The Vaughn Sports Academy Lady Lions softball program continues to provide opportunities for rising players to take their game to the next level.
The VSA Lady Lions, based out of Lake Charleston Park in Lake Worth, has competed at a high level against the competition in the state. The softball program features several teams, including 8U, 10U, 14U, 16U and the 18U showcase squad.
David Scharf serves as the Vaughn Sports Academy Lady Lions board president. The West Boynton Lady Bandits travel softball program formed into the Lady Lions about two years ago as a result of the relationship built with the Vaughn Sports Academy and partnership at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton. The Vaughn Sports Academy was founded by Mo Vaughn, a former MLB three-time All-Star and American League MVP.
“We collectively saw an opportunity to professionalize the travel program to bring more exposure to give young players the opportunity to improve their skills and prepare them for their careers at the high school level and then on to college,” Scharf said. “With the assistance of VSA and Mr. Vaughn’s guidance, our plan is to create one of the most elite softball programs in the nation.”
The 16U and 18U teams participate in college showcase tournaments in the southeastern United States, which are attended by hundreds of college coaches and feature top players at events.
The VSA Lady Lions have several players who were recognized as all-county selections for their high school team and finalists for player of the year. Danielle Deaton was the recipient of the 2021 Land Rover Palm Beach Player of the Year scholarship. The program also has produced players to the collegiate level, which includes Florida Atlantic University, Holy Cross, University of Maine, Stetson, Indian River, Daytona State, St. John’s and Hillsdale College.
Scharf serves as the coach of the 18U group.
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“The best part about our team is how they play together,” he said. “College coaches love to see how we execute offensively and defensively and how we play a team style of softball. That makes kids very marketable for the next level and coaches see that the players are polished and can step right in and play.”
The VSA Lady Lions 14U team, which includes eighth- and ninth-graders, has enjoyed success on the field. They won six tournaments and finished with a 34-7 record during the fall. They previously won the NSA state title last June.
The VSA Lady Lions 14U squad recently had an impressive performance and made a statement to capture the 2022 Florida PGF state championship in Newberry during June. They finished 7-1 in the tournament, which includes competing teams from other states. The 14U squad won the Briana Marie Cox Memorial Tournament at Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach during the spring. They will also play in its first showcase summer tournament outside of the state as they travel to Tennessee.
The VSA Lady Lions 14U team, under the direction of coach Eric Ristau, includes Molly Martin, Mya Rosa, Holly Frankl, Hannah Durante, Savanna Latone, Kate Ristau, Angeline Mergen, Madelyn Touchet, Keaganne Glidden and Angelina Pena.
“We have a core group of girls who have worked really hard for several years and are dedicated to playing softball,” Ristau said. “The girls identified they want to play the sport at the next level and have aspirations to play in college. We want them to get in front of the right people. The girls also do extra work outside of our practices. They are seeing all that work pay off.”
Jason Block serves as the president of the West Boynton Girls Fastpitch Recreational League. The recreational program has helped several players to develop and improve their skills to advance and reach the travel level. The recreational program is preparing for league play in the fall and is open to ages 4 to 17.
The Vaughn Sports Academy has former professional and minor league players who provide baseball instruction and clinics as well as individual, group and team lessons. Visit vaughnsportsacademy.com.