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Fri, Oct. 18

Heat Elite 12U continues domination
Verde Valley team wins National Softball Association Southwestern World Series

Verde Valley Elite Heat 12U (left to right) Marissa Vocca, Tayah Hoke, Emma Agronovitz, Mackenzie Figy, Coach Katherine Stapleton, Sydnee Stapleton, Makena Watson, Nicole Ihrman, Coach Richard Ayersman III, Cheyniya Thompson, Kiki Saravo, Cameron Jones, Shayna Hawkins, Alexis Ayersman, Coach Shawna Figy, Madison Sharp. (Photo courtesy Richard Ayersman III)

Verde Valley Elite Heat 12U (left to right) Marissa Vocca, Tayah Hoke, Emma Agronovitz, Mackenzie Figy, Coach Katherine Stapleton, Sydnee Stapleton, Makena Watson, Nicole Ihrman, Coach Richard Ayersman III, Cheyniya Thompson, Kiki Saravo, Cameron Jones, Shayna Hawkins, Alexis Ayersman, Coach Shawna Figy, Madison Sharp. (Photo courtesy Richard Ayersman III)

The Verde Valley Heat Elite 12U softball continued their domination and won the National Softball Association Southwestern World Series last week in Prescott.

The Heat Elite beat 1 Bownet Ventura So-Cal 12U 5-4 to finish the Southwestern World Series with a 5-0 record. Verde Valley outscored their opponents 63-20.

“It was amazing,” said Verde Valley Heat Elite 12U head coach Richard Ayersman III. “For them to dominate in the fashion the way they did was a sight to see.”

It was the Heat Elite’s fourth NSA tournament of the summer and they won them all.

The Southwestern World Series was against unfamiliar opponents though, like Bownet Ventura So-Cal. Verde Valley beat them 15-2 earlier in the tournament.

“We never faced them and they’re one of the top teams in Southern California and we beat them twice in this tournament,” Ayersman said. “So it was amazing to play them, not having seen them before.”

The Heat Elite also hadn’t faced the Firecrackers Renteria, out of Yuma, a club Ayersman called a “top organization.”

Verde Valley beat them 9-8 in the last winner’s bracket game before the championship game.

“The level of play there was definitely top notch,” Ayersman said.

Verde Valley Heat Elite 12U finished third out of 42 teams in the USSSA Arizona power rankings of their class and 102nd nationally out of 2,000 teams.

Ayersman said the Heat Elite’s two pitchers were very impressive.

“We definitely have two of the top pitchers in our age group on our team and they’ve been lights out with their strike outs, very few walks,” Ayersman said.

He also said the defense stepped up when the pitchers didn’t have as many strikeouts as normal at the Southwestern World Series.

“The defense was top notch,” Ayersman said. “We had maybe on average, each one of those games, maybe one or two errors and just some phenomenal plays.”

In the four NSA tournaments, Verde Valley scored 182 runs and allowed 38.

In the Southwestern World Series, the Heat Elite had a +27 run differential in pool play and then scored 29 runs in bracket play.

“The offense, they were hitting on all cylinders for sure,” Ayersman said. “Every game we were in double digits.”

In March the Heat Elite finished second at the USSSA Arizona state tournament, which Ayersman thought led to success in the NSA tournaments this summer.

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The Verde Valley Elite Heat 12U receive the National Softball Association Southwestern World Series trophy last week in Prescott. The Elite Heat competed in four NSA tournaments this summer and won all of them and outscored opponents 63-20 at the Southwestern World Series. (Photo courtesy Richard Ayersman III)

“We did fairly well, it was a nice spring board going into this tournament,” Ayersman said.

Ayersman said this summer has been amazing.

“This group of girls has been together, under the Verde Valley Elite organization for two years, but most of these girls have been playing together for going on four, doing travel ball, most of them started out in Little League but this year was unbelievable,” Ayersman said. “NSA we did great but a lot of our tournaments we played in was USSSA and those girls just did lights out on there too.”

For winning the Southwestern World Series, the Heat Elite got a trophy, banner, rings and champions patches. The series wrapped up the summer season for the Heat Elite.

“It’s been really rewarding watching these girls grow from Little League on up to this to being one of the top teams in Arizona for a competitive team like this,” Ayersman said. “It’s something to behold. These girls have goals and they try and go out and achieve them and they go out there and just keep knocking it out of the park.”

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