were faced with,  and was almost able to carry the Waves to the championship title.


MVP Award winner, Lorelai Kellner (2028 Wright City, MO) is aRHH for tournament champion Top Gun 2010 Stl.  Kellner, who sets up in the box in an open stance, getting deep into her legs, and utilizes a stride to gain separation and for timing, only picked up four hits, but they included two doubles and two home runs, showing pull-side power. She scored six times, knocked in five and also drew a couple of free passes. In the circle, Kellner works with a four pitch bag of fastball, change-up, rise and curve. She worked 3.2 innings, allowed two hits, one earned run, and struck out three, while topping out at 58 mph. Kellner’s best at bat didn’t involve one of her home runs, it was a simple ground ball out to the right-side of the infield that moved a runner from 2nd to 3rd. That runner then scored when the next batter hit a ground ball out to short, championship game final score, 1-0.


Other players turning in top performances include Alyanna Nelson (2027 Davenport, IA) playing for Southeast Ia Allstars 14u Purple, The RHP/SS, hitting from the right-side sets up in an open, slightly wide stance, She makes a pre-pitch move to get to parallel, with weight transferring to the back side, and then launches from this position with a little, if any stride. Showing good use of her lower half and a line drive attack angle, Nelson displayed pull-side power with a couple of back to back no-doubters to open up bracket play. On the weekend, Nelson collected eight hits, including a double and three home runs, knocked in 11, did not record a strike out and finished with a .800 batting average. In the circle, topping out at 56 mph, Nelson worked 8.2 innings, struck out four and only allowed one earned run. This young lady will be an interesting follow over the next few years.


Rhylann Lessenger (2028 Fruitland, IA), hitting from the right-side for Monsters 14u, stays erect in the box, slightly open, utilizing a stride to gain separation and to generate momentum towards launch. Displaying gap to gap pop, Lessenger collected 10 hits that included four doubles. She was able to score six runs, knock in two, swipe three bases and did not strike out, to help her finish with a .625 batting average.  Helping her team in the circle, Lessenger, armed with a fastball, change-up and curve, worked seven innings and picked up five strikeouts, while topping out at 59 mph.


Don’t let the size of Cabell Palmer (2029 Kahoka, MO) fool you, this young lady swings a big bat for Black Dragons 14u Arrowood.  Listed at 4 feet 4 inches tall, Palmer loads into the box in a narrow stance, feet nearly touching. She lifts the front foot pre-pitch, to get weight to the back side,  then strides for timing and separation. Her hips drive forward and at toe touch she is initiating a big daddy hack. Collecting seven hits, that included two home runs, she scored two times, and totalled seven rbi’s. Even with her aggressive swing, she did not record a strike out and ended the weekend with a .700 batting average.


Anna Strange (2028 O’Fallon, MO) is a RHH infielder for tournament champion Top Gun 2010 Stl. Utilizing a solid base with a slightly open stance, Strange pushes, with a low leg kick, to get weight transferred to the back side before striding to get to toe touch. She works her hands inside the ball, utilizing a nice tilt to get her barrel on plane and good turn to get it through the zone. For her efforts, Strange picked up six hits with two doubles, scored eight runs, knocked in four, worked the pitcher for three free passes, and did not strike out, to  finish the tournament hitting at a .667 clip.


Estella Bowman (2029 Des Moines, IA) is a RHP for Iowa Aries Ce. Bowman utilizes a very slow and deliberate motion to get stacked into her legs to start the drive phase of her delivery. She comes into the circle with a four pitch mix of fastball, change-up, rise and curve and topped out at 59 mph. In her 13.1 innings of work, Bowman collected 13 strikeouts by showing the ability to spot her fastball and change speed to keep hitters off balanced. Although allowing eight base on balls, Bowman was able to work out of jams and only allowed three earned runs.


