Player of the Month
March Player of the Month: Shelby Houchlei
Shelby Houchlei, a sophomore at Hillsboro High School, is our March Player of the Month. Boasting a .367 batting average so far this season, with 11 hits, 6 RBIs, 1 double and 3 triples in 30 at bats, and a 1.75 ERA with 17 Ks in 12 innings, she has certainly earned this nomination for not only her latest stats, but for her grit and determination on and off the field!
“From the moment I watched her throw her first pitch, I instantly knew Shelby had something special, a fire in her that I knew would only intensify the more she learned and improved. While her natural arm speed is certainly a God-given gift, she is one of the most determined, hardworking athletes I know. She never settles for average or mediocrity, but continues to strive to be the best athlete she can be. She constantly asks for drills, workouts and ways she can improve her strength, consistency and movement. I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to go on to play this game at one of the highest levels, because she will continue to outwork her competition,” said BFA pitching coach Tina Buck-Harth.
“It is awesome to see a pitcher who can hit! Shelby has incredibly fast hands and instincts at the plate. Her ability to comprehend advanced drills and make adjustments to her reaction time and swing is truly remarkable. I never have to ask her to give more effort or swing harder, as these are things that are simply engrained in her. She has the potential to play this game at the highest level, because of her raw talent, determination and work ethic. It makes my job easy! Congrats Shelby and cannot wait to see where your softball career takes you,” said BFA hitting coach Mallory Beck.
February Player of the Month: Grace Mackey
Grace Mackey, a 15-year-old freshman from Glenwood High School, is our February Player of the Month. Grace plays first base for the 16U Pumas competitive softball team. When she is not playing softball, Grace teaches religion classes to third graders and is very active in her church youth group.
“Since our first lesson together, Grace has made tremendous strides in gaining a better understanding of her swing. She comes in with a positive attitude and a determination to get her swing to where she wants it to be. I have seen a maturity in Grace that has developed throughout our time together and I look forward to seeing her success in the future,” said BFA hitting instructor Sam Riss.
January Player of the Month: Izzy Nowack
Our January Player of the Month is Izzy Nowack, a fifth grader from Pawnee. Member of the 10U Spartan Storm competitive team, Izzy is a pitcher and student of Cheyanne Bowman. Her positive attitude on and off the mound and work ethic has contributed to her tremendous growth as a pitcher these past few months–making her worthy of this recognition.
“Izzy has put in so much time and effort into her pitching game and is always working on becoming a better softball player every week in lessons and at home. I have truly loved coaching Izzy, as she is always upbeat and is incredibly coachable. When I ask her to try new drills and techniques she is receptive to them and is always willing to give anything a try. I cannot wait to watch Izzy continue growing into a great softball player in the months and years ahead,” said BFA pitching coach Cheyanne Bowman.
December Player of the Month: Jolie Robertson
November Player of the Month: Zandrea Balding
A freshman at Argenta High School, Zandrea Balding is our November Player of the Month. Member of the 16U Midstate Fury and future pitcher for Argenta High School, Zandrea has blown us away with her positive attitude, work ethic and improvements she has made over the past few months.
“Zandrea is most deserving of this award, as she continues to push herself to be the best athlete and pitcher she can be. She has made incredible strides in her pitching game. It’s amazing to see the progress she has made in a year’s time. However, this has come at no surprise to us, as Zandrea practices and works out constantly outside of lessons. She is a great example how hard work and preservance is truly the key to success in this game. I cannot wait to see her hard work and determination pay off this season,” said BFA pitching coach Tina Buck-Harth.
“Zandrea is such a joy to coach! She is one of few students I have seen split the laces while crushing the ball! She’s a strong girl with a powerful swing who always gives me 100% effort and is eager to learn. Her positive attitude, work ethic, and coach-ability will take her far! Keep up the great work Zandrea,” said BFA hitting coach Mallory Beck.
October Player of the Month: Bailey Wilkinson
“I have had the privilege of working with Bailey for several years, and have seen her mature greatly into a confident leader on an off the mound. She never takes herself too seriously and is so much fun to work with in lessons. Her humor and laughter is contagious and her power, strength and leadership will truly be a great asset to the Parkland softball squad next year! Cannot wait to see her pursue her love of the game at the next level,” said BFA pitching coach Tina Buck-Harth.
