The Eighth Man

Guest Column: Southwest Beater Analysis

By Sam Selle, Guest Writer

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Eighth Man as a whole, nor any member of it’s staff.

There is a fine line between good beaters and great ones, and it’s drawn around the ability to win a beater matchup and translate this dominance into goals. This distinction between winning and dominating is crucial because it’s the difference between scoring goals off of positive beater interactions or not. This fine line is visibly present in the Southwest, and the varying tiers of athletes in the region’s collegiate beating game. Looking at these Southwest college beaters, we will break down individual playstyles as well as present some highlight film of the top-tier players at their best to explore the difference between the good and the great. Note: beaters within tiers are ordered alphabetically by first name.

Tier One

A tier one beater has the ability to adapt to any given matchup by changing their style of play to consistently dominate in any situation.

Daniel Williams (UTSA, No. 5): Daniel Williams, captain of UTSA and a USNT Developmental Academy member, is at the very top of collegiate beating. His name has become one of the hottest buzzwords this season. He makes use of his small stature to speed around the pitch, out-hustling opponents while baiting throws to either throw back or catch. While his speed and catching abilities are impressive, it’s his ability to make split second decisions that gives him an edge over opponents. Williams has a talent for making the right decision and quickly. Not only does he consistently make the correct play in any given interaction, but he also knows when he needs to change his playstyle to win a matchup. This is probably best seen in the 2020 Alamo Cup final where UTSA faced Texas. Williams played very conservatively on both offense and defense compared to his normal style, maintaining control for his team’s 2-2 defense that gave Texas a very hard time.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 41:28)

Tate Kay (University of Texas, No. 7): Currently the only USNT player in the collegiate scene, Tate Kay has proven himself as an elite beater on some of the biggest stages. It is important to remember that while Kay is explosive at times, it is his ability to analyze a situation and act in the right way at the right time that creates these explosive moments. In fact, Kay’s greatest strength is his ability to adapt his style to any given situation. Take for example the 2019 A&M Classic final between Texas and Texas Hill Country Heat: As soon as Kay subbed in, Heat sent in Hallie Pace and Bailee Fields to meet his aggression. But  Kay didn’t play his normal style, opting instead to split jump and throw back to absorb their aggression, resulting in multiple presses and Heat quickly subbing Josh Mansfield for Pace.

o   Highlight Film:  (Play ends 3:23)

Tier Two

A tier two beater has the natural talent and experience to consistently dominate with their familiar style of play.

Baldemar “Balde” Nunez (SHSU, No. 14) and Katherine “Kat” Hayworth (SHSU, No.9): This beating pair has played together for the majority of their college careers in both USQ and MLQ, and that experience shows. In an important game, Nunez and Hayworth play together for the majority of the match with a small break right before snitch on pitch. Throughout the match, they focus on slowing down the pace to conserve energy and make smart plays off one another to get and maintain control. One of their more unique moves surfaces on offense while trying to get control: Nunez will first bait an opposing beater to throw at him, then passes his bludger to Hayworth while simultaneously spinning around. Hayworth now has a bludger, with the other one flung off in some random direction. Hayworth will then advance towards the tossed bludger, to ward off the opposing beater with the ball she received from Nunez. With unique plays like this added to their good positioning, it’s clear why this pair has been able to do so much for their teams.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 36:18)

Jack Wang (Texas, No. 11): After ending his first season with a solid performance at USQ Cup 12, Jack Wang has since honed his skills to the point of playing an equal number of minutes as Texas Captain Kay. Wang’s style of play revolves around his ability to outplay his opponent in 1v1 interactions, something he often calls “the dance”. With his ability to split jump, catch, block and throw as well as read his opponent’s intentions, Wang often looks to react to what his opponent is doing and respond with the optimal move. This talent, along with sound game knowledge, allows him to create opportunities for his team to score off of positive beater interactions.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 9:30)

John Molina (Texas State University, No. 71): John Molina is currently the only USQ club champion playing at the collegiate level and, thus, is a bit out of place when compared to the average collegiate beater. “To throw or not to throw”–this is always the question on Molina’s mind. With his unique left-handed, arm-heavy throw, Molina is a master of the pump fake and uses it extremely effectively to bait less-experienced beaters into either throwing at him or back to their own hoops. When faced with beaters of his skill level, he employs the same strategy–but this time, he will be the one that throws either at the opponent or back to his hoops when they least expect it.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 30:08)

Tier Three

The beaters in tier three have the natural talent and/or experience to dominate some matchups with their familiar style of play.

