Tag Archive for: USSSA Pride Scarlet


Welcome to another week inside the Hot Corner. As players begin working towards their fall season we will continue to bring you coverage of all things softball on this blog. In this edition we shine a spotlight on a familiar face. Sydney Mercer of West Branch High School, and Ohio USSSA Pride-Scarlett talks about her summer in our first spotlight interview. I’m excited to do more of these in the future. Also this week’s special guest is Justin McLeod. Softball fans may know him better as Justin’s World of Softball. He does a fantastic job covering softball at every level. The Adam Shefter of the sport we all love.

Spotlight: Sydney Mercer.

Sydney Mercer spent her summer with our friends at Ohio USSSA Pride-Scarlett. She dazzled at the plate all summer long, putting up monster numbers. In 53 games played Sydney hit .544 with 24 HR and 80 RBI. With an eye popping OPS of 1.891 Sydney strikes fear in the eye of every pitcher she comes across. Mercer is a class of 2022 that plays her high school ball at West Branch. She also plays volleyball, and basketball. Her three sport routine keeps in her in shape for achieving her goals. Sydney was kind enough to take time to talk to me about her summer season.

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Special Guest Justin McLeod

Justin is one of the premiere people that covers softball on a national scale. He covers the sport at all levels whether it be Division III college, travel ball, or professional. Justin started doing what he does for a similar reason YSN was founded. He wanted to cover a sport he saw no one covering. He started Justin’s World of Softball in 2012. Justin has been very helpfully to me when I started this blog. He gave me great advice on contacting college SID’s in order to get some of the wonderful guests we’ve already had on the Hot Corner. I was happy to return the favor and have the man who is usually asking the questions answer them. You can visit Justin’s World of Softball at justinsworldsb.com for the latest softball news from around the country.

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Welcome to another edition of the Hot Corner. The blog that is all softball all the time. The summer travel season is starting to wind down. The softball talent across the nation is doing the opposite of winding down. It’s growing exponentially. Every edition we will highlight a player from the amateur ranks local or national that you will need to remember. The goal of this blog is to always highlight the growth of the sport. We’ll also continue to have amazing guests from the National softball scene. Today our special guest is Cheyenne Tarango. Her interview will be at the bottom of the page.


This week’s spotlight is Hannah Capps. Hannah is a class of 2023 who plays for Coffee high school in Douglas, Georgia. In the state of Georgia, softball is played in the fall. So Hannah was not stripped of a freshman season like 2023’s here in Ohio. In her freshman season with the Trojans she hit .374 with 5 HR and 33 RBI. Hannah can play in multiple positions, but from what I’ve seen following her on Twitter for a while, catching is where she excels. Her pop time as a catcher is very good, especially considering she has plenty of time to get even better. Hannah plays travel for the EC Bullets Prairie ‘03. Hannah might just be one of the next premiere catchers that shines on the national level. With her hitting ability, and exceptional skills behind the plate, I don’t think it’s too early to see some Sahvanna Jaquish comparisons.

Friends of the Blog 

Our friends USSSA Pride-Scarlet closed out their summer last weekend in North Ridgeville. They made it all the way to the semifinals before rain ended the games, and their season. The Pride went 6-0 before the rain halted their weekend. The Pride hit 7 more HR’s over the weekend as a team. They were spread out between four players. When you look at their final offensive numbers for the season, they’re eye popping. Only two players didn’t hit above .400. Sydney Mercer finished the summer with a .544 average with 24 HR and 80 RBI. Those numbers aren’t typos. The team’s pitching numbers stayed strong this weekend too. Liana Morreale finished the year 11-3, with an ERA of 2.45. She also struck out 77.  Tori Long wasn’t far behind either. She went 12-4 with an ERA of 3.86. She struck out 58. These numbers on offense and defense are what led to a 44-9 record over the summer.  Congrats to the Pride on an amazing summer. We look forward to seeing what you all do next.

