Tag Archive for: NCAA Softball


LOUISVILLE OH- If you watched Louisville softball over the last two seasons you would quickly discover that there’s something special on their roster. Matti Benson made her name known as one of the best softball players in the area, and in Louisville’s program history. After an impressive 2022 spring, and a productive summer in travel ball, Benson has found a future home at the next level.  Benson will be heading to the Big Ten to be a Maryland Terrapin.  Benson was highly recruited this off-season being seen on college visits at tons of power five programs.  In the end it was Maryland that made the biggest impact, and that’s where she will continue her athletic and academic career.  Benson was ranked 27th in the class of 2024 by Extra Innings Softball.



AUSTINTOWN OH- Ayla Ray was one of the most electric softball players in the area in 2021. After following that up with an impressive summer travel season, Ayla has found a home to end her recruitment. Ray has officially made the decision to continue her academic and athletic career at Youngstown State University.

In 26 games played in the 2022 softball season for Fitch, Ray hit .591.  She had 52 hits in 88 at bats and also gathered 18 RBI.  She was almost an automatic run when on the base paths scoring 48 times on the season.  Ray also was an elite defender surrendering only 2 errors at shortstop and ending with a fielding percentage of .944.  Ray is going into her junior year at Fitch with a lot of momentum, and softball fans everywhere can’t wait to see what she does next.


AUSTINTOWN OH- Austintown Fitch standout catcher McKenna Hogan has been a staple for the Falcons during her career, and a big name in the local softball community. She has worked harder than anyone to achieve her goal of getting to play softball at the next level. Now, her dream is becoming a reality. She has made the decision to commit to Notre Dame College to continue her academic and athletic career.

in her statement on social media McKenna had this to say. “I want to thank my Mom, Dad and my brother Garrett for always being there to support me and always being there for me whenever I needed them. I
want to thank Coach Kim, Coach Nikki and Coach Ed for providing an environment where my love of softball started. You have always believed in my abilities even when I didn’t. I would not be
here without your love and coaching. You will always be my family. Thank you Coach Ward, Coach Becky and Coach Bob for allowing me to grow at Fitch and
always believing in me. Thank you for always raising the bar and holding us accountable. To Dan tor helping me believe in myself in the weight room and
on the field. You are missed by all of us. I want to thank all of my friends and teammates for always having my back and being there for me. With that
being said, I am extremely proud and excited to announce that | will be continuing my Academic and Athletic career at Notre Dame College. I cannot thank Coach Stopp and Coach Coleman enough for having faith and confidence in me and allowing me to continue my dream of playing collegiate softball. I am so proud to be a part of your Falcon family. I
guess it’s true, once a Falcon.”

McKenna also came on to YSN’s Running Point to talk with Anthony Hartwig and Scottie Mincher about her decision, what went into it, and how excited she is for the future.



EAST PALESTINE OH- It’s the greatest time of year for softball fans not just in the valley, but nation wide! Not only are the Ohio state tournaments in the regional stage, the NCAA tournament has been wicked down to 16 in the Super Regionals. We thought while the excitement was building, we better talk to someone who’s played in a Super Regional.

Poland graduate Erin Gabriel has played on the biggest stages that softball has to offer. From winning a state championship at Firestone Stadium in Akron, to punching a ticket to Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Erin has been there done that.  Even though her playing career is over, you can bet Erin is still making huge impacts on the game. She could have probably gone anywhere in the country and started her own training facility, but Erin decided it was important to go back to her roots and feed the area that produced her.  Now as a private coach, and new owner of her own training facility, Erin is molding the future of Youngstown softball one young student at a time.

We were able to get Erin on YSN’s Running Point to talk everything softball before regionals get kicked off this week. She talks with Anthony Hartwig and Ty Bartell about some lessons she learned in her career, her take on some big area names, and so much more. This is a segment that no softball fan should want to miss! Join the softball conversation with Erin Gabriel exclusively on YSN!



STATE COLLEGE PA- Every softball player has dreams of playing in the power 5 conferences. To have a legitimate chance to go out and compete for a championship in Oklahoma City. Only a small chosen few get to see themselves on that type of roster. Fitch grad Lydia Spalding has just that opportunity. All of her lessons that she gathered at Fitch have her ready to compete in the Big10.

Over the weekend, Lydia got her first collegiate strikeout against Buffalo. It is the first of many, we can be confident of that. Spalding has the perfect chance to learn from two tremendous senior pitchers at Penn State in Bailey Parshall, and Kylee Lingenfelter. Parshall already has thrown a perfect game this season. Lydia is going to soak up all she can while she can from her team’s great leaders in the circle.

Spalding has come a long way. She owes so much of where she is now to what she went through while at Fitch. She was coach by a coach in Steven award who does a tremendous job in promoting his athletes and putting them in positions to be seen by college coaches. He also puts together an incredible schedule that forces his players to be at their best every time out. Spalding has seen a plethora of amazing hitters in the circle just in her high school career. That experience can not be put into value. It will make the transition into pitching against a power 5 lineup a little less of a jump.

We had a chance to catch up with Lydia Spalding during her busy in season schedule to talk about her journey, and experience so far as a Nittany Lion. Be sure to check out Lydia and Penn State this weekend as they’ll be streamed on the ACC Network against Georgia Tech. If you want to see her play close to home, Penn State will be at Pittsburgh on March 16th. In the meantime, join us in catching up with Fitch’s own Lydia Spalding in this exclusive interview only on YSN.

Presented By:



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. 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgSev-1At6w[/embedyt]