This week’s Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of the Week is a 2019 Extra Elite 100 catcher and also a team captain who is a dangerous hitter and so feared behind the plate that teams rarely attempt to run on her…
Extra Inning Softball’s National High School Player of the Week
It’s not as if Neely Peterson, the outstanding senior catcher for Cypress Creek Middle/High School in Wesley Chapel, Florida, hadn’t been in big games before.
A member of the East Cobb Bullets 18U Gold team coached by Greg Schnute, Neely and her squad won the TC/USA Nationals club championship last summer and she caught all but two innings of the entire tournament.
The Colorado State signee—the first ever from Florida for the current Top 25 program—is a captain on the #3 seeded high school team this spring and really showed her leadership as she hit .800 for the week, going 8-for-10 with six RBIs and two walks in three games that helped Cypress Creek, a school that’s only been open for two years, reach a significant milestone in the school's athletic history.
“Winning the district championship was huge for us,” Neely told Extra Inning Softball today. “It was the first-ever district championship in our high school's history! We become more humble with each victory but we know that the fun is just beginning!”d
The three games couldn’t have gone more differently.
In the first contest, a matchup last Tuesday against Gulf High, the #6 seed, Neely’s Coyotes won handily 16-1 as the senior went 3-for-3 with three singles, an RBI and a walk.
The next day, Cypress Creek defeated Nature Coast Technical from Spring Hill, Florida, the #2 seed, 8-3 significant in that Neely’s team had lost five straight times in the series. In this win, however, the senior went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and four RBI.
Then came the big matchup as the Coyotes faced the top seed, Hernandon High of Brooksville, Florida, which had a 24-2 record and had defeated Neely’s squad four straight times.
The Coyotes, perhaps feeling the pressure, fell behind 5-0 and the senior captain had the only hit of the game heading into the bottom of the 5th inning.
Neely’s defense was critical, however, in keeping Cypress Creek in the game and the deficit to just five.
In the bottom of the 4th with runners on the corners, the catcher threw short to the second baseman who fired back home and Neely put the hard tag down to cut down the runner at home.
After two more walks in the same inning but with two outs, Neely threw behind the runner at third to pick her off and end the scoring threat, sending the momentum into the Coyotes’ favor.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Coyotes scored and, with runners on second and third and two outs, Hernando intentionally walked Neely to load the bases. The next batter doubled to clear the bases and the next batter hit a game-tying double as well.
In the bottom of the 5th with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs Hernando intentionally walked her. Next batter doubled in 3 runs (we had already scored 1 that inning) and the next batter doubled also to tie it up 5-5.
In the top of the 7th, the leadoff batter got on, advanced on a bunt stole third and came home on an overthrow error. Neely got a double shortly afterwards to drive in the final run of the game, giving the Coyotes a 7-5 victory but the district title wasn’t secured quite yet.
In the bottom of the 7th, Hernando loaded the bases loaded with only one out, but Neely made a defensive stop at the plate for out #2 and a grounder back to second ended the game and gave Cypress Creek the first-ever district championship for any team.
“The game against Hernando is by far one of my favorite games I have ever played,” Neely said. “During the comeback, everything clicked. Each member of my team came to the plate with the mindset of having the previous batter's back. Going into that game we knew we had nothing to lose and to let Hernando do all of the stressing.”
For the season, Neely is hitting .538—tied for first in the district—and her six home runs and 39 RBI are tied for second. She has a .595 on-base percentage and in 22 games has 35 hits. Her slugging percentage is 1.015, best in the district as well.
Defensively, the catcher hasn’t had an error all year and is 3-for-3 in nailing would-be base runners.
She calls her own pitches and hasn’t even had a passed ball on the season although she does have five pickoffs—four at third base and one at second.
Neely—named after Boston Bruin hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely—is a standout off the field as well as she's ranked #18 in her graduating class of 227, a member of the National Honor Society, English National Honor Society and American Sign Language National Honor Society.
Perhaps she comes up big in high pressure situations because she’s played with some of the best softball players her age for years.
Neely has played travel ball with USA Softball Jr. Team pitchers Callie Turner (Tennessee signee) and Lexi Kilfoyl (Alabama) since they were 10 years old (all three are seniors). A fun fact is Neely and Lexi were born on the same day in the same hospital about eight hours apart.
Or perhaps Neely’s big week was simply because she knew she needed to come up big when it counted.
“This week was really huge for us,” she explained, “and I knew that it was time for me to step up. I mainly just told myself to relax and let my swing do the work and it definitely did.”