Special Guest Cheyanne Tarango

(Kevin Gregory)

Cheyanne Tarango attended Canyon High School in California before going on to continue her career at the University of Tennessee. She played on the USA Junior National Team. She also spent time with the Mexican National Team. Last summer she played in the NPF as a member of the Cleveland Comets, who are partnered with team Mexico. She also spent a season as a volunteer assistant coach at Louisville University. She was a pitcher who also hit, and played solid first base. Cheyanne is known for her devastatingly slow changeup. A pitcher who can take she hit 19 HR and 89 RBI in her career at Tennessee.

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Another weekend has gone by and that means more phenomenal  softball to talk about, and more great talent to highlight. Also on this edition we have a wonderful special guest. The first current college coach to join the Hot Corner. Emma Johnson, associate head coach at Kent State.

We’ll start with some news out of California. The PGF has canceled the All American game that was scheduled for August 1st and to be televised on ESPNU. Previous guest and friend of the blog Riley Frizell was scheduled to play in that game. She’ll still be playing in TCS Nationals in Georgia coming up soon. We’ll stay updated on how that goes.

This edition’s shoutout goes to Belle Hummel. Belle is a 2022 from Lakota West High School. She plays travel for Ohio Hawks 16U Gold-Hutchinson. She hit .494 last season for West with 17 RBI and 2 HR. But what she excelled at his her speed and slapping ability. Definitely capable of hitting the long ball, in fact she hit one this weekend in the Hawks tie with Lasers Teal. The fact that pitcher’s have to at least respect her power while being terrified of her speed makes this 2022 a gem. Keep an eye on Belle because she’s going to do great things.

Friends of the blog

As always we will catch up with our friends of the blog. Let’s start with Ohio Lasers Yellow who finishes their summer this weekend. The Lasers went 3-2-1. Maci Boggess pitched 22.2 innings and only gave up one earned run on the weekend. She struck out 13. Austintown Fitch’s Maddy Taylor hit .467 going 7-15 with 4 RBI. Congratulations to the Lasers on a great summer.

Now let’s see how that offense of USSSA Pride- Scarlet is doing. Yep they’re still explosive. The Pride hit 13  HR’s over the weekend. Sydney Mercer hit 4. Josie Spano hit 3. They’re pitching is still holding strong as well. The Pride has a team ERA of 2.79. Liana Morreale is leading them with an ERA of 2.39 in 67.1 IP. She’s stuck out 68. The Pride went 7-2 on the weekend and have a summer record of 38-9. They’ll finish their summer this weekend at the Midwest Summer Showcase in North Ridgeville

Special Guest Emma Johnson

(Courtesy KSU Athletics)

I am pleasured to welcome the first current college coach to join the Hot Corner. Emma is the newly announced Associate Head Coach of Kent State. Johnson is one the most decorated players in the Kent State program. She won MAC pitcher of the year twice during her career. Her senior season she led Kent State to a 41-13 record. She ranked in the top 5 nationally in strike outs per 7 innings, and had the nation’s third lowest ERA. These numbers helped Johnson be drafted 25th overall in the NPF draft by the Pennsylvania Rebellion, where she spent two seasons.

Johnson has completed her third season as an assistant on the Kent State staff. She was promoted to Associate Head Coach on July 1st.


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Welcome back to the Hot Corner! We took a week off on a rather slow weekend with a lot of local travel teams off, but we are back with a ton of softball to talk about after the 4th of July. As always promised this blog will merge local softball coverage with the elite softball world, and boy do we have some awesome guests planned for the month of July. Starting today, as the Hot Corner welcomes former Oklahoma Sooner, and 2013 National Champion, Jessica Shults. 


