Contributed by Janae Melvin, Midwest Sports Productions
It’s one of the top elite level fastpitch tournaments in the country and this week, more than 200teams will arrive in Kansas City with the sole goal of bringing home the Top Gun Invitational championship. The crown jewel for Top Gun Events, the Top Gun Invitational features some of the top clubs in that nation in the 18U, 16U, 14U and 12U divisions.
“The Top Gun Invitational has grown into the premier recruiting event for the Kansas City region,” said Robb Behymer, founder of Top Gun Events. “This weekend’s event will draw interest from more than 150 college coaches coming to town to watch 224 teams compete.”
Pool play kicks off Thursday, June 13 and continues through mid-day Saturday, June 15, with bracket play beginning later on Saturday. The championship games are slated for Sunday afternoon and evening with the 18U Maverick division crowning their champ at 1pm, the 14U Maverick division at 3:30 p.m. and the 16u Maverick division wrapping up at 6 p.m. New to the 2019 tournament is the Viper Division, which opened up the invitational tournament to more teams looking to compete at the highest level.
“Using Flo Softball’s End of Season Rankings, 32 of 92 Maverick Division teams are ranked in the Top 50. We pride ourselves on exceptional hospitality, quality umpiring and an overall experience that cannot be matched anywhere in the country,” said Behymer.
The tournament festivities start on Wednesday, June 12, with the Top Gun Invitational Camp, led by Wichita State University head coach Kristy Bredbenner. The camp will take the more than 100 players registered through a series of drills and athletic testing conducted by collegiate coaches at all levels.
A highlight of the week is the annual Top Gun Prospect Games on Wednesday night. Participants were nominated by their coaches and chosen by a Top Gun panel to round out a roster of “Players to Watch” throughout the tournament. Players graduating in the years 2020 and 2021 will face-off against each other at 5 p.m. followed by the 2022 and 2023 game at 7 p.m. Being name to the Top Gun Prospect Games is an opportunity that athletes work towards throughout their season.
College coaches from across the country will also be in town scouting the immense amount of talent on the diamond. Universities represented include 2019 Women’s College World Series participant Minnesota, Northwestern, Texas Tech, Texas, Houston, Kansas, Missouri and
“I truly believe all the planning and detail to attention for this event has resulted in its climb to the top of the recruiting events in the around,” said Behymer. “And nowhere is that more evident than in the level of competition the fans will see regardless of the ballpark they are at.”
Some of the teams to watch during the Top Gun Invitational are:
Oklahoma Athletics 18u Premier Madden
St Louis Chaos – Beatty
Top Gun Academy Angels
Nebraska Gold 18u – Swift
Tulsa Elite 18u National
Select Fastpitch 18u
KC Pepper Gold
Colorado Stars – Sakamoto
Tulsa Elite OKC 2002
St Louis Chaos 03 – Beatty/Benck
OK Impact Gold-Lyon
South Dakota Renegades 2003 Gold
OK Exclusive Premier Hughes
Top Gun Academy – Turner
Oklahoma Athletics 04 Premier Madden
Texas Glory Naudin
Ohio Outlaws Johnson
A full schedule of games can be found at www.topgunevents.com. Ballparks will open one hour before the first game of the day. Admission for the day is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids. For those who can’t make it to Kansas City for the weekend, the championship games will be live streamed for free at usssalive.com.