The Carolinas have been strong in baseball and softball for a long time, both in producing talent and fielding strong teams.
On the club side, the Lady Lightning have had Top 10 finishes at major tourneys nationwide and have played talented players at Power 5 schools in conferences like the ACC and SEC as have programs like the Carolina Elite and the Carolina Cardinals.
Another club that is showing promise is Gary Simpson’s Bandits-North Carolina organization which has teams based in both North and South Carolina and has finished high in showcases and tourneys in the 14U, 16U and 18U levels.
Just this week, the 18U team was listed as being ranked No. 50 by US Club Rankings, prompting Simpson to say, “I'm really excited for my program and the progress we've made this year. I'm sure you're up on the (US Club) rankings but I was so excited. Our 14U didn't compete in the rankings events and the 18U only competed in one so next year I'm hoping for a higher rank since we are looking to do more as we continue to grow.”
Krista Crawford, Event Director for Triple Sports which runs big events like TC/USA Nationals and Zoom Into June, said of the Bandits: “This is a great organization with great people; the team is full of girls who are well coached and hard workers. You can tell they spend a lot of time on development of their kids.”
It’s always fun to learn the origin and see the growth of a program and we asked Simpson, who’s the Bandits Director as well as one of its coaches, about the past, present and future of the organization which has produced more than two dozen college signed or committed players since starting 11 years ago.
Here’s a closer look at this rising program and what makes it tick!