Weekend Recap


Now in a normal summer this would be one of the biggest weekends in travel softball. Florida and Colorado both annuals host multiple national 4th of July tournaments. However a chunk of those were canceled due to COVID -19.  Before we check in on teams that are friends of the blog, I want to give a shoutout to Kylie Macy and her Atlanta Vipers-Holbrook team. They took home the trophy in one of the Colorado tournaments not canceled. The Triple Crown 4th of July National Tournament. I’ve been following Kylie for a while. The Georgia Bulldog commit from Grayson High School is a rising star. The Vipers went 10-1 on the weekend and beat NE Gold Perkins 7-2 in the championship. Congratulations to Kaylie and the Vipers! 


Now to our friends of the blog! USSSA Scarlet got back in action this weekend at the USA Battle of the Burgh in Cranberry PA. The Pride went 7-1 over the weekend. In case you were wondering, yes their offense is still putting up video game type numbers. They hit 10 home runs over the weekend. Their team total is 50 now in 38 games played. Sydney Mercer is locked in this summer. She’s hitting .549 with 16 HR and 54 RBI. Don’t let their offensive power over shadow the job Liana Morreale is doing in the circle. She’s 8-2 with an ERA of 2.25 and has struck out 51, she’s only walked 19. 


Ohio Lasers Yellow went to the Midwest Firecracker Showcase this weekend. You can add another shutout to Maci Boggess’ tab. In their first game of the weekend she threw a gem in the Lasers 1-0 win. Going 5 innings, striking out 6 and giving up 0 runs on 3 hits. Austintown Fitch’s Maddy Taylor hit .333 on the weekend with 5 RBI. The Lasers went 4-2-1 on the weekend. 


If you want your team weekly highlighted on the Hot Corner, it’s really easy. Just get in contact with me (Anthony Hartwig) on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and keep me updated on your team’s schedule and stats. The more teams that are friends of the blog the better! 


Special Guest: Jessica Shults

Jessica Shults(18) / Oklahoma Sooners


I am very excited to welcome Jessica Shults to the Hot Corner. Jessica is one of the best catchers in softball ever. It’s a short list, and in my opinion she’s on it. She played at Oklahoma from 2010-2013. Here are some of her accolades: 

3 time NFCA All American 

2012 NFCA Catcher of the Year

3 Time Selection as All- Big 12

2013 National Champion. 


Jessica went on to be a graduate assistant for Oklahoma from 2014-2016. She was an assistant coach at Houston from 2016-2019. Shults was drafted 3rd overall by the USSSA Pride in 2013. She played in the NPF until 2016. She won a Cowles Cup with the Pride in 2013-2014. She now does hitting and coaching lessons through Gap2Gap.

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Its Monday, which means there’s a lot of softball results to dive into from the weekend. Ohio holds some of the best travel tournaments in the Midwest. One of the tournaments that rises above the rest is the D1 Fastpitch Outlaws Summer Invitational Showcase.

The Beverly Bandits travel organization is highly respected and their name is all over the Championship list at the Outlaws Showcase. Their Demarini Richards team won the 16U division, and the Beverly Bandits Dorsey team won the 18U. In their 16U division Shelby Westler is a name on that team I’ve been following for a while. A 2022 from River Valley High School in Marion OH Shelby is a catcher/infielder/utility player that can really swing the bat well. On Saturday night she hit a go ahead 2 run HR on the Bandits way to a 7-3 win.

Friends of the Hot Corner the Ohio Lasers Yellow Team also competed at the Outlaws showcase. After a 0-0 tie to start off their Thursday, they beat Finesse 5-2. The rest of their weekend didn’t go as planned as they lost two one run games to Turning2. Maddy Taylor from Austintown Fitch had a couple RBI over the weekend. Maci Boggess still pitches pretty well in the circle throughout the weekend. In 10 innings pitched she only gave up 5 earned runs and struck out 11.

