Five athletes from the Diamond Devils 12U travel fastpitch softball team, based out of Adairsville, competed in the 2019 Youth Softball All-American Games from Jan. 2-5 in Orlando, Florida.
Four of the five girls (Gabi Becerra, Peyton Dorn, Alissa Winters and Sadie Raughton) are students at Adairsville Middle School, while the other (Rebecca Tippett) attends Red Bud Middle School in Calhoun.
According to Diamond Devils coach Rich Taylor, the girls started every game of the tournament for their respective teams after being nominated while playing in a national tourney held in Louisville, Kentucky, in the previous spring season against teams from all over the country. In order to receive a nomination, each player had to receive an all-star vote while playing in Kentucky.
A Class of 2024 catcher and center fielder, Alissa Winters received the first Gold Glove award given by the association at the All-American games, according to Taylor.
"She is the very definition of a leader," Taylor said of Winters. "Any coach across the nation would be lucky to have a player of her caliber. If she is down, you'll never know it. I rely on her heavily to keep our team in the right mindset in every game we play. What she brings to the game is immeasurable by mere stats alone, although she leads our team in several categories. Don't run on her if she's behind the plate and if she is on the base path, don't throw it — she's already there."
Rebecca Tippett — a Class of 2024 pitcher, first baseman and third baseman — earned a Silver Slugger Award at the All-American Games and finished second in the home run derby, per Taylor.
"She is a true power hitter," Taylor said of Trippett. "Leads her team in home runs and RBIs on a consistent basis. In the circle, she is a force to be reckoned with, topping out most radar guns at 54 at the age of 12. I have never seen a more dedicated player and certainly have never seen a kid hit like her. One of a kind."
The lone Class of 2025 player from the Diamond Devils to feature in the All-American Games, third baseman/second baseman Sadie Raughton played in her division's championship game but fell short.
"You wouldn't be able to tell that she is one of my younger players, as she has played up in the 14U age group all fall," Taylor said of Raughton. "Behind her young face is a seasoned player and a brick wall that balls rarely get by. I don't call her 'BoJack' for nothing, there is literally nothing this kid can't do. A multi-sport athlete with a desire to be the best. Her attitude is contagious and a blessing to have around. There isn't another one like her."
According to Taylor, Peyton Dorn — a Class of 2024 left-handed pitcher and first baseman — allowed no earned runs over four innings with three strikeouts and one walk during the All-American Games.
"I have yet to see a better first baseman in the game at this age level," Taylor said of Dorn. "Her ability to stretch out for a ball to get an out is unmatched by anyone. After only pitching for a year, she has several bracket game wins, including a tournament championship game win and a Fall World Series championship. If she maintains her current pace, she could be one of the best lefties on the rubber this area has to offer. Much like her teammate, she loves to steal and does it with confidence and ease. If she reaches first, just count her as on second."
Gabi Becerra took up a utility role during the All-American Games, playing multiple positions and even pitching an inning, according to Taylor.
"She plays the game how she lives her life — with heart," Taylor said of Becerra. "She's become a solid, well-rounded athlete capable of playing all nine positions. Not many players can say they are that versatile. Only player I have to be a Nationals All-Star and an All-American in the same year. Gabi never says no and is truly committed to her team. Her ability to look beyond a mistake has made her into the player she has become and speaks volumes to the players around her. She is exactly what you look for in a player."