Runner-Up Players of the Week
* Pitcher Morgan Brandon, a junior at Oak Ridge (Conroe, Texas) High, pitched perhaps the game of the year as she knocked off the top team in Texas and the #2 team in the country—Cedar Ridge High of Round Rock, Texas.
Brandon went a complete seven innings scattering just three hits and three walks while striking out six in the 3-1 huge upset win.
Oak Ridge will play Cy-Ranch in the Regional Quarterfinals this Friday at 5 pm CST at Grand Oaks High.
* Samantha Huck, a freshman pitcher/outfielder for Potosi (Missouri) High had a big week leading the Trojans to the district championship.
In three games in the district tournament, Samantha hit .545 going 6-for-11 with five RBIS and also pitched a full game and the last inning of the semi’s striking out 10 and winning the title game.
* Senior Nicolette Papavasiliou of Eagle Rock (Los Angeles, California) High had a memorable week as she not only went 5-for-11 in three games, she hit for the cycle in one contest as she went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI.
It was also a noteworthy week in two other respects: Eagle Rock earned its 3rd straight Northern League title and Nicolette, a Univ. of Dayton signee, passed two school alums to become the all-time hit leader in school history.
* Savanna DesRocher, a junior pitcher for Forney (Texas) High won two games in an area-round series throwing a complete game shutout with 15 strikeouts in the first win and then came back in the second and clinching win to strikeout 10 and lead Forney to the regional quarterfinals.
For the week she pitched 21 innings, had 31 K’s and gave up just three earned runs. The 5-foot-7 Kansas commit said led Forney to the Class 5A state title last year when she was 28-4 with a 1.02 ERA and also batted .584 and knocked in 56 runs.
* Alannah Rogers, a freshman second baseman/centerfielder and spot pitcher for Willow Canyon High in Surprise, Arizona, came up big in the playoffs as she batted .600 for the week including a 5-for-5 game against Sunnyslope High, which knocked out No. 1-ranked Sunrise Mountain earlier in the playoffs.
Alannah was asked to pitch in the 1st round playoff game against defending state champion Cienega (Class 5A) and, although it was only the fourth game she pitched all season, she re-entered as a pitcher with two outs and the tying run on third and the winning run on second and forced a ground ball out to help her team advance.
As a leadoff hitter this year, she’s batting .474 with a .545 on-base percentage and has compiled a .965 fielding percentage. She also has 21 steals.
* Junior Madelynn Solow of William Penn Charter High in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had a big week all in one game as she hit a two-run home and then a grand slam.
In three games, she hit .500 with four walks, five runs scored and six RBI. For the season she is hitting .493 with a .596 on-base percentage and has seven home runs, 34 runs and leads the team with 17 walks.
* Kennady Warder, a junior catcher and middle infielder for Bethlehem (Bardstown, Kentucky) High, has had a huge year and it’s not surprising she’s nominated for everything from Gatorade State Player of the Year to the Kentucky East/West All-Stars.
This week she went 7-for-11 (.636) with a home run, eight RBIs, three walks and three steals and that following a week when she was perfect at 12-for-12 with a homer, three triples, four doubles, 16 RBI and two steals.
Currently she’s batting .634 and below can be seen below hitting a home run on April 24 in a game in which she went 3-for-3 with a home run, triple, double and sac fly to account for six RBIs.
* Junior pitcher/first baseman Lauren Florez of Mill Valley High in Shawnee, Kansas has been the leading pitcher and batter on the 16-1 Jaguars who are the 6A Kansas Eastern Regional #1 seed.
Last week she pitched two shutouts and in 10 innings in the circle struck out 14 while giving up just two hits. Lauren also hit .615 for the week (8-for-13) and had eight RBIs.
The Pittsburg State signee is 11-1 on the season with a 2.24 ERA and has a .536 batting average with 24 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
* Isabella (Bella) Gerlach, a freshman leadoff hitter and middle infielder with North Harrison High in Ramsey, Indiana, had a big week going 8-for-12 in three wins as she had 10 RBI’s with two home runs, two triples, a double and six runs scored.
She leads the Hoosier State for batting average by a freshman at .632, slugging percentage at 1.421 and is tied for 4th in the state with nine home runs and 16 steals.
Bella, who also is a varsity goal keeper for North Harrison, has recruiting interest from Big Ten, SEC and ACC schools.
* Sophomore outfielder Addison Blair of South Caldwell High in Hudson, North Carolina, had a big 3A/4A Conference Tournament as she went 6-for-9 (.667) and came up clutch when it counted.
