Cassadie “Sadie” Armstrong is a 5-foot-10 pitcher/infielder from Portland, Maine who is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the Class of 2023 and has been busy this fall guesting for top national organizations including the Firecrackers and the Birmingham Thunderbolts.
A regular blogger for Extra Inning Softball, she has been lauded for her keen insights on topics ranging from gender equality to wearing facemasks in softball and in this blog writes on her experiences at three of the most high-profile showcase events of the fall and how her perception of showcasing has changed.
Sadie’s honors have included being named a two-time All American by USA Softball, a member of USSSA Elite Select Futures and chosen as a Pre-Season Rookie by Under Armour Softball Factory thanks to a 62-mph screwball and a 61-mph dropball with consistent ball exit velocity speeds in the high 60s to low 70s.
This summer she led her USA All American Northeast Region One team to a 5th place finish at the USA Softball All-American Games with a 0.00 ERA.
When Extra Inning Softball suggested that I write about my experiences showcasing this fall, I knew it would be a difficult assignment. I have never given a “review” before but more importantly, I just knew I would not like many aspects of showcasing. Sure, I get to play awesome teams from all over the country and I get to play at some amazing venues.
But did you notice that I was describing where “I” play and not where “we” play?
Showcasing is, by nature, a selfish approach to the game. You feel that you must do everything you can to shine (or outshine others) and really, that is not the essence of softball. Softball is the truest of team efforts and I assumed that showcase style of play can zap the lifeblood of the game right from it.
For instance, sacrifice flies and bunts are the epitome of unselfish “team first” playing. You literally sacrifice yourself for your teammate. I sensed that instead, when you showcase, you are not supposed to be worrying about your team’s win. Rather, you are worried about standing out and being noticed and hopefully in good ways.
Well, I DO want to be noticed in a good way. So, because of that, I decided that I AM NOT GOING TO SELFISHLY PLAY “showcase style” even in my showcase games. I am going to trust that the spectators evaluating me will know that I did not dive for a ball to show off that I can, when someone else has a better angle and could make a more efficient play, because it is better softball.
I am going to fly out or hit behind a runner to advance my teammate on the bases when my coach asks that of me, or I will pitch a dropball for contact and induce easy outs because good ball isn’t always glamorous. I am going to have faith that college coaches know the reason that certain plays go down at certain times and that it is more important to show I am coachable and a good teammate because my skills will be apparent if I do my job. After all, in college, the wins matter.
I have overheard players who are more seasoned than I am at showcasing complain that they wish there was a way to play on your toes and with the same passion and selflessness that you would exhibit in a tournament when a national title is on the line. They invariably describe their best softball performances as being in these clutch situations. They also have more fun in clutch situations. If you don’t want the ball or wish it was you up to bat in a big game, you are missing a genetic component of being a softball player!
PROSWINGS POWER 50:
My first showcase of the season was October’s Pro Swings Power 50 at Soldiers Creek (Florida). Stephanie Best organized a tournament in which the country’s top college coaches vote for the teams they want to see play with the goal being that the best 50 teams in the nation turn out. Ms. Best has guaranteed three things with her ideas:
1. The coaches are vested in who is coming and it will draw their attendance;
2. The teams are top caliber and the competition makes for close and exciting games; and
3. There is actually a bracket winner.
With new recruiting rules in effect, Ms. Best’s hybrid tournament/showcase is particularly appealing to players and their coaches and hopefully to college coaches as well.