The pleasure taken from a job well done can be a subtle experience.
Montana Fouts, one of the most imposing pitchers in the 2018 class and already committed to SEC power Alabama, gave her Beverly Bandits 16u team a golden path to the finish line Thursday in the title game of the 16u TC/USA Nationals, allowing one hit in a 5-0 victory over Texas Glory-Adkins at Concordia University in Austin. That hit came with one out in the seventh and was the only ball to leave the infield – Fouts’ dominance included eight strikeouts and plenty of reason to celebrate.
However, she was quick to appreciate the contributions of her team, which did flex some muscle in posting shutouts in both the semifinals and finals Thursday.
“Everyone is working hard, and I couldn’t do it without my teammates and their offense. Hopefully, we just keep getting better and don’t feel satisfied,” said Montana, who had a perfect game going before Ronni Ramos’ clean single in the seventh. “That’s great and all (nearing a no-hitter), but winning the game was way more important than anything else. That may have been going through other people’s minds, but you have to leave that alone.”
“She’s special, and she’s selfless. She’s one of the top junior pitchers in the country. But you’d never know it, because she’s not that (braggart-type) of kid,” said Bandits coach Eddy Ketelhut. ”She’s all team, she’s always working, and she’d do anything for anybody.”
In terms of offense, the Bandits took control in the final thanks to some ringing, fence-rattling extra-base hits. Joley Mitchell (headed to Missouri) tripled in Eden Mayo (Louisville) for the game’s first run in the second inning, while a double from Avrey Steiner (Illinois) led to run No. 2.
“It’s gone pretty well; I’m pretty comfortable because I know if I get on I can count on my team behind me to move me around,” said leadoff hitter Macy Ratliff, who reached base three times and scored twice. “I feel like I have a lot of tools to offer. We were ready for this, and we worked hard for it.”
While the team is still relatively new to each other, the Bandits are of the opinion they’ve figured out how things should look going forward.
“This whole week has been about finding an identity. Going into Colorado (Sparkler/Fireworks) we didn’t even know what that was,” Ketelhut said. “This week we learned how to pull as a team together. They have accepted roles; not to say they won’t ever move into another position, but understanding what the team needs.”
Mayo reached base three times, and Faith Hensley (Ball State) doubled and scored in the seventh.
Tags: Triple Crown Fastpitch, Triple Crown Sports
Eight proved to be the magic number for Firecrackers-TJ.
Seven wins put TJ Houshmandzadeh’s squad in the 14u Championship game at TC/USA Nationals and their pitcher Grace Uribe, number eight, boasted a near-perfect performance for Firecrackers’ eighth win, 4-1, over the Texas Dirt Divas, claiming the 2017 title.
“It wasn’t an easy road,” said head coach Houshmandzadeh. “We made it hard on ourselves at times. Games that we played cleaned, we won easy. This championship game wasn’t easy, but our pitchers pitched great and we got timely hits.”
Great might have been a gross understatement for how the Firecrackers looked in the circle. Starting pitcher Grace Uribe brought her best when it mattered most. Through the first couple of innings, she was nearly untouchable.
“The Dirt Divas are good hitting team,” said Uribe. “I knew if I was going to have any kind of success I was going to need to keep the ball down. Knowing that I had a great defense behind also gave me a lot of confidence.”
Uribe’s pitching style wasn’t conducive to a high volume of strikeouts, but her team was up to the task defensively. Through the first four innings, Uribe tallied just two strikeouts, but the defense picked up 10 putouts, blanking every Dirt Diva that came to the plate.
In the second inning, it was time for Firecrackers’ offense to help its pitcher. Hailey Smith kicked things off with a single to left field. Two batters and a stolen base later, Macey Keester drove Smith home with a sacrifice fly, taking the lead, 1-0.
Same story, different inning in the fourth. This time, Smith led off with a double, allowing Rachel Allen to stretch the lead, 2-0, with an RBI single.
“At first I was seeing a lot of inside pitches,” said Smith. “When their pitcher made a mistake, I was able to put the bat on it and hit it hard.”
