Jacksonville Storm stripped of TC/USA National championship; ScrapYard Internationals and Glory Adkins declared 16 Open champions
The 16u Jacksonville Storm Girls Fastpitch Softball team was stripped of its National Championship within two hours after completion of the TC/USA Nationals 16 Open championship game in Cumming, GA., on July 12. Triple Crown Sports was contacted by team representatives following completion of the game notifying that they had played two age ineligible players in the semis and then one in the championship game. Both were over the legal age to play in this age group.
The ScrapYard Internationals and Glory Adkins Gold of Texas will be declared the Triple Crown USA National Champions in 16 Open. All other teams will move up one spot. The Storm will receive last place.
Triple Crown CEO Keri King and Executive Director of Fastpitch at TC Elliott Finkelstein have handed down the following punitive course of action:
This year’s Champions are as follows:
East Cobb Bullets-Schnute: 18 Open Champions
ScrapYard International and Glory Adkins Gold: 16 Open Champions
So Cal Choppers-Faucett- 14 Open Champions
The Triple Crown USA Nationals is one of the most highly regarded season ending Championships with more than 60 percent of the Top 50 Clubs participating based on USClubRankings.com.
by Kyle Koso
If the East Cobb Bullets-Schnute 18's are looking for a nickname, they might want to consider the Boomerangs.
This is a team you'd expect to see return for more.
With a young roster featuring 14 players who will likely suit up next year, the Bullets wrapped up an impressive run in the TC/USA Nationals on Thursday, winning a tight, tense 18 Open semifinal before storming past the Texas Bombers Gold in the championship game, 20-8, at Fowler Park in Cumming, GA.
It's unusual to see a title game at this level finish with a run-rule, but the Bullets have that look of a squad that can blow past other's expectations. They took a four-run lead against the Bombers, then batted around the next two innings to drain away any drama, in comparison to their 5-4 win over the ScrapYard Internationals in the semis.
Kassidy Krupit (heading to Baylor this fall) had two doubles, two runs and four RBI for the Bullets; Neely Peterson (Colorado State), Anslee Finch (Troy University) and Madi Perry each had three RBI and Leea Hanks (Notre Dame) dazzled at the leadoff spot with three hits, three runs and two RBI.
"The (semifinal) showed that every little bit of effort we give, matters. That was a game that had us thinking, we don't want to be in that situation again," Krupit said. "Perseverance is a good word for us ... earlier in the tournament we were down 6-0 to the North Carolina Bandits, had an awful first inning, but we came back. Same as in the semis; they knocked in runs, we came back and got the W. We wanted to push through anything."
The Bombers did touch Alabama-bound pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl for several runs, but any lift from those moments was quickly undercut by another burst of Bullets offense.
"We were pretty hyped for the final. After the semi, we were upbeat, and we'd played the Bombers before so it was nothing new," said Perry, who reached base four times and is circling a new college option after a coaching change at Kennesaw State compelled her to start the process again. "You don't want to get up by that much and let the other team back in, but we were both hitting, and I think everyone was tired. I just go up there and try to swing at strikes, hit the ball and not think too much."
The Bullets scored six runs in the second inning, seven in the third and three more in the fourth; pitcher Kallie Turner (Tennessee) allowed one hit and struck out two in her inning of work that sealed the game after the top of the fifth.
"After playing so many games in a short period of time, pitching will be down a bit and hitting is something we continued to do. We can swing the bats, and I thought we did a good job doing that," said head coach Greg Schnute. "We are very young, with great young pitching, and they set the table for us. We hit it pretty good, and that's a huge advantage."
For the Bombers, Tori Whillock (Texas) had two hits, two runs and an RBI, the same stats line as Chloe Cobb (Texas Tech). Kayla Garcia (Texas A&M) added two hits and two RBI.
Desiree Smith threw a complete-game shutout as the So Cal Choppers - Fausett defeated the East Cobb Bullets - Biele/Heath, 3-0, to win the championship of the Triple Crown/USA Nationals 14 Open Division.
After dropping their first two games in pool play, the Choppers won eight games in a row to walk away with the championship. "This is just the kind of kids I've had all year," said Choppers head coach Gary Fausett. "They just play their hearts out. They are a good group of kids from good homes. They aren't troublemakers. They knew they didn't get the job done early but they came to me and told me not to worry, because they'd get the job done."