September Player of the Month: Livi Carter
“Livi is such a joy to coach! She never fails to show up to lessons with a smile on her face! I often give her choices between drills and she asks me, ‘Which is more challenging?’ This just shows her determination and competitive drive to bettering her performance. Her maturity and coachability is outstanding! She always asks how my week is and thanks me before leaving lessons. She is a well-rounded kiddo, which is what this sport need more of! Great work and well deserved honor to a great girl! Keep that good attitude and fire, Livi! You’ll go far,” said BFA Hitting Coach Mallory Beck.
“The willpower and determination Livi has to succeed in this sport is second to none. While she is a fierce competitor, she is one of my respectful and hardworking students I have. Her maturity and demeanor on the mound certainly makes her stand out at the 10U level. She understands that failure is part of the game, but never lets failure get her down. Her eagerness and passion for learning this game far exceeds my expectations for an athlete of her age. I look forward to watching Livi grow to become not only a great athlete, but a great leader on and off the field,” said BFA Pitching Coach Tina Buck-Harth.
August Player of the Month: Kaleigh Cobb
“Kayleigh always comes into lessons with a smile and is eager to learn. I love the amount of focus that she brings each week. I know that she will always give me her best effort and will ask questions so that she can better understand her swing. She has made great strides as a hitter since she has started lessons and I look forward to continuing to watch her grow as a hitter,” said Samantha Riss.
July Player of the Month: Bailey Morrow
“I have worked with Bailey since she was nine years old, and it has been a true pleasure to watch her grow to be a dominate pitcher and a great leader and person on and off the field. I never doubted that Bailey would one day play at the college level, as her heart and determination for this game is second to none. I look forward to seeing her have a breakout season next spring for SHG and cannot wait to follow her and her college career,” said BFA owner Tina Buck.
June Player of the Month: Reagan Miles
Reagan was our most successful high school pitcher this year as she went 20-6, with 1 save, 1.86 ERA, 166 strikeouts, 3 no hitters and 2 perfect games in 161 innings. She pitched her Rochester team to a 3rd place finish in State and first Sectional and Super-Sectional wins in school history. She earned Academic All-Conference honors and was named to the All- Conference Team and SJ-R All-Metro Best of Preps Team.
“Watching Reagan fight the heat and battle her heart out during playoffs was one of the proudest moments of my coaching career. As she was awarded the Sectional Championship plaque, it brought tears to my eyes to know how hard she has worked all these years for a moment like that. This girl continues to amaze with me her tenacity on the mound and her constant willingness to learn and improve. She sets an excellent example for our younger students, as she is the epitome of what hard work looks like. Look forward to seeing her take her team even further next spring,” said BFA pitching coach Tina Buck.
May Player of the Month: Emma Grace Pezold
“Emma Grace is very determined and hardworking. She is constantly striving to do her best at every lesson. Her power and swing continue to amaze me for her age. She will be very successful in the future and I am excited to hear about her success as she grows. I am pretty sure she already hits harder than me! And as a coach that couldn’t make me more proud,” said BFA hitting instructor Sarah Gray.
April Player of the Month: Katie Long
“Katie has matured so much at the plate throughout our lessons. She has a great understanding of her swing and can make adjustments when needed. Katie is not afraid to come into lessons and tell me what she struggled with in the previous games. She comes to lessons with a smile on her face and she is always ready to work hard. Katie is a perfectionist when it comes to working on drills in the cage. She cannot leave without ending with a hit that she is happy with. I look forward to watching Katie continue to grow as a hitter and can’t wait to see where she goes in the future,” said Coach Riss.
March Player of the Month: Amber Ehrlich
“Amber’s willing-to-learn and go get ‘em mentality makes teaching her hitting extremely fun! She is always so eager to step into the cages and full of energy! We made some adjustments with Amber’s swing during the first week that I had her for lessons, and she was extremely receptive to learning a different approach! I believe this reflects her coachability and positive attitude, something I truly value in my hitters. Just after three weeks, I see improvement in Amber’s consistency, power, balance, and confidence! We are going to have fun together in the cages in the upcoming weeks to further prepare her for competitive play at the next level,” said BFA Hitting Coach Mallory Beck.