While Uribe and the Firecracker defense was building four innings of perfect softball, production on the offensive end seemed to sprout when Hailey Smith was around the plate.
Already with two runs scored, Smith climbed into the RBI column in the sixth inning with a single, scoring Elianna Reyes who represented the third run of the ballgame for Firecrackers.
The Dirt Divas threatened in the bottom half of the sixth inning, though. With runners in scoring position, Houshmandzadeh was forced to call in Amanda Johnson to finish things off.
“The kids make mistakes sometimes,” said Houshmandzadeh. “They’ve been great at rebounding, though. Like water off a duck’s back, these girls have been incredibly resilient.”
Looking for even more insurance, the Firecrackers plated a run via an RBI double from Abigail Mulvey that scored Macey Keest to make it 4-0. It was the only inning in which Smith was not involved in the Firecrackers scoring.
Texas once again made it a game in the final frame. Three hits pushed across a run, but Johnson forced the final pop up before anything life-threatening occurred, securing the championship, 4-1.
“This shows that we can come together as a team and proved to people just how good we are,” said Smith.”We’ve been together as a single unit all year long and this is the culmination of all our hard work.”
Tags: TC Fastpitch, Triple Crown Fastpitch, Triple Crown Sports
Technically, you’re not supposed to carry a lot of emotion and history from previous games into the contests still to be played.
But it’s a good thing the So Cal Athletics 18u team have a least a little long-term memory.
Boosted by their one-run victory in comeback fashion at the semifinals Thursday of the TC/USA Nationals in Austin, the Athletics were solid in every respect in the final, taking down the Gold Coast Hurricanes 8-1 to earn championship honors. Clutch hits early, steady offensive pressure throughout, and dynamite work in the pitching circle had the Athletics (ranked No. 2 in US Club Rankings) looking the part of a dominant squad.
“We were buried there for a while (in the semifinals), down 3-0 going into the fifth inning … we scored three to tie it, got one in the sixth, got three outs in the seventh and ran out of there. But that had a huge part in what happened here today,” said Athletics coach Bruce Richardson. “There’s nothing I can fault with these girls in the final. They hit the ball when we needed it, got clutch hits, and executed some nice stuff.
“Earlier we won three straight games, 7-1, and just couldn’t put anyone away. We talked about putting teams away early, to save some arms and get out of the heat, but it never really happened.”
Lauren Espalin (a California commit) had a sharp two-run single in the first inning for the Athletics; she also got hits in the third and fifth innings, which allowed her team to slowly build the lead. Hannah McEwen (Arkansas) came through with three hits, including an RBI triple in the sixth inning, and she also scored twice.
“It was a really good start for us (in the semis); we came out a little flat, but we were able to scrape and get the ‘W.’ It prepared us for later, as we worked through the struggles,” Espalin said. “It gave us more energy. I wasn’t trying to do anything too much (in the first inning); just knowing I needed to drive them in any way I could. I was fortunate to make a pretty good hit there, squaring up the ball, keeping it simple and calm.”
Starting pitcher Maddy Dwyer (Stanford) allowed Hurricanes leadoff hitter Sam Russ (North Carolina State) to reach first base and later score in the first, but that was all the wobble Dwyer displayed. She allowed four hits and a walk in her five innings of work.
“In that situation, you have to settle down and realize, that’s a good-hitting team. We played them (earlier), so we have to make plays and not get in over your head,” said Dwyer, who attends the same high school (Orange Lutheran) as Espalin. “If you do that, you’ll be more prone to make mistakes. I didn’t get riled up; you try to get the momentum going forward.
“The games in the beginning, we were kind of cruising, so it was important for us to be able to get through a game that’s hard to win and see what it’s like to get it done in those situations. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and it was good for us.”
Danielle Romanello had a single, triple and RBI for the Hurricanes; Briana Marcelino added two singles.
Tags: TC Fastpitch, Triple Crown Fastpitch, Triple Crown Sports
Two losses early Wednesday morning for the 18u East Cobb Bullets-Biele put them out of contention of the top bracket at TC/USA Nationals, but that didn’t mean they lacked for motivation later in the day.