The USSSA Pride Scarlet team wasn’t at the Outlaws Showcase, but had a great weekend at the Sheer Madness Showcase. They won all 8 of their games and were Co-Champions because of the championship game being rained out. They hit 11 more home runs on the weekend as a team bringing their total to 39 on the summer. Sommer Bourne and Sydney Mercer each hit 2 bombs. Maris Barbato got one out to push her weekend total to a eye popping 13. USSSA’s pitching was amazing this weekend too, Tori Long and Liana Morreale each threw no hitters. Morreale did it with every pitch being stressful as the Pride snuck out a 1-0 win over Stingrays 03. The Pride is hitting .432 AS A TEAM! It’s just an incredible offensive lineup, and if they’re tossing no hitters Im not sure what the game plan is playing them in the future. In 30 games they’ve outscored their opponents 231-83. Do the math and that’s an average of a 5 run margin of victory for the Pride. Dominant much like their professional counter parts.

Speaking of USSSA’s professional team, they begin play tonight and I couldn’t be more excited that elite professional softball is back in action. USSSA Pride and Scrap Yard Fastpitch begin a summer tour today where they will play at different events held in each of their headquarters. A season playing each other in exhibition games in front of teams that have come to play in the events their hosting. That may sound underwhelming to the casual softball fan two teams playing each other all summer, but when the two rosters have 95% of the elite softball world on it, and you know their future could very possibly include a league of their own after their non compete from the NPF expires it’s very exciting. Pretty much every player who is on the USA Olympic roster will be represented in this summer tour that is being tagged #BetterTogether. I think that tag says a lot about what the future might hold for Scrap Yard and USSSA. Who knows? You may be seeing some members of the summer tour as special guests to the Hot Corner as the summer goes on. Stay tuned!!


Yes softball fans yesterday was the day the world gets to celebrate this wonderful sport! World softball day was all over social media as travel college, and professional teams shared memories of the game we love. What are your favorite softball memories? I’ll get to some of mine later, but first let’s check in with Ohio USSSA Pride-Scarlet.

An exciting Friday as after a 7-1 blowout of Ohio Lightning, Sommer Bourne hit a walk off home run to beat Ohio Slamforce-Hudson. That was the first of 4 home runs this powerful offense would hit on Friday. Maris Barbato hit her 5th of the summer, and Sydney Mercer hit a pair, including a grand slam. The Pride went 1-1 on Saturday. And after winning their first 3 games today, they fell to Valley Extreme 5-4.

I was not able to attend this weekend’s games but thanks to our friends at GameChanger I was able to follow the games closely. It also gives me access to the numbers this Pride team is putting up so far and…wow! As a team in 22 games played the Pride have hit 28 home runs. Sydney Mercer leads that category with 8, Maris Barbato has 7. Mercer is hitting an eye popping .537 with 28 RBI. Barbato is hitting .508. This offense is  so deep you can’t pitch around anyone. I think it’s really smart that they usually have Barbato as a lead off hitter. Coach Szolek doesn’t fall for misconception that your HR leaders need to be 4, and 5 in the lineup. Having Maris lead off a game immediately puts pressure on an opposing pitcher, and they can’t start with a lead off wall and pitch around her. She’s everything you want out of a leadoff hitter, and she adds significant power to that resume. Emily Holland had an amazing Sunday hitting 3 HR’s including a grand slam. She brought her average up to .333 and boosted her RBI total to 17.

Liana Morreale and Tori Long get the majority of the starts in the circle for the Pride, and they’re both solid. Liana is a commit to Old Dominion and has great movement on her pitches. Long does a great job countering her with a different approach. Morreale has 28 K’s on the summer, and Long has 22. With their offense has potent as it is, they really don’t have to be perfect in the circle. It takes a lot of pressure off those two and you can tell in the loose nature they bring to their pitching. We’ll continue to follow the Pride and other local travel teams as the summer goes on. Follow their team twitter @OhioScarlet.