The Choppers started making noise in the second as they brought in three runs with one out thanks to some timely hitting and some wild base running. After back-to-back walks and a bloop single, the bases were loaded for Mia Franco. Franco roped a single to bring home Isabela Gurule with the first run and move the other runners up 60-feet. After an ECB pitching change, Sofia Morales got an RBI via a fielder's choice as the throw home to get Emma Bramson was late.
Then, things got crazy on the bases. A shallow fly ball was caught for the second out, but Hope Lusk's attempt to tag up from third was late. Lusk was chased back to third, but by the time she got there, Franco was already at the base. Franco started to head back to second, and the ECB throw went to second to get Franco. Meanwhile, Lusk raced home. The throw from second to the plate was in time, but the ball popped out of the glove on the swipe tag, allowing Lusk to score to make it 3-0.
"I thought (the left fielder) dropped the ball, so I ran because I thought I had a chance to score," Lusk said. "They had a pick move, so I slid back into third, and then when they threw down to second, I thought I had another chance to score, so I ran home."
That would be more than enough for Smith, in the quarterfinals, and she wanted to pitch again today. who felt the pressure ease off after the three runs came home. "It made it so much easier," Smith said of the runs. "I was already working hard to just try and hold the other team because I know they're really good. Those runs really helped a lot and really calmed me down."
"She's just amazing!" Lusk said of her starting pitcher. "She's just been doing so well. She's just a great pitcher and I'm so proud of her."
"She's special," Coach Fausett said of Smith. "She beat [East Cobb] in Colorado and she wanted to pitch again, and we let her. She's going to go up to 16's next year, and I'm going to miss her dearly."
Neither team would threaten to score the rest of the way, as both teams battled the heat and the solid pitching to scratch out hits. Halle Cannon of ECB tried to start a rally with a leadoff single in the sixth, but Smith would field her position to get a force out at second for the first out of the inning, with the side being retired soon after. Smith would retire ECB in order in the seventh, getting a fly out to end the contest and hand the Choppers the Championship.
"We got off to a rough start [in the tournament], but then we started playing like we usually do," Smith said. "We had a lot more energy after the first two games, and that really carried over."
by Kyle Koso
You just can't keep down ... the noisiest dugout in town.
The PA Chaos 14u National team hopped and skipped to their make-or-break assignment Wednesday afternoon, taking on the Miami Stingrays Red with the winner advancing to the single-elim championship bracket at the TC/USA Nationals in Cumming, GA. Bellowing support every minute from the dugout, the Chaos jumped ahead early and run-ruled the Stingrays in five innings, 9-1, at Central Park, where they will face the Texas Bombers Gold on Thursday morning.
Making the moment even sweeter for the Chaos was the fact the Stingrays had topped them by a healthy 12-5 score Tuesday. But in the rematch, the Chaos were a force from the start in taking a 4-0 lead.
"I knew I was excited to get the chance to come back from that game yesterday; it wasn't exactly the greatest end, and I knew we could do a lot better," said Brooke Ashenfelter, who had two hits, a stolen base and two RBI. "To show them what our team is really like ... that was a good opportunity. With our pitching, that kind of fueled the (defense), and when we were all doing good, we brought it back to the dugout to hit, and it kept going from there."
The pitching excellence came from the hand of Kendall Brown, who allowed two hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The Stingrays put just three balls out of the infield.
"I try not to overthink it; I wanted to go out and just try my best," said Brown, who also had three hits and ended the game with a triple that scored Ava Cohen and Sarah Harvat. "Our defense was way better this game and made so many great plays, and the hitting was on. I always have to go up to the plate with an empty mind and just react to the ball, not overdo it."
The Chaos loaded the bases in the first inning and scored the game's first run on a well-done suicide squeeze bunt from Shannon Harvey. Three RBI singles followed, off the bats of Ashenfelter, Brianna Lawson and Katelyn Carrier.
In the second inning, Harvey's long sacrifice fly brought in Harvat, and Lawson scored on a wild pitch in the third. The fourth inning featured a run from Harvey on a double by Ashenfelter.
"You always want that second chance and to play better the next time. The girls were relaxed, comfortable and confident, and from the first swing of the bat they were extremely impressive," said Chaos head coach Greg Harvey. "Kendall has been very consistent and kept us in every game. She has a terrific change of speeds and an incredible changeup that keeps batters off balance.
"It came down to hitting and defense, and our energy. It was a long day, and the question was could we continue it into the last game. The girls did a great job."
The Stingrays scored in the fourth inning, with Kaitlyn Hernandez coming home on a single from Cristina Pena.
by Kyle Koso
With a nail-biting loss still lingering in their memories, the NC Louisville Slugger-Eaton team wanted to chomp into a fresh opportunity to turn the tables.
