The Polar Crush is a girls Fastpitch Softball Organization that is currently in it's twenty sixth season. No softball
organization in New England has been around longer or have placed more players in college softball programs. If
you take a look at our alumni page you will see where the players have been and are currently playing.
The Crush currently have four 18 and under softball programs that travel the showcase circuit. The Gold program
travels the country, with stops in Orlando, FL, Boulder, CO and Pennsbury, PA. The Gold program focuses on a
National schedule while the "Elite" program is a Regional college showcase team. The "Elite" program stays in the
Northeast with stops in CT, RI and NY.
The Crush was started in 1991 by Brent Vigness who is currently in his 19th season as head coach at Creighton.
Through the mid 90's into the early 2000's the Crush were led by Matt Palumbo. The 2000's brought Ron and Robyn
We welcome to you to contact us directly if you have any questions about our program. Thank you for visiting our
If you are looking for the best you have come to the right place!
PLAINVILLE — For the college coaches behind the backstop, the loud “thwack” that came from Alissa Karjel’s
bat was a conversation-stopper. She turned around an ill-fated pitch and deposited it over the left-field fence
at the Plainville Athletic League’s Nelson Field in an instant.
When Karjel crossed the plate, coaches in the bleachers craned their necks to make sure they got her jersey
It was one of the moments that make tournaments like the New England’s Finest Showcase (organized by the
Plainville-based Rhode Island Thunder) worthwhile for both players and college coaches.
Karjel is a soon-to-be junior at Hopkinton High who plays for Polar Crush Gold, a travel softball team that
draws players from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, and New York.
She and her teammates, who include Liv Sloane of Newton North and Lexi Harvey of Natick High — played six
games in early August as part of the New England’s Finest Showcase, which hosted 114 travel teams and
coaches from more than 120 colleges.
In a 11-2 win over New Jersey Inferno, Karjel had a single to go along with her home run, and Sloane pitched
three innings, allowing one run. Both knew that to play well in front of a handful of college coaches increased
their odds, however slightly, of attaining a scholarship.
“It feels good,” Karjel said.
Polar Crush Gold played in six showcase tournaments this summer, including four out of state. Although its
players are accustomed to trying to impress college coaches, it can still be a nerve-racking endeavor.
“It makes me kind of nervous,” Sloane said. “But then I zone it out and I’m fine. I just try not to look back there
[behind the backstop] and focus on the catcher.”
Parents in attendance are not immune from feeling the pressure, either. Many serve as de facto travel
coordinators, nutritionists, and trainers during their daughters’ weekend trips.
In Plainville, they lined the edges of fields, watching intently.
“I’m the father of a pitcher, and when she’s in the circle, my stomach’s always turning,” Todd Sloane said. “I’m
nervous, but I think that comes with the territory. I also know that she works hard to practice and prepare so
that when she goes in, when needed, she can do her best.”
According to Eric Karjel , Alissa’s father and the athletic director at Hopkinton High, showcase tournaments
have become one of the only ways to be recruited by college softball coaches.
Years ago, a junior might be worried about making her high school varsity team. Now Karjel and Sloane, both
two years away from going off to college, are already looking into campuses they like. They have even mulled
which majors they might study as a way to narrow their college selections.
In general, playing in showcase tournaments has made players more college-ready, Eric Karjel said.
“College people say when the kids get there, they used to really have to talk to players about responsibility,”
he said. “Now most girls are used to doing homework in the car, on planes, waiting in airports. They’re sort of
already conditioned. They’re ready for the travel, they’re accustomed to doing homework when they can.”
Lynn Coutts , the head coach at the University of Maine, and her husband, Mike , an assistant with the Black
Bears, spent almost 12 hours a day watching games over three days at the New England’s Finest Showcase.
Lynn Coutts said they look for play on the field, but their scouting goes deeper than that.
“We also watch them interact,” she said. “We don’t just watch them play. I watch them when they’re off the
field. I watch them when they’re at the snack shop, how they deal with their parents. I watch them when they
make a mistake.”
There are very strict rules in place to regulate interactions between high school players and college coaches.
For Karjel and Sloane, not yet juniors, coaches are not allowed to return e-mails or phone messages. They
can, however, speak to players who make unofficial visits to campuses. Once their junior years begin in
September, they can communicate more freely.
Until then, players have to let their play speak. Even though the New England’s Finest Showcase was the last
of the summer for Polar Crush Gold, the team’s players have more chances to play in front of college coaches
before their high school seasons.
Polar Crush Gold’s fall season starts at the end of the month and the team will travel to tournaments in New
Jersey, Florida, and Nevada.
Up and coming softball stars showcase talents - Boston Globe
By Phil Perry | Globe Correspondent August 11, 2013