Down early to the Wichita Mustangs, East Cobb whittled away to tie the game in the fifth inning and ultimately utilized a gritty effort in the sixth to leapfrog the Mustangs, 5-2, to advance in the 18u Gold Bracket.
“This team never quits,” said head coach Andrew Biele. “We almost came from behind earlier today and we ended up pulling it off in this one. We’re a very young team and one thing we told them is that it’s all about energy and it’s all about heart.”
East Cobb tasted its first bout with adversity early in its matchup against the Mustangs. Three base hits in the first inning led to two runs for Wichita, handing the team from Kansas the early lead, 2-0.
Undeterred, East Cobb kept plugging away. Things started to develop slowly offensively, but more importantly, things started to settle down defensively.
“I did not want to let my team down in this game,” said starting pitcher Angelina Biele. “Everyone was a little down after this morning. I knew if I could amp the team up a little, it would have a domino effect.”
Leadoff hitter Arielle Oda echoed the same sentiments.
“The key is to stay optimistic,” said Oda. “We’ve dealt with everything, including multiple injuries. We just needed to stay positive and play softball the way we knew how.”
The Bullets’ dynamite duo, who will both be sporting their talents in the ACC at Duke University in the coming seasons, began to spark life into their team.
Biele went to work in the circle, knocking down batters left and right. In the fourth inning, a stolen base, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Paige Cook. Cook’s sacrifice fly put the first run on the board for the Bullets, cutting the lead in half.
An inning later, Oda conjured up her speed, reaching on a bunt single for the second time in three at-bats. Oda finished 2-3 with two runs scores. Two batters later, a fielder’s choice from Chandler Dennis tied the game at two.
“We have it in us if we just stay together,” said Oda. “We had a plan going in and we knew if we just stayed calm and executed, good things were going to happen.”
Behind a rock-solid performance from Biele, East Cobb’s offense was back to the plate in the sixth inning looking for its first lead of the ballgame. Felise Collins showcased her speed and fooled Wichita with a bunt single to open up the frame. Mia Jenkings was up to the task, driving in Collins to take the 3-2 advantage.
The Bullets weren’t done, though. Oda climbed aboard with a hit-by-pitch, allowing Leea Hanks to come through with a two-RBI single, stretching the lead, 5-2.
Trouble started brewing in the bottom half of the sixth inning. A lead-off single, a walk and two stolen bases had Wichita threatening to get themselves back in the contest. By that time, Chandler Dennis had come in to pitch. Not only did Dennis finish off the sixth swiftly, but her 1-2-3 seventh inning sealed the deal on East Cobb’s victory.
“It’s been a long season for us,” said coach Biele. “We’ve used the NFL mentality ‘next man up’ because we’ve had so many injuries. To see these girls be such good teammates and enjoy one another’s success has been really exciting to watch.”
East Cobb continues its journey through TC/USA Nationals. The Bullets will matchup against Texas Glory-Adkins at 8 a.m. at Taylor Sports Complex. A win would put the Georgia natives in the 18u Gold Bracket championship, not bad for a team fresh off a championship appearance in Triple Crown’s Fireworks tournament just over a week ago.
Tags: Austin, TC Fastpitch, TC/USA Nationals, Texas, Triple Crown Sports
In the brackets below the very top at TC/USA Nationals, there are still tough teams to play and satisfying memories to make.
But the first thing a team has to do is shake off the disappointment of not securing a spot in the Platinum Bracket, which went by the boards earlier Wednesday for the Texas Glory-Adkins 18u squad with a loss to the So Cal Athletics. As another toasty day at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock began to release its grip, the Glory sprung free and claimed a 5-0 victory over the Conklin (NY) Raiders to reach the Gold Bracket semifinals.
The Glory (ranked 27th in US Club Rankings) will take on the East Cobb Bullets-Biele on Thursday morning in Taylor for a berth in the Gold Bracket finals, versus either the No. 11 Texas Sudden Impact-Dutton or the No. 31 Vision-Poole.
