As promised the Hot Corner while keeping up to date and shining a light on the local softball scene in the area will also feature looks into the elite level of softball. And about an hour and a half northwest of YSN Headquarters in a town called Willoughby, there’s an elite talent that we’ll be seeing on national TV. That elite talent is none other than future Missouri Tiger Riley Frizell.
Riley played for Willoughby South High School In Willoughby. To say she had a successful high school career would be an understatement. Riley holds the Willoughby career softball records in single-season HR (14), single-season RBI (58), single-season batting average (.634), career HR (32), and career RBI (149). She was a three-time conference player of the year, and in her junior season, she was a Gatorade Player of the Year. She ranks 13th in Ohio in career HRs.
All these numbers are a credit to an unwavering work ethic through her high school career. Riley was already committed to Missouri before stepping on to a high school field. She didn’t have to worry about impressing coaches or getting exposure. She just had to prove to herself and others that she could back up a commitment to an SEC school. This meant that Riley didn’t necessarily have a “normal childhood.” While other girls her age would spend free time watching tv or hanging out, Riley was hitting, traveling, fine-tuning her craft so she could always be at her best.
Riley made the decision that she wanted to represent her community and her school. She had every opportunity to go play high school softball at a big private school where she would get the best competition. No one would have thought twice about it, someone that talented is supposed to play at those types of schools. But Riley was determined to play her high school career at Willoughby. She wanted to play with girls she grew up with, and she wanted to build up their program. That’s what made the cancelation of her senior season so hard to accept. The Willoughby South Rebels were on the cusp of something special. They were poised to make a deep tournament run. And now they’ve been stripped of that opportunity by COVID-19. One of Riley’s teammates and fellow seniors saw her softball career come to an end. Riley’s advice was to just treasure the memories. That’s what she has to do as well.
With no high school season, Riley found herself in what was supposed to a laid back summer getting ready to start at Missouri but instead a summer that required as many live at-bats as possible to stay sharp. Riley turned to the Ohio Outlaws Demarini-White team. A couple of players on the roster had played with Riley before, so she was familiar with the level of competition. That roster has a couple of members of the YSN family on it including Bree Kohler from South Range and Sophie Howell from Champion. It’s an abnormal summer in the softball world but Riley, along with everyone else has to take full advantage of what is available. As the summer goes on Riley will step into a much bigger stage. She has been named a PGF All American. She will compete in the PGF All American game on Saturday, August 1st on ESPNU. She’ll be on the East team and she’ll be playing with a roster full of SEC, PAC-12, and BIG12 talent. It’s Riley’s first step on to the national stage of softball.
After that, it’s all about the Missouri Tigers. Riley joins the 28th ranked recruiting class in Missouri. The Tigers looked very sharp this season before the shutdown. Missouri had an impressive 19-7 record and started SEC play with a sweep of Ole Miss. This season the NCAA decision would have kept the Tigers out of the postseason, but all signs point to that ban being lifted for 2021. With a tremendous incoming class, Missouri promises to be a national contender. Riley promises that they will get to a Women’s College World Series Before she’s done in Missouri. Head Coach Larissa Anderson had this to say about Riley in Missouri’s press release announcing their incoming class “Riley is going to be a force, and make an impact right away. She has amazing power and some of the best bat speed I’ve seen. Riley is a Player we want in the lineup every day.” When an SEC coach says Riley’s bat speed is elite to the point where it might be the best she’s seen, I tend to believe her. I had the privilege to watch Riley play for the Outlaws, and I agree. Her bat speed is unreal. I would put it up there with hitters like Sierra Romero, who I’ve seen quite a bit. Riley is ranked as the 37th 2020 recruit in the country by ExtraInnings Softball, who is at the forefront at evaluating talent at the youth level.
With Taran Alvelo from Carrol doing her thing at Washington and pitching in the championship series, to Erin Gabriel from Poland pitching at Tennessee and also going to the WCWS, and now with Riley who promises to be an instant impact for a very talented Missouri team, Ohio is quickly becoming a hotbed of elite softball talent.
I had the chance to catch with Riley and bring her into the Hot Corner as a special guest. As a fan of what Missouri is doing with their softball program and getting to know some of their past players like Sami Fagan, Emily Crane, Amanda Sanchez, and Chelsea Thomas, this was an honor to interview someone who could very easily put her name on the list with the above-mentioned players. So without further ado, get to know the future Missouri Tiger and pride of Willoughby, Riley Frizell.