In the championship game against North Carolina’s 3A defending state champion Alexander Central, Addison went 3-for-4 with two home runs—including a walkoff in the 6th inning to run-rule the final score)—and had five RBIs enroute to being named the Tournament MVP.
* Abigael Pochie, a freshman at St. Laurence High in Burbank, Illinois, pitched two complete games with 16 K’s and one run unearned run in 14 innings.
For the season, the Viking pitcher who has Big Ten and other DI interest, has thrown eight complete game shutouts and leads her conference with 130 K’s.
She was also a 2022 Extra Elite Top 200-ranked player and is a three-time OnDeck Jamboree invitee (2017, ’18 and ’19).
In a rain-shortened week, the freshman right-hander was called in to throw in a key double-header conference matchup against another undefeated conference rival. Her two wins gave St. Laurence its first-ever conference title.
* Megan Schumacher, a Missouri signee and candidate for the PGF All-American Game as well as for New York Gatorade Player of the Year, made our list for the third time and it's very deserving.
The senior at John Jay-East Fishkill High in East Fishkill, New York,went 3-0 with 33 K’s and no runs allowed in 19 innings pitched. She also went 5-for-11 at the plate with three doubles and pitched a win over the #3 ranked team in New York.
* Junior pitcher/infielder Kendall Shank of Governor Mifflin High in Shillington, Pennsylvania, went 7-for-11 (.636) and so far in 19 games has not been struck out.
In the circle, she threw a 15-strike out one-hitter and in two other victories had 12 and nine K’s, respectively, the latter coming against one of the top-ranked state teams.
Kendall is uncommitted and will see her recruiting stock improve this summer playing for Team Long Island 18U DeMarini coached by Angel Manual and Jimmy Laird.
* Maelynn Leber, a junior pitcher for Eastern York (York, Pennsylvania) High, went 3-0 on the mound with 31 strikeouts versus just three walks in 21 innings.
She also threw a no-hitter in her second game of the week. At the plate she hit .700 and in one game had two home runs and five RBI.
For the season, Maelynn has throw 75 innings with 98 K’s and offensively is batting .552 with eight doubles and five home runs. In 49 plate appearances, she has yet to strikeout. The 5-foot-11 standout plays for Missy Cutchall’s Tri-State Thunder Gold our Maryland and is starting to see her recruiting stock take off.
* Junior pitcher/outfielder Maggie Darr of Ridge Point High in Missouri City, Texas, also came up huge in Texas playoffs as she pitched a 10 K complete game win in a one-game series of Round 2 (District 20-6A).
The 6-foot-2 standout also hit a bases-clearing line drive to right field in the 3rd inning and had a walk-off solo home run in the 7th inning to help Ridge Point earn its 8th consecutive area championship.
For the season Maggie has pitched 96 2/3rd innings for the Panthers going 15-1 with 112 K’s while compiling a .417 batting average.
Previous 2019 Extra Inning Softball National High School Players of the Week
- Apr. 29: OF/IF/P Angela Zedak (Marist, Chicago, Illinois)
- Apr. 22: SS Kali Heivilin (Three Rivers, Michigan)
- Apr. 15: 3B Trinity Cannon (Forney, Texas)
- Apr. 8: P/1B Sydney Supple (North, Oshkosh, Wisconsin)
- Apr. 1: OF Leea Hanks (Eustis, Florida)
- Mar. 25: P/IF Madison Inscoe (Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Suffolk, Virginia)
- Mar. 18: 1B/OF Avery Goelz (Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Florida)
- Mar. 11: OF/2B Tanya Windle (Cactus, Glendale, Arizona)
- Mar. 4: SS Hallie Wacaser (Bentonville West, Centerton, Arkansas)
- Feb. 25: P Stevie Hansen (Norco, California)
Each week during the spring and summer high school seasons, Extra Inning Softball will honor a National High School Player of the Week.
The honoree will be announced every Monday night/Tuesday morning; cutoff for submitting the nominations is each Sunday at 11 pm EST/8 pm PST.
We’re looking for standouts who excelled in the circle, at the plate or in the field so be sure to nominate your favorite performance(s) by submitting the following:
- Player Name
- Grad Year (example: Class of 2018 or Senior)
- High school team name with city/state
- Stats for the week (be as detailed as possible!)
- Up-to-date season stats if possible
- Recruiting information if applicable
- Any interesting background on the player
- Action and/or head shots
- If possible, contact info if we’d like more info or quotes
Email your info and photos (1-4 as available) by the cutoff of Sunday 11 pm EST/ 8 pm PST to: firstname.lastname@example.org.