Three Jackson County softball players help travel team to championship


For most players, the softball season doesn’t end when the final out is recorded during the high school season.

Once the final frame has reached completion, it doesn’t take long for the travel season to kick in.

One of the top teams in the area, Indiana Dreams Foster, an 18U program that draws players from Bartholomew, Jackson, Johnson and Scott counties, recently competed in the Premier Girls Fastpitch Southeast Regional Championships.

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Thanks to the help from some local talent, the Dreams were able to walk away as co-champions of the tourney that ran July 16 through 20 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Three of Jackson County’s top players from this past spring were represented on the team: Savannah Harweger, Rachel Kaufman and Grace Meyer.

Kaufman and Meyer played together on Seymour’s softball team, while Harweger was a member of Trinity Lutheran’s squad.

Both Harweger and Kaufman graduated in May. Meyer played up an age group and is entering her junior year at SHS.

After pool play, the Dreams, coached by Columbus’ Jeremy Foster, were seeded. The team lost its opening game in bracket play to Atlanta (Georgia) Premier but bounced back.

“We played two games on Friday and then had to play five games on Saturday,” Foster said. “We basically started at 9 a.m., and the final was at 7 pm. The heat was unbelievable, and we were only down to 10 players. We had a limited team in that heat, including two pitchers and two catchers. We made due with what we had, and they just decided they weren’t going to lay down.

“The games were 100 minutes long for seven innings. That’s not normal for travel ball. It’s typically 75 to 90. They battled and made it all the way back to the championship and beat a lot of good teams along the way.”

Three of the games the Dreams played were in a row on the last day.

In the finals against Minneapolis, Minnesota-based TC Blitz, the Dreams held a 2-0 lead before there was a tornado warning. The game would be called early due to incoming rain with the teams splitting the title honors.

The Dreams outscored opponents 77-27 in the tournament.

Foster has coached travel softball for years in the surrounding area.

“I started a lot of local kids here under Red Alert. We started local, and then as we got older and better, kids came and went,” Foster said. “We kept the core kids together since the time they were 10. There were five girls I was coaching since they were 9-year-olds. We switched organizations when they got to high school to more regional organizations so we could get into more showcase-type tournaments.

“We did that for a year, and then the Indiana Dreams organization contacted us about bringing our team to their organization, which got us into more national-type tournaments. This was our second full year as the Indiana Dreams, which is based out of Lebanon, Indiana.”

The Dreams went 22-6-2 overall this summer, playing in showcases inside and outside the state when weather cooperated.

The three Seymour natives — all of whom made The Tribune’s All-County team this past spring — will take different routes this upcoming year.

Harweger will join Marian University in Indianapolis, Kaufman is headed to Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois, and Meyer will look to continue to play at SHS.

Foster said Harweger and Kaufman will do great things in the collegiate ranks.

“I’ve known Savannah since she was 9 years old,” Foster said. “She is one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached without a doubt. When coaches show up, she immediately draws their attention because she has the size and athleticism that every coach looks for. She is a slap-hitter, and her speed really sets her apart.”

Harweger, a shorstop at Trinity, will join a Marian program that finished 54-3 in 2019-20, setting a program record for wins and best overall record and posting the first undefeated 50-0 start in school history. Marian’s season came to a close in the NAIA World Series in May.

“(Harweger) cannot only slap and bunt to get on base now, which puts so much pressure on the defense, but she has incorporated hitting away for power,” Foster said. “She led our team in home runs, which is unheard of from a slapper. She has turned into an all-around offensive player. It is almost impossible to defend her because she has so many tools. She has led our team in almost every statistical category. She just creates havoc on the bases.”

Harweger was committed to Austin Peay State University as a junior but decommitted after a coaching change.

“In my view, and I’m close with a lot of high school and travel coaches, Savannah Harweger is one of the top-15 players in the state of Indiana from just a pure softball player standpoint,” Foster said. “I think a lot of people would agree with me on that. She is a Division I talent, no question. She just chose to not go. We had Purdue and Ball State interested in her, and she was committed to Austin Peay before the coach left, but at the end of the day, she decided she didn’t want that daily grind of Division I athletics. She wanted to be able to go and play at a competitive program close to home.”

Harweger said she has enjoyed her time playing travel softball and has built relationships that will last a lifetime.

{span}”Jeremy has helped make me the player I am today,” she said. “Any time I need personal work done to improve my game, he always finds time to help me. He does everything he can for us girls to make it to the next level and to succeed. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to play for over the years.{/span}

{span}”Along with coach Foster and the rest of the team, they have become like family to me. To me personally, travel ball means an opportunity to get better and to enjoy playing the game I love with some of my best friends. This travel team has given me so many opportunities, friendships and memories.”{/span}

Kaufman, The Tribune’s Softball Player of the Year in 2018 and ‘19, will start working with a top-notch junior college in Lake Land.

Foster said he thinks Kaufman has the potential to really turn some heads in college and that Lake Land will be a major steppingstone.

“Rachel is one of the hardest-working kids I have been around. She is a student of the game. She knows who she is up against every game,” he said. “She puts in the time. She has worked really hard to be able to play at the college level. She is taking an interesting route in college because she had NCAA Division I, II, III and NAIA opportunities. Her goal, she wants to see if she can play for a power five school. We kind of got late to the recruiting game with her. Pitchers are usually the ones that are first to go. She has the potential now that she can play at a high major Division I.”

At Lake Land, Kaufman will hone in on her pitching.

“A lot of people don’t know Lake Land and are surprised she took that route,” Foster said. “Lake Land has a world-renowned pitching coach that’s over there, Denny Throneburg. Lake Land turns out Division I players on a regular basis. This is kind of a steppingstone for her to develop into that power five pitcher. They want her to get stronger and to work on her mechanics with a guy that has a proven track record.”

Kaufman said she has worked with Foster and company for the past three years, and she was challenged mentally and physically to be the best she could be with the program.

{span}”Travel ball has prepared me for college softball by giving me the experience of playing with and against college-level players,” Kaufman said. “Having teammates that have the same goal as you to play in college and a coach that is willing to put in time to make you a better player only creates more drive and initiative to reach your goals.”{/span}

In her sophomore year at SHS, Meyer, a catcher, had 28 hits with a .400 batting average. She finished with 25 RBI and had 10 hits for doubles, one triple and four home runs.

Meyer joined the current group of Indiana Dreams players this spring for the first time.

“Grace is just scratching the surface. Grace was a good player before she came to play for us, but she hadn’t been challenged at an elite level yet,” Foster said. “What we were able to do is catch her up a little bit to how much faster the game is played. She is an elite-level hitter. She is continuing to work on some things mechanically from a catching standpoint. I believe the sky is the limit for her. What she ends up doing is what she wants to do. She has some things Division I schools will look at. We are ecstatic that Grace decided to come play for us and that we’ve been able to work with her.”

Meyer said playing with the travel team was a good experience, and she will be playing fall ball and attending college camps in the coming months.{div dir=”auto”}”This team was a lot of fun,” she said. “I have made some good friends. All of the girls are committed to softball and want to win. They are willing to put the work in to make that happen.” {/div}Foster said during the tourney in Nashville, college coaches approached him about Meyer.

Ten of the 13 kids on the travel team are or were committed to collegiate programs going into the summer schedule.

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