Now back to celebration of World Softball day. I owe so much to the sport of softball. I did play special Olympics softball for 4 years with the Mahoning County Public Warriors. It was a great outlet for my competitive mindset to get out and compete at a sport. But really the thing that softball has brought to me the most is amazing friendships. I’m not exaggerating when I say that a large percentage of the friends I keep in my circle I have met from the game of softball. My love for the game started gradually as I was in high school. South Range’s softball team at the time was very successful. They won 28 ITCL games in a row during my junior and senior year, and made trips to the regional tournament both years getting to the final once. Not too far down the road at the same time in Poland, Erin Gabriel was making a national name for herself. My family knew Erin, her dad and my mom worked together so we always kept tabs on her career. When she announced that she was going to play for Tennessee, that’s when I really started to watch college softball. And man, does the game at that level get you hooked fast. Erin started at Tennessee in 2013, and she was on one of the best teams in the country. I fell in love with that team. I think since social media, especially twitter was fairly new softball fans including myself had so much opportunity for connections with the players on the highest stage. I could go on twitter and have conversations with some of Erin’s teammates who grew to be friends. Players like Lauren Gibson, Raven Chavanne, Ivy Renfroe, and Cheyenne Tarango made it so easy to get emotionally attached to the success of that team. Ivy got drafted by the Akron Racers, who I had no idea even existed before then. Once I went to Firestone Stadium to see her play, it was over. There was no going back to life without softball. And watching professional softball through the years has given me so many amazing friends. So to everyone involved in this beautiful sport happy belated world softball day.

Some of my softball memories to share with you.

I have some very cool special guests coming up soon on the Hot Corner. Softball fans won’t want to miss it. Keep following along as the Hot Corner merges the local softball scene and the elite level of the sport.


One weekend ago at the perfect storm tournament held by Thunder Elite, it was clear that a lot of teams had rust to shake off after going so long without softball. It led to a lot of lopsided final scores over the weekend. A week later it is safe to say all the rust is off. Man what a competitive weekend at the D1 Fastpitch Summer Showcase helps at McCune Park in Canfield, and Field of Dreams in Boardman. The weather was great, and I watched a lot of softballs this weekend, which put me in my happy place.

There were a couple of teams I followed this weekend. Let’s talk about the USSSA Pride Scarlet team containing a ton of local talent. Last weekend their offense was incredible, and they looked just as good this weekend. Maris Barbato leads off for the Pride, and talk about a starting off a lineup with a bang. Barbato hit 4 home runs over the weekend. 3 in three consecutive games. That wasn’t the end of the Pride’s power though, as Sydney Mercer and Sommer Bourne also left the yard. When you combine their poet on offense to really solid arms in the circle, the Pride become an extremely dangerous opponent. Highlights of their Saturday games can be found at the bottom of the page.

The best pitching performance I saw all weekend was without a doubt Maci Boggess for the Ohio Lasers-Yellow. I watched her shut out a really good Wolfpack team to close out the Laser’s Saturday. Then on Bracket Play Sunday she shut out the Outlaws-Harbold. A couple of hours later in the Laser’s next Bracket game against an older more experienced Firecrackers PA-Griffin team, she only surrendered 1 ER on 2 hits. She gave up a leadoff triple that a RBI groundout would eventually score. Unfortunately, the Lasers offense couldn’t find a rhythm and the Lasers dropped the game 1-0. Maci does a fantastic job using both sides of the plate. She also can mix speeds pretty well. She has a great spin on her pitches and when she’s on, she’s super hard to hit. She was the Lasers workhorse over the weekend, and never showed signs of fatigue. Maci is an uncommitted class of 2023 out of Winfield West Virginia. Keep an eye on her as the years go by.

(Photo Credit: Tammy Justice)

On Sunday I took a trip to the Field of Dreams to see the Outlaws Demarini-White team. South Range’s Bree Kohler had a productive first weekend of travel ball in the circle and at the plate. On Saturday she pitched against Ohio Lasers Blue which is widely considered to be not just a top team in the state, but the country. Bree finished with 7 K’s and surrendered just 3 hits. The Outlaws won the game 5-3. The Outlaws also feature PGF All-American, and future Missouri Tiger Riley Frizell. Being someone who has a lot of connections and family in Kansas City who are big Missouri fans themselves, I was very excited to get to see Riley in action. She’s going to do big things in Columbia.