That drove the squad to play with precision and purpose on Wednesday, taking down the Miami Stingrays Red by a 7-1 score to clinch a spot in the 14 Open single-elimination bracket at TC/USA Nationals in Cumming, GA. NC Louisville Slugger (which lost a 2-1 game to the Stingrays earlier this month at Colorado Sparkler Juniors) is one of eight teams left in the championship chase and will face the PA Strikers 14u team at 8 a.m. Thursday at Central Park.
While Slugger pitcher Olivia Cainey muzzled a Stingrays offense that had scored 36 runs in its previous four games, the team's offense staked her to an early lead and added useful insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings. In sultry, steamy conditions at Central Park, Cainey delivered a gem.
"We really wanted to beat them because we lost to them in Colorado; we had the motivation," said Cainey, who allowed four hits in a complete-game effort with two walks and four strikeouts. "I'm just happy my team can hit that way, and that makes me pitch better. We're all about taking it one game at a time and seeing how it goes."
Emma Tisdale drove in the Slugger's first run on a single in the second that brought in Hailea Skeens. Leadoff hitter Atalyia Rijo tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Sylvia Burroughs in the third, and three runs came across in the fourth on a double from Tisdale and a two-run single from Kinsley Caldwell.
Rijo tripled again in the sixth and drove in two runs with two outs, in an inning that was extended when Macy Aikia legged out an infield single.
"I want to set the tone for the game and set a good example for my team," Rijo said. "I felt this game was one we needed to win, to show them we could do it. Olivia was hitting her spots and doing what she needed to do."
Stingrays leadoff hitter Brooke Rebhan singled to lead off the sixth and came home on a groundout from Cristina Pena to score the team's sole run.
"The girls were excited about this game, specifically, because of what happened in Colorado. That was an 8 a.m. game, and out bats were definitely not awake," said Slugger coach Nathan Eaton. "We come off a big win (Tuesday) night, and there's a lot of confidence right now. We felt good going into it.
"We try to press teams early; we have speed and we have a lot of weapons on the bench who can play anywhere. We like to use them to press the other team's defense as much as possible."
In the rest of the eight-team 14 Open single-elim bracket, SoCal Choppers Fausett will play Glory Adkins-Locke; Texas Bombers Gold faces PA Chaos Harvey; and East Cobb Bullets Biele/Heath face Impact Gold National Lang.
by Jason Hanes
Needing a win to stay alive in the tournament, Lady Lightning Gold Futures earned a big, 8-0 (6), win over Impact Gold National Lang to move into the championship bracket of the Triple Crown-USA Nationals 14U division at Sawnee Mountain Park in Cumming, Ga.
Both teams would threaten early, but the Lady Lightning scored all the runs it would need in the third inning. After a double by Maggie Knight and a single by Heather Vaughn, a two-run single by Michele Tarpey scored both runners to make it 2-0. Tarpey would be thrown out trying to stretch her single into a double, but the Lady Lightning weren't finished. After MaKenna Raye Dark was hit by a pitch and MaKayla Marbury doubled to the fence in left, a two-run bloop single by Trinity Nichols doubled the lead to 4-0.
"We had a few nice line drives, led by Maggie Knight," said Lady Lightning coach John Garner. "We had some good hits to follow that, but those line drives really help."
Lightning starting pitcher Lauren Wiles kept Impact Gold at bay, helping her own cause on defense in the top of the fourth as she snared a liner to start a double play and end the inning.
In the fifth, the Lady Lightning put the game out of reach. With the bases loaded and two out, Knight ripped a double to the fence in right-center to make it 7-0. "I had been struggling earlier in the day, but I just slowed everything down and let everything happen," Knight said.
One inning later, with a runner on third, an error allowed the game-ending run to score as the Lady Lightning moved on with an 8-0 victory.
"I feel like this year is going really well for us," Knight said. "Tomorrow, I'm just looking forward to all the competition and to go out and win."
The win moves the Lady Lightning Gold Futures into the championship bracket to take on the East Cobb Bullets - Biele/Heath at Central Park in Cumming at 8 a.m. Thursday.
by Jason Hanes
Texas Bombers Gold used a four-run fifth inning to take control as they defeated PA Strikers National-Mizuno, 5-2, to advance to Championship Bracket play in the 14 Open division of the Triple Crown-USA Nationals in Cumming, Ga.