Ava Dixon (2028 Foley, MO) is a RHP for tournament champion Top Gun 2010 Stl. Displaying a consistent motion and arm swing, with solid use of her lower half in the drive phase, Dixon went to work with a five pitch bag of fastball, change-up, curve, rise and drop. With the ability to throw to both sides of the plate, Dixon picked up 13 strikeouts in her nine innings of work, that included her five inning, five hit, six strikeout shut-out in the championship game. Topping out at 58 mph, Dixon would project to pick up additional velocity as she matures and gains strength, which would also increase her spin rate for increased movement and sharper break. Although giving up six free passes and six hits,  Dixon finished the tournament with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.


Another pitcher doing work was Blayke Frownfelter (2028 O’Fallon, MO), a RHP for Top Gun 27/28 Stl. With a top velocity of 60 mph, Frownfelter displays a fluid motion, with good use of her lower half, utilizing a slight leap that generates momentum and arm speed. Working with a five pitch mix of fastball, change-up, curve, screw and rise, Frownfelter was in the circle for six innings and struck out eight. Consistently working around the plate, she allowed two hits, gave up one base on balls, and surrendered two earned runs to finish with a 0.50 WHIP.  Already possessing some next level tools, as this young lady matures, with continued work on her craft, she will be a good follow,  that could generate lots of interest.


Lola Seawel (2028 Saint Louis, MO) is another young pitcher that displayed next level tools in the circle for tournament championTop Gun 2010 Stl. Seawel, a RHP, showed a mechanically sound motion and delivery, with consistent release point in her 5.2 innings of work. Armed with a six pitch bag of fastball, change-up, rise, curve screw and drop, Seawel moved the ball throughout the zone with her movement pitches to keep hitters off-balanced, and was able to spot her fastball to either side of the plate. For her efforts, Seawel sat down ten batters via strike out, allowed two hits, walked four and gave up one earned run to finish with a 1.20 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.


18U Division


Earning the MV-Pitcher Award was Lauren Hagedorn (2026 Adel, IA), a RHP for tournament champion Iowa Nationals 16u. Displaying a repeatable delivery with solid use of her lower half, consistent release and quick arm whip, Hagedorn went to work with a five pitch mix of fastball, change-up, rise, curve and screw. With a top velocity of 63 mph, she showed the ability to spot her pitches, showing solid late movement on her curve and a change-up that she could throw for strikes. In her 11.1 innings of work, Hagedorn sat down 21 batters via strike out, allowed eight hits, gave up four base on balls, but did not allow an earned run, finishing with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. This young lady, one of the top 2026 arms in Iowa, has a next level skill set, and with continued work on her craft will only improve over the next couple of years.


Jordyn Kennedy (2026 Ankeny, IA) earned the MVP Award, playing for tournament champion Iowa Nationals 16u. Starting with a wide stance,  with weight on her front foot, Kennedy rocks into her back leg to transfer weight and gain separation. Without taking a stride, or just picking the foot up and setting it back down, she takes an aggressive bat path through the zone, although sometimes stopping her swing just after contact. There is no denying Kennedy is strong and generates lots of pop, but she also is a very disciplined hitter, not chasing pitches when it is obvious pitchers are trying to work around her. For the weekend, she picked up seven hits, that included a double and two no-doubt bombs. She scored six runs, knocked in eight, drew four walks and did not record a strike out, to finish with a .875 batting average and an even more impressive .917 OBP.  This young lady has next level power and skill set.


Also turning in some top performances was Katie Pilcher (2025 Cedar Rapids, IA), playing for Southeast Ia Allstars 18u Blue. Pilcher, hitting from the right-side, sets up in a slightly open and wide stance, sitting into the legs. With very little movement she pushes the hands back to get separation, then drives the hips forward, with minimal stride to launch. She gets the barrel through the zone, with an aggressive attack angle and shows good extension and follow-through. In collecting five hits, that included three home runs, she scored five times and knocked in seven. Pilcher, a true utility player, with the ability to play any position but pitcher, would give coaches at the next level several options to help fill their rosters.