Against the Raiders, a five-run jolt in the first inning proved to be the only scoring of the entire contest. Two-run singles from Georgia Capell and Abigail Stewart were the key blows, with Riley Cantrell bringing home another run with a sacrifice fly. In the circle, Glory pitcher Bailey Longoria escaped some early trouble and never flinched in posting her four-hit shutout.
However, none of that pleasure would have been enjoyed had the Glory not turned the page from their earlier setback.
“We were a little upset, but we came back and fought hard and played really well. We should do great in this bracket,” said Capell, who reached base three times and is headed to Tarleton State University in Texas. “I was just looking for a good pitch to hit; we wanted to get on the board and score some runs early. It’s been a good tournament so far, but we have one more day.”
Longoria enjoyed the early boost of offense, and she got another lift when her defense threw out a runner at home plate in the first inning. She did her part, allowing only two walks and not allowing a runner past second base in the final six frames.
“To know I had that early cushion and to know they always have my back … I’m not going out there scared. I had a couple to work with, and I got excited (about the out at home),” said Longoria, who is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville. “We aren’t in the top bracket, but we can always win this one.”
“I told them, we’ll make the best of where we are. We have to play the way we are capable, and we had a game where we didn’t play to our capabilities,” said Glory coach Keith Allen. “We let one slip away. But (Capell and Stewart) are great hitters, they stay inside the ball and understand what it means to be productive. Sometimes, the first inning is all you get, and we made the most of that. They stayed calm, saw the ball deep in the zone and put good hits on the ball.
“Bailey kept the ball down and changed speeds. We really like what she does with the ball — it keeps us in games. We haven’t given up a lot of runs this week.”
Alexis Phillips had two hits for the Raiders, and Paige Rauch certainly pitched well enough to win after the first inning, allowing a hit and a walk in the next four innings.
Tags: College Recruiting, Softball, TC/USA Nationals, Triple Crown Fastpitch
With less than a week off in the last six weeks, the 14u Texas Dirt Divas finally felt right at home playing in Austin, Texas, at Triple Crown’s USA Nationals.
Knocking off The Factory, 9-0, in round one Tuesda set up a Texas-versus-Oklahoma border war between the Dirt Divas and the Exclusive. A big third inning was all the Divas needed to edge out the Exclusive, 3-0, securing a spot in the next round of double elimination play.
“We came out a little flat offensively,” said head coach JD Chandler. “But we’re always in the game defensively and with our pitchers. We have three of the best pitchers in the state of Texas and behind them it’s normal business.”
Starting pitcher Kaci West got the nod to face the Exclusive and though two runners reached safely in the opening frame, West settled into a groove, forcing a strikeout and ground out to end the scoring opportunity.
As the game wore on, however, West picked up momentum and began to knock down batters left and right. In the first three innings, West compiled six strikeouts, three of which were looking.
“My curveball was working very well for me today,” said West. “Even if I messed up, I knew that I had a great team behind and they could pick me up easily.”
Following three near-perfect innings, coach Chandler finally started to see some of his offense begin to produce. West herself kicked off the bottom of the third inning with a single. Three batters later, Bayleee Chandler drove her home with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field. With two on and nobody out, catcher Sydney Collazos stepped to the plate.
“I was looking for a pitch inside,” said Collazos. “That’s my sweet spot and I just cut it loose and tried to hit it as far as I could.”
Callazos promptly rocketed a double to left field, scoring both Hannah Earls and Baylee Chandler. Earls was the only Diva to go perfect at the dish, finishing 3-3 with a run scored and two stolen bases.
Even though the Exclusive trailed by a mere three runs, it could have easily felt like 10 with the way West was commanding the strike zone. West pitched six full innings, amassing 11 strikeouts and not walking a single hitter.
“It was important to continue to be aggressive towards the batters,” explained West. “It was a matter of just throwing hard at them and focusing on my spins.”
Oklahoma began the final inning with a single and a hit-by-pitch, forcing Chandler to call upon Kaitlyn Dutton to finish things off. Dutton keenly tallied two pop ups and the team’s 12th strikeout to end the game and claim the win.
