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Softball  | Softball Tournament  | 3/12/2024

Perfect Game Softball Shamrock Showdown

Dave Durbala     

BURLINGTON, IA - 2024 Perfect Game Softball Shamrock Showdown, March 9-10, 2024. Sixteen teams, split evenly between the 12u and 14u divisions, arrived at the Fun City Turf to stake their claim as tournament champion.  In the end, it was Nebraska Gold 309 winning the 12u Division, and in double International Tie-Breaker, it was Wisconsin Lightning 2010 edging out Hitting Center 2010 by a score of 3-2 for the 14u title.  From all indications of the talent on display this weekend, softball will continue to thrive for years to come.

12U Division

Although I was not scouting the 12u division, I did want to mention the outstanding performances put in by a few of these younger athletes. Earning the MVP Award was Lilyanna Reyna (2029 Moline, IL), a RHH for tournament champion Nebraska Gold 309. Reyna stays tall in the box, shows solid use of her lower half, and works the ball to all fields. On the weekend, Reyna led the tournament in hits with seven, that included 2 doubles and a home run. She also led the field in rbi’s, with an impressive 10 runs knocked in and also scored 2 runs. She also helped her team in the circle, tossing eight innings and striking out 19 batters, while only allowing 2 earned runs.

Sophia Anderson (2030 Andalusia, IL) was named the tournament MV-Pitcher for tournament finalist Heartland Havoc 12.  Anderson, a RHP and workhorse of the staff, showed a smooth consistent delivery while offering hitters  a mix of pitches that included a fastball, change-up, curve, drop and two-seam.  In her 15 innings of work, she sat down a steller 34 batters via strike out, and only allowed 2 earned runs to finish with a 0.90 ERA for her effort.

Addilyn Brandenburg (2029 Burlington, IA) is a R/R middle infielder for Mudd Dawgs 11, who showed good consistency and discipline  at the plate, in picking up six hits on the weekend. With hits that included a double and triple, Brandenburg scored five runs, knocked in two, swiped three bases and finished with a tournament leading .857 batting average.

Estella Bowman (2029 Des Moines, IA) is a RHP for Nebraska Gold 309. With a deliberate motion and delivery, Bowman showed hitters a fastball, change-up, rise and curve, and in her 9.2 innings of work she was able to strike out 21 batters. Bowman,  consistently around the plate, allowed 3 hits, gave up two free passes and did not allow an earned run, to finish with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.52 WHIP.

14U Division

MV-Pitcher Award went to Leona Eichholz (2028 Harvard, IL) of tournament champion Wisconsin Lightning 2010. Eichholz, a RHP, utilizing a repeatable delivery, with consistent arm swing and release, showed hitters a six pitch mix of fastball, knuckle change, rise, drop, screw and curve, with a top recorded velocity of 65 mph. In her 17.1 innings of work, Eichholz sat down 46 batters via strike out, allowed one hit, gave up six base on balls and did not allow an earned run, finishing with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.40 WHIP.  In the championship final, her most impressive outing, Eichholz worked 8 innings, struck out 20 and did not allow a hit to secure the win for her Lightning team.  At the plate, Eichholz was equally as impressive, picking up five hits, with 3 doubles, scoring five runs and knocking in four. This young lady’s name will be on several Power 5 coaches recruiting boards, and rightfully so, as she is one of the premier arms in her class, and will be on several Class of 2028  watch lists.

MVP Award winner, McKynna Szymandera (2028 Racine, WI), is a RHH 1B for tournament champion Wisconsin Lightning 2010. Setting up slightly wide, feet basically parallel, Szymandera leans into the back leg to transfer weight and then utilizes a strong lower half to generate power, with her tilt setting her attack angle, she works her hands inside the ball displaying the ability to work the ball to all fields, with power. Szymandera picked up six hits, which included two doubles and two home runs, she scored seven runs and knocked in seven for the weekend. 

Rachel Dahl (2029 Poplar Grove, IL) is a RHH playing for tournament champion Wisconsin Lightning 2010. Setting up in the box, Dahl has a slightly open stance and pushes the front side back to get weight transferred, before striding to gain separation and generate momentum. Working the ball to all fields, Dahl picked up five hits, which included three doubles. She scored three runs, totalled seven rbi’s and did record a strikeout.

Jemma Lamb (2029 Chatham, IL) is a LHH for tournament finalist Hitting Center 2010. Starting from an open stance, sitting into legs, Lamb can either shift weight, stride and drive the ball, utilizing a solid lower half, or elect to move the feet and travel through the box for a slap or bunt. For her efforts, Lamb was able to pick up a tournament leading eight hits, which included 2 doubles. She scored five times and collected 4 rbi’s, finishing with a .615 batting average. 

Delilah Miles (2029 Garden City, MO) is a RHH for KC Rebels 2011-Olsen, who, if you're only going to pick up a couple of hits, you might as well make them bombs. Setting up in the box with a slightly open stance, Miles sits into her legs, and then leans into the back side for weight transfer. Utilizing her lower half to generate momentum, her torso tilt to establish an attack angle, Miles showed she was able to drive the ball out of the yard, scoring two runs and knocking in six with her two home runs.

Kendall Edmonson (2028 Rochester, IL), playing for tournament finalist Hitting Center 2010, is a RHP that displayed a smooth motion and delivery, with good use of her legs in the drive phase. Working with a four pitch mix of fastball, change-up, curve and rise, Edmonson tossed eight innings, recording a top velocity of 58 mph. Keeping batters off balanced with good use of her change-up, and showing hitters a crispy, late moving curve that she threw to both sides of the plate, Edmonson struck out 16, allowed four hits, gave up 3 base on balls and only allowed one earned run, to finish with a 0.90 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.

Jaelyn Moritz (2028 Streator, IL) is another RHP for tournament finalist Hitting Center 2010. Moritz brought into the circle a six pitch bag of fastball, change-up, rise, drop, curve and screw, showing a top velocity of 60 mph. This young lady experienced some mechanical issues during pool play and did not have her best outing.   Moritz, not allowing that performance to affect the rest of the tournament,  was able to flush the system and have an outstanding Sunday.  Showing nice movement on her curve, and a rise that hitters chased out of the zone, Moritz pitched a semi-final win, and made a relief appearance in the finals, to finish bracket play with 7.2 innings, collecting 11 strikeouts, giving up one base on balls and allowing two earned runs.

Skylar Shepard (2029 Olathe, KS) was one of the younger arms in the tournament, playing up an age division, but it didn’t show. Displaying a consistent, repeatable motion and delivery, Shepard, a RHP, worked with a simple three pitch mix of fastball, change-up and curve. Although topping out at 57 mph, Shepard did not shy away from throwing inside to challenge hitters, which usually resulted in handle shot, weak ground balls.  Working nine innings, Shepard struck out 11, walked two and gave up three earned runs. To her credit, Shepard opened up bracket play facing the eventual tournament champions, and in four innings of work she only allowed two hits, struck out four and gave up one earned run.

Lainey Lessman (2028 Hillsboro, IL), a RHP for Black Widows 14u, showed that you can be successful in the circle, without a top velocity fastball, with pitch location, change of speed and movement. Armed with a five pitch bag of fastball, change-up, rise, curve and screw, Lessman went to work keeping hitters off balanced and guessing. In her four innings of work, Lessman sat down nine batters via strike out, allowed one hit, gave up four free passes, and did not give up an earned run, to finish with a 0.00 ERA and respectable 1.07 WHIP.