By Thomas Hoffman
ALPHARETTA, GA -- The East Cobb Bullets – Biele/Heath and Turnin2 Pezzoni – Robeson were already familiar with each other before the two squared off in 16u bracket play on Wednesday afternoon at Midway Park. Just 24 hours earlier, Turnin2’s 8-0 win sent the Bullets into the bottom end of the double-elimination bracket. East Cobb wouldn’t bow out in the second edition, however, avenging its previous loss with a 6-1 win and locking in a place in the Championship Bracket.
“I’ve never been around a team like this that wants to get that championship so badly,” said head coach JD Heath. “They’re driven by the want to win, they’re battle-tested and they know how to make the big play when the chips are down.”
Getting right to the point, leadoff hitter Madie Giglio ignited a burst of scoring in the top of the first inning for Heath and the Bullets. Mackenzie Nicholson followed up with a single of her own, allowing Hannah Church to drive both runners in with single, propelling East Cobb to a quick 2-0 advantage.
“She had a good rise ball but I was trying not to chase it,” said Nicholson. “I was just trying to stay disciplined, make hits and get on base for my team.”
For three innings, scoring came to a screeching halt for each side. Starting pitcher Shannon Becker made sure to keep herself composed in the circle. Turnin2 managed runners in scoring position only once in the first five innings.
“I was hitting my spots pretty well and working off the plate when I needed to,” explained Becker. “I needed to keep my counts in my head throughout the day. That way, I knew when to attack and when to stay back in certain situations.”
After Nicholson pushed the Bullets lead to 3-0 with an RBI single in the fifth inning, Becker’s shutout unraveled in the sixth as Turnin2 loaded the bases. Despite all the trouble, East Cobb buckled down to escape the frame, surrendering just a single run.
“I wasn’t really trying to think about anything that was happening,” Becker said. “I was just focused on the next pitch and the next batter. I just wanted to continue pitching the way I had been the whole game.”
Looking for a bit of insurance, East Cobb turned to Nicholson one last time. Known for her speed, Nicholson flexed her muscles for a double off the centerfield wall, scoring Olivia Cook and Katie Taylor. With Taylor tallying an RBI of her own, suddenly the Bullets owned a 6-1 lead.
Coming off a bases-loaded jam, Becker’s five-run cushion would prove to be more than enough. Solidifying the win with a strikeout, Becker also locked in a Championship Bracket spot for the Bullets.
“She’s spot on right now,” Heath said. “She can throw her changeup on any count. That’s what’s making her so dangerous right now. She knows she can use that weapon anytime.”
The Bullets will match up against EC Bullets – Coleman in its next contest with sights on Thursday’s championship game at 1 p.m. at Midway Park.
“Honestly, I just want to win this thing,” said Nicholson.