The Strikers struck first as a double to left-center by Briana Peck scored a runner from second to make it 1-0. The Bombers mounted a threat in the bottom of the third thanks to a pair of singles, but Strikers starter Acelynn Sellers won a nine pitch at-bat with a strikeout, then got a line out to second to end the Bombers' threat.
The Bombers started some two-out trouble in the fourth as Delanie Loya singled to left. After seeing eight pitches, Emma Humplik served the ninth pitch into the gap in left-center, with her double scoring Loya to tie the game at 1-1.
In the fifth, the Bombers used their speed at the start of the inning to create pressure as Mihyia Davis, Isa Torres, and Kramer Eschete each laid down bunt singles to load the bases. Kelsie Kelso then blooped a single to shallow center to plate Davis with the go-ahead run. After a wild pitch scored Torries and moved the other runners up 60-feet, a pitching change ended Sellers' day in the circle. While Peck would quickly record two outs in relief, a two-run single by Loya would plate the two runners and give the Bombers a 5-1 lead.
"We've depended on the long ball so much the past couple of days, but they played us so far back that we had to tell our kids to shorten up at the plate," said Bombers coach Jessica Rogers. "Our slappers came up big, and once we got them on, we just needed one big hit to get them over."
"It was really important for me to get on base," said Davis of her leadoff single. "I know we've got big hitters behind me, so I know my job is to get on base so they can get me in."
In the seventh, the Strikers wouldn't go quietly as a single by Twaddell and a double by Smith put two runners in scoring position with one out. Morgan Farthing's grounder to short was kicked, but a quick recovery allowed for a tag of the runner at second for the second out with a run scoring. One batter later, Miles would get a ground out to end the game and give the Bombers the win.
The win moves the Texas Bombers into the Championship Bracket against PA Chaos National-Harvey Thursday morning at 8 a.m. at Central Park in Cumming.
by Kyle Koso
Reaching the end of Tuesday's play at the TC/USA Nationals with a 6-0 record overall is certainly fine with the 14u Glory Adkins-Locke (GA) squad.
But head coach Steve Locke is still grasping for answers on some important issues.
The Glory moved into the finals of their double-elim bracket Tuesday with a 5-2 victory over the Texas Sudden Impact 04, giving up the only two runs they've allowed from the start, but the sight of his roster coming up dry on two separate bases-loaded, no-out opportunities dimmed the sparkle of that unbeaten record.
Fortunately, the Glory played superior defense in spots and got solid pitching, with starter Chayse Eldridge going three innings and reliever Alyssa Bedenbaugh excelling in her four innings of work.
"It's very frustrating to see that they were loaded with my 3-4-5 hitters up, and they are all hitting .400 or more this week. Our pitching has been dominant," said Locke, whose team will face the East Cobb Bullets Biele/Heath on Wednesday in hopes of winning outright their spot to the single-elim final bracket. "The offense has struggled; we're facing great pitching, and we accept it ... those teams practice and are trying hard, too. But it's situational hitting ... I told them, just hit two pop flys and we have four more runs.
"You need to do the little things, because it's only going to get harder. I look like a coach who is 0-6, not 6-0, but I know what we need to do. We're good enough to overcome mistakes, and I expect our pitching will continue and we can make a run at this thing."
The Glory scored all five runs in the second inning, with doubles from Emma Davis and Meadow Villar doing damage. Villar drove in Nadia Barbary (a verbal commit to Mississippi State), and Eldridge singled in Villar; Avery Locke came home on a single from leadoff hitter Kailyn Jones. Davis doubled, and Anyce Harvey closed the burst by singling in Davis.
Davis and Jones each had three hits, with Davis loading the bases in the fourth on a perfectly executed bunt, one made tougher since she had fouled off a bunt attempt on an earlier pitch.
"It's difficult, especially after fouling the first ball off, because they know it's coming. You just work it to your advantage, and using the dirt as well," Davis said. "This game could have gone smoother, but we did work well in staying up and not getting down on ourselves. After this game, we are hoping for better results, but we are having a good tournament."
One of the other treats for the Glory was watching Bedenbaugh field her position in the pitching circle. She gloved everything that came her way and made a startling athletic play for the second out of the ninth inning, fielding a dribbler up the first base line and leap-tossing the ball to first in time to catch a very speedy runner.
She also was cool in the dugout, not getting agitated when the offense stumbled.
"I just keep cheering them on. I trust them, and I know they'll get hits, so I trust the defense behind me as well," she said. "We stayed positive; the coaches were frustrated, but we kept backing each other up. I play third base a lot, so after I throw the ball I just treat it like I'm playing third. Our pitchers are doing good, the defense is backing everything up, the hitting is getting us leads ... I think we can win this thing."
