Next Monday (April 22, 2019), we kick off our Extra Elite Eighty 14U Club Rankings and before and during the unveiling of the top teams we’ll profile several of them.
Today we look at a fast-rising team that has changed names and organizations as J.C. Yeatts has moved his Oklahoma Angels over to the Diamond Sports Hotshots organization based out of Texas to become the Oklahoma Hotshots.
As we’ve talked to dozens of club coaches in the 14U age division, this group of athletes is one that is getting a lot of respect as a team to watch this summer.
Here’s a closer look at the team and its background with insights provided by Coach Yeatts…
When did the team/program start and how/why did it come to be?
Our team began as Oklahoma Angels ‘04 in the Fall of 2012. Our original team was started out of necessity because there was no such thing as travel ball in our city at that time. The only option young girls had was to play a 10-game rec season or drive 100 miles to find a team.
Where are you based and where do your players come from to play with the Hotshots?
We are based out of Ardmore, Oklahoma with players from Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama.
What was the purpose of creating the team… was it to showcase players, win titles, develop skills?
Our original purpose for starting the Angels was to develop skills and see where that took us.
What have been some of your successes in terms of winning or placing at events?
Over the course of the last six years this team has won multiple state championships and really made a name for themselves on the national level. It started with a 3rd place national finish in pitching machine in 2013.
The next two years the players and coached added a USSSA National runner-up and then a National Championship in 2015. In 2016 they were National runner-up again, this time at the USA Elite Select World Fastpitch Championship.
In 2017 they won what was their biggest tournament to date—The St Paddy’s Day Classic in Las Vegas—with a field of over 60 teams that included all of the Premier teams from the big organizations. That summer they also reached the Final Four of the USA Elite Select WFC in Kansas City, losing to the OC Batbusters and finishing 3rd.
Last year as a first-year 14U team they were able to qualify for the Premier Division at the PGF National Championships.
Talk about moving the Oklahoma Angels to the Hotshots organization this year and what led to that decision.
In 2019 we decided to make the move as we were having a hard time getting on the right fields at the big showcases because the Angels brand just wasn’t big enough yet. We reached out to our friend Nathan Nelson and he was willing to help us out and welcomed us immediately. We have a lot of respect for Nathan, the entire Hotshots organization, and what they have accomplished in a short amount of time.
What makes your program unique, in your opinion ?
Our organization is unique because of its origins. We are located in a town of 25,000 people. In 2012 there were no practice fields for the youth of Ardmore.
John Yeatts, my father, decided he would let us use part of his property to build a regulation softball field. He brought in over 400 semi-trucks of dirt to turn a sloping cow pasture into a laser graded playing surface.
After that, all the work was done by hand, from laying 70 pallets of sod in the outfield to spreading 80 tons of infield conditioner. Since that time, we have added a 3,200 square foot indoor facility that is nicer than most high schools in the area.
How many teams are there in the organization overall?
What started with one team of all local girls has grown into seven teams with players from five states.
Has there been a key moment or defining experience in the team's history?
The defining moments for our team have always centered around finding pitchers and catchers. I believe that is what gives you the ability to be elite, and we have been fortunate to always have multiple talented arms in the circle and plenty of leaders behind the dish.
What is your primary focus or goal with this team?
Our primary focus is to give these young ladies an avenue to chase their dreams.
What do you think are the strengths of the team? mepr-active memberships="1171, 692"]