That’ll do it for the recap of the D1 Fastpitch Summer Showcase. My biggest takeaway, especially with the handful of teams that also played in last weekend’s action is how much smoother the players looked after just a week of getting back on the field. I saw a lot fewer errors in the field, pitchers hitting a lot more of their spots, and hitters making quick adjustments to pitchers.

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Softball made its return to the area this past weekend, and it busted the doors wide open. Thunder Elite hosted a 92 team tournament spanning from 10U to 18U. Teams from all over Ohio, and some from Pennsylvania we’re competing at four different venues throughout the area.

I have a few takeaways from not only the games I watched, but also the updates I saw from a lot of these team’s wonderfully run social media pages. The first takeaway looking at the scores of the games this weekend it was clear offense was not a problem. On bracket play Sunday alone there were 24 games that had at least one team in double digit runs. I was expecting pitchers to have an advantage in the first weekend back. It doesn’t look like that was always the case.

The most competitive and thrilling game of bracket play Sunday came in 10u where the championship game between Thunder Elite 09 and Ohio ICE purple. Thunder Elite took a 5-4 lead in to the bottom of the 7th, only to see ICE tie things up. Then ICE walked it off for a 6-5 win.

Ohio USSSA Pride Scarlet showed how potent it’s lineup is over the weekend as they hit 6 HR’s as a team on Saturday. 3 of them by Josie Spano. Tori Long and Sydney Mercer also went yard. Mercer added another home run on Sunday. The Prides lineup is powerful.

(Courtesy Ohio USSSA Pride- Scarlet)

Maddy Taylor From Austintown Fitch got her first home run of the summer over the weekend for the Lasers. She’ll be someone to watch as the summer goes on. An absolute division 1 type talent.

(Courtesy Britton Taylor)

Other Championship scores: in the 12u division Silver Creek Prospects beat RC Venom 13-7. In the 14u Lake Erie Warhawks beat Wolfpack 06 10-0. 16u saw the Garroway Outlaws beat USSSA Pride Scarlet 8-3.

I personally was watching the 18u part of this tournament. It was full of high school seniors that may have been the last chance to see play in the area. The Ohio Warriors were the local team in the bracket. Mostly made up of either seniors or juniors, their lineup is loaded with local talent. I was impressed with Bri Callow out of McDonald who took most of the pitching duties over the weekend. Kaili Gross is also a pitcher on their roster, but wasn’t quite warmed up to pitch this weekend. Bri also showed great strength at the plate. Some other prominent names on the Warriors roster are Ally Nitolli, Cam Latanzio, Brooke Bobbey, and Abby Farber all out of Poland. Lexi Diaz our of Mooney gives them tremendous speed. Delaney Early out of East Palestine is a high quality slapper in the lineup. They have a cannon behind the plate in Lauren Maughan out of Boardman. The Warriors went 3-0 in pool play on Saturday. They earned the two seed in bracket Sunday. With a bye, the win their first game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Predators. The Warriors were up 4-1 for most of the game, but had to hold off a rally in the final inning to win 4-3. In the 18u championship they played the Pittsburgh Passion who upset Parma in the semis 10-8. The Warriors fell behind early but kept clawing back. Trailing 11-4 in their final at bats the Warriors scored 5 runs and had the tying runs on base before falling 11-9.

It was a great weekend of softball. The guidelines set down by the Ohio Heath Department were followed at the games I attended. It was a refreshing sense of normalcy.

This weekend there are tournaments at Boardman’s Field of Dreams, and McClure Park In Canfield. I will try to hit them both weather pending and have another travel ball recap next week.

Below are highlights of the Ohio Warriors Bracket Sunday games.

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