Allie Messenger (UTSA, No. 4): The other buzzword this season was Allie Messenger, the first-year beater with enough raw talent to rival that of Hallie Pace (the “-allie” legacy continues). Messenger has a very good throw and pump fake that set her apart from others who normally assume a similar role as the free beater. On defense, she uses this strength to get opposing chasers to make errant passes and clean up the mess. Additionally, she does a very good job focusing on the quaffle, especially considering her inexperience. When she’s placed in chaotic situations, however, this inexperience tends to show. A good example of the rookie’s vulnerability emerged during the USNT Southwest Training Camp, when she struggled in situations without her UTSA partner, Williams, and was left alone to clean up an interaction while on offense.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 5:48)

Credit: Shana Travis

Baldemar “Balde” Nunez (SHSU, No. 14): While together Nunez and Hayworth rise to tier two status, Nunez settles comfortably into tier three without his partner with his years of beating experience in USQ, MLQ and the IQA. Even when he’s not with Hayworth, he has a very slow style of play. He normally looks to catch–and can basically do so with any throw directed below his chest– but also has a strong, accurate throw when he chooses to make the first move. However, if he’s not in the middle of an interaction, he often walks around the pitch, which can be exploited by making plays when he is still far away.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 12:08)

Katherine “Kat” Hayworth (SHSU, No. 9): Like her partner, Hayworth has years of experience beating in USQ and MLQ. With or without Nunez, she is a physical player not afraid to tackle her opponents. She often catches beaters off-guard, resulting in a very surprised opponent stripped of their bludger. On top of this physicality, Hayworth uses her height to make good throws and catch weaker ones. However, Hayworth tends to be overly aggressive when she has control on offense and can be easily beat if she gets too close to the opponent’s hoops.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 9:09)

Sam Selle (Texas, No. 64): A member of the 2018-19 Austin Quidditch team that made it to the Sweet 16, Selle has since moved to Texas, where he’s used as a mid-match adrenaline shot. He has a fast-paced playstyle that focuses on out-hustling opponents and using his pump fake to get opponents to throw on their back foot. He takes every opportunity to catch opponents off guard, make a tap beat or just scare the quaffle carrier. However, his playstyle relies on moving quickly and gets significantly worse when his stamina runs out.

o   Highlight Film: (Play ends 15:22)

Tier Four

The beaters in tier four have the natural talent and/or experience to win some matchups with their familiar style of play.

  • Aron Gebremicael (A&M, No. 19): Years of experience, good throw-back, good decision-making
  • Cameron Ogilvie (Texas State, No. 3): Years of experience, good catch, weak throw, great decision-making
  • Celine Richard (LSU, No. 29): Years of experience, good block, good decision-making
  • Connor McIntyre (A&M, No. 7): Raw athleticism, strong throw, good decision-making
  • Richmond Keeling (Texas, No. 69): Strong throw, good 1.5 play, good decision-making
  • Shaniah Carroll (A&M, No. 5): Years of experience, good catch, good decision-making
  • Thomas Morgan (SHSU, No. 99): Years of experience, physical play, good decision-making

Tier Five

The beaters in tier five have the natural talent and/or experience to win weaker matchups with their familiar style of play.

  • Alex Navarro (Austin, No. 2): Many years of experience, good sidestep dodge, weak throw, good decision-making
  • Bradley Himes (Texas State, No. 17): Years of experience, strong but inaccurate throw, decent decision-making
  • Fredrick Zarazua (LSU, No. 9): Years of experience, relatively slow, good decision-making
  • Kayse Bevers (Texas, No. 20): Raw athleticism, strong throw, decent decision-making
  • Mehgan Orsak (A&M, No. 11): Years of experience, good decision-making
  • Melissa Kite (Texas State, No. 20): Quick, good decision-making
  • Nate Saldivar (UTSA, No. 6): Good catch, weak throw, decent decision-making
  • Samuel Sobarzo (A&M, No. 23): Raw athleticism, lacks experience and game knowledge, decent decision-making
  • Tess Acosta (Texas State, No. 25): Years of experience, good decision-making

Tier Six

The beaters in tier six have the natural talent and/or experience to play even in most matchups with their familiar style of play.

  • Ahmed Makin (Bobcats, No. 22): Years of experience, decent decision-making
  • Christian Bola (UTSA, No. 33): Good catch, strong but inaccurate throw, decent decision-making.
  • Gabe Garcez (Baylor University, No. 77): Good catch, decent decision-making
  • JC Mayo (Austin, No. 0): Relatively slow, good decision-making
  • Marilyn Melendez (Texas Tech University, No. 8): Strong throw, decent decision-making
  • Maya Hinebaugh (Texas State, No. 30): Physical play, decent decision-making
  • Miles Travis (A&M, No. 44): Years of experience, decent decision-making
  • Purvi Mujumdar (Texas, No. 5): Strong throw, decent decision-making
  • Stefan Matthews (LSU, No. 36): Years of experience, decent decision-making.

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