LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Five travel ball programs were selected by their peers as the NFCA Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year, the Association announced on Tuesday.
Representing each of the NFCA’s five travel ball regions, Len Maltese / NJ Heat Prospect 18U (East), Donny Dreher & Alec Lesko / Finesse 16U Dreher/Lesko (North), Roberto Arroyo / Team Virginia Mizuno (South), Mariah Haygood / 14U Texas Glory Naudin (South Central) and Charles Pikas / All American Sports Academy Pikas 16U (West) - are now eligible for the NFCA Travel Ball National Coaching Staff of the Year award, which will be announced on Oct. 4.
Regional Winners East – NJ Heat Prospects 18U
Head Coach: Len Maltese
Carried a roster of 12 in 2021 with nine graduating high school and playing at the college of their choice with the other three entering their senior years … Instilled several core values into the squad, including a strong work ethic and punctuality, while also teaching players to be coaches on the field, as catchers called pitches and field players called defenses … Posted several top-four finishes in summer showcases, including USA Softball state qualifier.
North – Finesse 16U – Dreher/Lesko (Mich.)
Head Coaches: Donny Dreher & Alec Lesko
Captured 2021 USA Softball 16U Gold Nationals with a perfect 8-0 record … Posted three top-10 finishes at DeMarini Invite (5th), JO Cup (7th) and Colorado Fireworks (9th) … Finished ranked 20th in Post-Summer Extra Elite rankings … Following the season, coach Lesko announced his retirement to spend more time with his grandchildren.
South – Team Virginia Mizuno - Arroyo
Head Coach: Roberto Arroyo
Assistant Coaches - George Fellman & Heather Gary
Regarded as one of the most consistent and well-respected coaches in the state of Virginia … Played an integral part in assisting several student-athletes fulfill their dream of playing collegiate softball, while also preparing them to become leaders on and off the field ... Roster is made of homegrown talent and great pride is taken in teaching fundamental softball ... Received at-large berths to compete at USA ELITE SELECT World Fastpitch Championships and PGF Nationals ... Won bracket at Glory's Strike Out Cancer Invitational ... Student-athletes take pride in their work off the field, posting a 4.0 GPA.
South Central – 14U Texas Glory Naudin
Head Coach: Mariah Haygood
Assistant Coach: Lee Velazquez
Posted first-place finishes at Tulsa Elite Invitational, Texas Glory Summer Shootout and TFL Summer Championship … Ranked fifth overall in the Post Summer Extra Elite 100 14u Club Team rankings … Placed in final four at rain-shortened Top Club Nationals and fifth at Alliance Nationals.
West – All American Sports Academy Pikas 16U (Calif.)
Head Coach: Charles Pikas
Assistant Coach: Dave Cardoza
Registered a 52-13-3 record in 2021 and captured the organization’s first-ever PGF National Championship… Posted an unblemished 11-0 mark at PGF Nationals … Took home the PGF Memorial Day tournament title and earned a championship berth at the Alliance Nationals … Went 3-1-1 at Pro Swings Elite 50 and 8-3 (two losses coming against tourney champ Bombers-McCorkle) at Fireworks Elite 50 … Ranked seventh in the Alliance Pacific Coast League standings with three wins over higher-ranked teams … Captured victories over the No. 8, 16, 22 and 37 ranked teams in the Extra Innings Final.