“It is rare I have a student who is as open to learning and trying new things as Amber. Every new pitching technique and drill I ask her to try she tackles it with a consistent positive attitude and drive to succeed at it. Her consistency with her fastball and changeup is second to none. She is truly one of the reasons I love doing what I do. She is a constant reminder of how hard work and dedication will pay off. While she is small, she is mighty, and I believe with her attitude and work ethic she is going to truly surprise people this year on the softball diamond. She certainly has the will and drive to prove people wrong. Can’t wait to see her continue to take her pitching game to the next level,” said BFA Pitching Coach Tina Buck.
“Amber isn’t the biggest or strongest athlete around, but she’s one of the most determined and focused. She has always loved playing softball. Since starting her training at BFA, she is beginning to truly understand the fundamentals and techniques of the game,” said Amber’s Dad Chris Ehrlich.
February Player of the Month: Mallory Vespa
“Mal has been a pleasure to coach and build a relationship with. I began instructing her older sister (Grace) prior to coaching Mal. I’m grateful that Mal hasn’t gotten too upset with me continuously calling her by the wrong name. She is a quiet girl but assertive with her bat. She’s never afraid to speak up and ask questions when she doesn’t understand something. Her progress in becoming a consistent and more powerful hitter is unremarkable. Her work outside of our lessons demonstrates her dedication to improving as a player. Her coachability and positive attitude makes her a joy to instruct, and these attributes are a reflection of what I believe will be a bright future! Keep up the good work, Mal! Good things are yet to come,” said BFA Hitting Coach Mallory Beck.
“Mallory’s work ethic is second to none. She shows up to every lesson with a fire and desire to improve. She is never satisfied with average, and is always striving to be better than she was the week before. It’s hard to ignite a fire in players, but with Mal it was easy. Her passion for the game and pitching is exemplary, and I am so proud to have her as my student and to see her succeed on and off the field. She is certainly a team leader on the mound and I cannot wait to see her pitching career take off this year! Keep shooting for the STARS Mal,” said BFA Pitching Coach Tina Buck.
January Player of the Month: Claire Collins
Claire Collins, a fourth-grader at Chatham Elementary School and member of the 10U Spartan Storm, is our January Player of the Month! Claire is a pitching student of Cheyanne Bowman’s and is also a member and leader of the first graduating class of the Baseball and Softball Education (BASE) Program this past fall.
“I have been so impressed with Claire’s work ethic and motivation on the mound. Her accuracy continues to improve every week and I have high hopes for her this season! Great Job Claire and keep up the hard work, ” said pitching coach Cheyanne Bowman.
“Claire really stands out as a vocal team leader, as she led team discussions and answered all of my questions during our five weeks of BASE training this fall. She is not just a good athlete, but a remarkable young leader,” said BFA owner Tina Buck.
December Player of the Month: Taryn Griffith
Taryn Griffith, a fourth grader from Ball Chatham Elementary, is our December Player of the Month. Catching/hitting student of Samantha Riss and pitching student of Tina Buck, Taryn is proof that hard work and determination pays off!
“Don’t let her size fool you, this girl has power! Her drive to be the best is one of her greatest characteristics. I have never met a player so young who has the heart and the competitiveness that Taryn does. Aside from the hours spent improving her softball skills, Taryn also spends nearly twelve hours a week working out and practicing for her competitive gymnastics team. Her love of the game and her silly personality make lessons with her fly by. She loves to have fun and play games but when it comes to getting the work done she pushes herself to the limit. Watching Taryn grow as a player has been a real pleasure of mine and I can’t wait to see what she will do in her upcoming season, ” said BFA Hitting & Catching Instructor Samantha Riss.
“While Taryn loves to catch, she has also shown a great interest in pitching. As strong and as determined as she is, Taryn’s potential as a pitcher is limitless! I cannot wait to see her this summer on the mound and behind the plate. I think she will continue to surprise everyone with her strength, power and work ethic. Echoing Sam’s thoughts, Taryn’s competitive drive is second to none and her fire for the game is truly inspiring to her teammates and coaches,” said BFA Pitching Instructor Tina Buck.