"She's the most athletic pitcher I've seen, and she's the most athletic third base I've ever seen," Locke added. "Her lower body is so strong and she's so fast ... she has a Division-I release, hard and accurate."
The Glory beat the EC Bullets Biele/Heath team on Monday, 1-0.
by Jason Hanes
Texas Dirt Divas 02 moved into Wednesday afternoon's 16 Open B Bracket championship game with a 9-0 (5) victory over Aces 16u Ashley on Tuesday evening at Midway Park in Cumming, GA. as part of the Triple Crown USA Nationals.
"It feels like we're finally stringing some hits together and playing as a team," said Dirt Divas head coach Kaylee Parker after her team's win.
The Dirt Divas got the first two batters of the game on base, then brought both of them home on Mikaelah Burkland's single to take a 2-0 lead. "It was crucial to get momentum on our side with those first two runs," coach Parker said. "We were able to just keep rolling after that."
Aces 16u Ashley mounted its first threat of the game as three singles loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but Dirt Divas starting hurler Brooke Gainous would get a ground out to end the threat.
In the third, the Dirt Divas plated three, with Burkand's double off the fence in right-center scoring Rylie Bouvier with the first run. Two batters later, Jessica Adams sent a towering drive over the fence in center for a two-run blast to make it 5-0. "Jess has been on fire for us all week," Parker said. "I knew something like that was coming off her bat."
The Dirt Divas dug the long ball again in the fifth as Kaylee Hornberger sent a one-out solo home run down the line in left. After a walk, the Dirt Divas struck again as a double down the line in left by Courtney Everts made it 7-0. With an error putting runners on the corners, Kalyn Xayaseng's bunt single scored Everts with the eighth run of the game. Jaylen Prichard's fielder's choice led to the third out of the inning but a run scored before the out to make it 9-0.
Gainous would work 4.2 innings before giving way with two runners on in the fifth to Adams. Adams would record a ground out on the game's final batter to give the Dirt Divas the run rule win.
"It was really important to get the win," Gainous said. "It was great to feel like my teammates had my back."
The Texas Dirt Divas move on to face Georgia Power DeMarini Gold-Worley Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at Midway Park.
We are one week away from the highly competitive TC/USA Nationals. Triple Crown Fastpitch has taken this tournament all over the United States from New York City to Reno to Austin and back again. 2018 is the seventh year of the event and Alpharetta, Cumming and surrounding towns in suburban Atlanta will play host on July 9-12.
The TC/USA Nationals is a six-game guarantee that is well known for featuring the nation’s top 14u, 16u and 18u fastpitch teams, based on U.S. Club Rankings. All box brackets will be pre-seeded based on ranking, geography and strength of roster. Box bracket outcomes will determine team seeding into double elimination brackets. The top two teams from each double elimination bracket will feed into a single elimination bracket for the championship. Triple Crown is excited for another year of partnering with ESPN3 to produce a live broadcast of the top championship games in the 18u and 16u divisions.
Nobody will want to miss watching the best competition in the country go head to head; especially college coaches! TC/USA Nationals has quickly become a hotspot for college coaches to scout the current and upcoming talent. This year more than 40 colleges have pre-registered to make an appearance at the tournament.
There are 64 teams set to play in the 18u Gold division including the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and 2017 TCS National Champions, the So Cal Athletics – Richardson. The East Cobb Bullets – Schnute, Birmingham Thunderbolts, Texas Bombers Gold – Smith and Aces Express – McCorkle are all ranked within the nation’s top 10 and will take the diamond in Georgia to rival the Athletics.
The 16u Open division will showcase 48 elite teams with No. 6 ranked Vision Gold – Poole and No. 9 ranked Texas Glory Adkins Gold in attendance. Glory Adkins was the runner-up of this event last year and will be fighting to end up on top next week. In 2017, Firecrackers TJ was our TCS National Champion in 14u and have since moved up to play in the 16u division. The 14u Open lineup welcomes 32 teams, many of which are also nationally ranked powerhouses.
The entertainment is not limited to the ballfield; Triple Crown has partnered with some of Atlanta’s finest restaurants, theme parks and shopping destinations to provide players, coaches and families with special discount codes and great group deals. Visit www.tcusanationals.com to check out the event partners, schedule/results, U.S. club rankings, college coach list and more. TC Fastpitch is fired up and ready to rock the Georgia heat – see you all next week!
By Bradey King