Sophia Miller (2026 Peosta, IA) is a MIF for Lady Expos Hs Red, hitting from the right-side. Miller loads into the box with a slightly open stance, rocking back to get weight transferred and then utilizes a small stride for timing and to get separation. Utilizing a solid move with her lower half, she works her hands inside the ball, using the whole field and showing gap to gap power. On the weekend, picking up six hits that included two doubles and three home runs, Miller scored three times, knocked in six and finished with a .545 batting average.


Rhiannon Rees (2026 Grinnell, IA),was with a different team this weekend but had the same results, making the top performers list in back to back tournaments. The LHH Rees, playing for Nebraska Gold 319-Berning, sets up slightly wide, then slowly gathers to the back foot, prior to stride to start the launch phase. At toe touch, Rees does a good job of getting back to parallel and utilizing a hand path that keeps her hands inside the ball, she is able to effectively work the ball gap to gap. For her efforts, Rees picked up six hits that included 4 doubles and one home run, scored five times, knocked in six and did not strike out, finishing with a .857 batting average.


Samantha Gripp (2027 Indianola, IA), playing for tournament champion Iowa Nationals 16u, came to life during bracket play. Loading into the box with a solid set up, Gripp utilizes a leg kick to get weight transferred, for timing and to gain separation. She showed quick hands and an aggressive attack angle in picking up five hits, which included her going 4 for 4 during the semi-final and final rounds of bracket play. Gripp finished the weekend with two home runs, scored four runs, knocked in seven, swiped three bases and worked pitchers for a couple of free passes. This young lady will be an interesting follow to see how she develops as a player as she matures and gains strength.


Braylen Conlon (2025 Toddville, IA) is a LHP for Southeast Ia Allstars 18u Blue. Conlon, a recent Western Kentucky University commit, displayed a fluid easy motion, with good use of her lower half and consistent delivery in her 11.2 innings of work.  Armed with a five pitch bag of fastball, change-up, curve, drop and rise, and a top velocity of 63 mph, Conlon struck out 26 batters, allowed four hits, gave up one walk and only allowed one earned run.  Showing both vertical and horizontal movement, Conlon was able to keep hitters off balance and not allow too many balls to get squared up, and for her effort she finished with a 0.60 ERA and a 0.43 WHIP.


Olivia Dougherty (2024 Norwalk, IA) is a RHP for Norwalk Warriors Softball. Showing a repeatable smooth delivery, Dougherty has recently tweaked her delivery to take advantage of the new pitching regulations, and incorporated a leap into her drive phase, which has increased her velocity to 64 mph. In her eight innings in the circle, working with a six pitch mix of fastball, change-up, rise, drop curve, curve and off-speed, Dougherty sat down 19 batters via strikeout. She allowed five hits, gave up three walks and allowed three earned runs. This young lady, an Iowa Western Community College commit, should have an immediate impact for the Reivers when getting on campus this Fall.


Grace Pence (2026 Albia, IA) was the workhorse of the Southern Iowa Savage pitching crew, putting in 15.1 innings of work in the circle. Pence, a RHP, displayed a compact motion with consistent arm swing, and good use of her lower half, utilizing a slight leap in her drive phase to top out at 61 mph. Showing hitters five pitches that included a fastball, change-up, drop, drop curve, and rise, Pence struck out 22 batters for her effort. At times struggling with control, giving up eight free passes, Pence could usually battle her way out of jams and get out of trouble. Although already showing some advanced skill set,  if this young lady continues to work on her craft,  gaining strength and experience as she matures over the next few years, she will be afforded the opportunity to play at the next level.


Madison Kluever (2024 Charlotte, IA) is a RHP for Southeast Ia Allstars 18u Blue. Kluever, a Des Moines Area Community College commit, showed a repeatable motion with consistent delivery and release point during her 7.1 innings in the circle. Working with a fastball, change-up, drop, rise and curve, Kluever struck out 15 batters and showed a top velocity of 63 mph. Displaying the ability to throw all her pitches for strikes, she also showed hitters a change-up that was very well hidden, that had hitters way out front or completely buckled up in the knees. Allowing seven hits, not giving up a free pass, and allowing three earned runs, Kluever finished with a 0.95 WHIP for her efforts.