November Player of the Month: Reagan Miles
“I have worked with Reagan for nearly 5 years, and the progress and improvement I have seen her make has been exemplary! She is one of my hardest working students, and has one of the best demeanors I have seen on the mound. She does not allow the fear of failure get the best of her, and continues to strive for better. I truly believe her career is just beginning, and I cannot wait to see where her talent and worth ethic takes her post-high school!” ~BFA Pitching Coach, Tina Buck
“I’ve been Reagan’s hitting coach close to a year now. Her coach-ability and go-getter attitude is second to none. There’s no question she is a gifted athlete. She’s got quick hands and outstanding power at the plate! I’ve challenged her to continue working outside of our lessons to improve her consistency, and her performance in lessons reflects just that! Her positivity and work ethic makes working with her so enjoyable! I’m confident all of these things will take her far this upcoming school season and beyond! I’m excited to watch her play this spring!” ~BFA Hitting Coach, Mallory Beck
October Player of the Month: Kaeloni Hull
A member of the Griggsville-Perry Junior High team and 12U Midstate Fury, Kaeloni Hull is our October Player of the Month!
“She is very hardworking, determined, and has one of the best work ethics I have seen. She is more than willing to put in the extra effort outside of lessons to really master the skills of becoming a great hitter. As an instructor you couldn’t ask for a better student,” said BFA Hitting Instructor Sarah Gray.
Congratulations Kaeloni! Keep working hard to achieve her goals!
September Player of the Month: Whitney Pascoe
“Whitney is a pleasure to work with! I have the privilege/opportunity to work with her twice a week. Her positive attitude and work ethic is second to none. It is obvious she is passionate about becoming the best hitter she can be. There is no doubt she can hit a softball, but what makes her such a joy to instruct is her drive to succeed, inspiring character, and her outstanding leadership. I’ve never seen Whitney without a smile on her face or show any negative emotion. She is extremely coachable and will push herself outside of her comfort zone to master difficult drills in our lessons. I know she will go far if she continues to show her consistent commitment to this great game,” said hitting coach Mallory Beck.
Congratulations Whitney! We look forward to seeing you extend your career past high school! Keep up the hard work!
August Player of the Month: Kelsey Bruno
“Kelsey is a gamer. She has a focus on the mound that is second to none. I have seen her mature and develop into a force of a pitcher, and I cannot be more proud of her progress. She continues to surprise herself and me with what her body is able to do when she sets her mind to it. She is one of my most improved pitchers these past few years and I truly admire her perseverance and tenacity to want to succeed at the highest level.” ~Tina Buck – BFA Owner/Pitching Coach
Congratulations Kelsey! Keep it up!
July Player of the Month: Claire Krivanek
A 6th Grader at Glenwood Intermediate School and pitcher for the Chatham Angels, Claire Krivanek is our July Player of the Month!
BFA pitching coach, Bri Graham nominated Claire for the award because, “She has improved immensely since she started taking lessons. She has increased velocity and is very accurate with her pitches already. I hear nothing but great things after her games. She always is eager at lessons to learn more and improve. I can tell from her performance she is working hard outside of our lessons together as well. Claire is always a joy to work with! Keep up the great work!”
June Player of the Month: Josie Bartels
May Player of the Month: Emma Brown
With a batting average of .618 this spring, Emma is proof that hard work and confidence at the plate pays off!
“Emma has impressed me from the very first lesson, and we have continued to find tune her swing! It makes you so proud as a coach to see how excited she gets when her hard work and determination at lessons pay off in successful game at bats! I can’t wait to see her continue to grow as a softball player!”
~Sarah Gray (BFA Hitting Coach)
April Player of the Month: Lacey Boltz
Lacey brings a very hardworking and dedicated attitude to each lesson. She is a shortstop and a third baseman for her competitive softball team and she is sure to give 100% on and off the field. She also plays soccer, basketball, and competes in track and field to keep her busy.
“Lacey was one of my first students through the Buck Fastpitch Academy and I am so proud of how much she has grown since I have met her. She always comes to each lesson with a positive attitude and wants to work hard. She is her toughest critic but knows that she wants to be the best she can. Lacey takes instruction very well and has an open mind when it comes to trying new drills. It has been a pleasure working with Lacey and I look forward to seeing how far she goes in the future.”
~Samantha Riss (BFA Hitting Instructor)
March Player of the Month: Kalli Avera
In addition to pitching, Kalli also plays outfield, 3rd, 2nd and shortstop. She also runs track in the spring to prepare for her softball summer season. She is truly a team player on and off the field and is an A student in the classroom.