“Our goal at the beginning of the week was to win it all,” said Collazos. “I feel like it is partly my responsibility to make sure my team has energy and is ready to play each game just like we were today.”
The Dirt Divas will await the winner Vision Gold-Brown and Firecrackers Gale-Texas; its to-be-determined opponent are slated for a first pitch at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning at Krieg Softball Complex.
“I just want to see the same kinds of things I saw today,” said coach Chandler. “This is supposedly the game they love. If you really love something, it isn’t your parents or your coaches that have to get you up in the morning to do it. I have no doubt they’ll be ready to go again tomorrow.”
Tags: Fastpitch, Softball, Triple Crown Fastpitch, Triple Crown Sports
For head coach Mark Brown and his Vision Fastpitch Gold team, a healthy dose of offense combined with stellar pitching paved way to an all important 2-0 start in the 14u division at TC/USA Nationals.
Early Tuesday morning at Krieg Complex in Austin, Texas, Vision Gold dismantled a hefty Beverly Bandits team, 6-1. Nine hours later, Brown’s squad kept the fire going, cruising to victory, 7-1, over Firecrackers-Gale from Colorado.
“We’ve been playing really great defense and our pitchers have been shutting everything down,” Brown said. “Offensively, we’ve been able to jump on some pitchers and put a good amount of runs on the board.”
Vision wasted no time achieving that task. Leadoff hitter Piper Randolph jumped aboard first base with a single to right field and immediately stole second. Two batters later, with Randolph on third, Breigh Oliver brought her home, creating the first lead of the game for the away side, 1-0.
“Piper is the true leader of this team,” said teammate Paige Nunes. “She does a great job to hype us up and get ready to go.”
The Firecrackers responded quickly, though, stringing together a pair of base hits in the bottom half of the first inning to tie the game at one.
In the third inning, it was Randolph again providing the spark in the Vision offense. Though Randolph would ground out to the pitcher, her encouragement from the sidelines propelled her squad to three base hits and two walks. Oliver delivered in a moment of need for the second time in three innings as both she and Nunes notched RBI doubles, stretching the lead for the Texas natives, 3-1.
After her little hiccup in the opening frame, starting pitcher Kelsie Briggs gradually gained momentum throughout the contest. From the second inning on she was virtually unflappable and the defense behind her continued to play rock solid.
“I know I can pitch confidently with the defense I have behind me,” said Briggs. “When I know they’re doing their thing, I can focus on the things I can control. Today, I had a really nice curveball and change up.”
With Briggs spinning a gem in the circle, Vision’s offense went back to work looking for some insurance. Nunes took charge with another RBI single in the fifth inning. She would finish 2-4 with a double and three RBI on the afternoon.
“I just knew I needed to sacrifice myself in order for my teams to score runs,” said Nunes. “We needed to win this game and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to help my team do that.”
Vision’s human spark plug Randolph kicked the seventh inning off with a walk. When the dust settled, three runs crossed the plate before Firecrackers could manage the third out.
Needing to close out her seventh inning, Briggs stepped to the rubber with confidence. A strikeout and two quick pop outs signaled Vision’s victory, 7-1, and also marked an incredibly impressive performance.
“Kelsie is one of those pitchers that’s going to battle, go out there and hit her spots.” said Brown. “She did a great job keeping them in check and going the full seven innings. We couldn’t have asked anything more from her.”
Vision Gold now earns an 8 a.m. duel with the Texas Dirt Divas on Wednesday morning at Krieg Complex. A third win in a row would go a long way in positioning Vision atop the single elimination bracket later in the week.
“You do not want to drop an early game at a tournament like this,” Brown said. “If you drop one early, you have to play a number of games to get back in it. It was really important for us to stay in the winner’s bracket.”
Tags: Austin Texas, TC Fastpitch, TC/USA Nationals, Texas, Triple Crown Sports
By any measure, Alison Cooper put together a shin-sational effort Tuesday.
Pitching for the Impact Gold-DFW 14u team, Cooper absorbed a wicked grounder to the lower leg in the team’s contest against the Texas Glory Futures and just kept going, tossing six scoreless innings as the Impact registered a 12-0 victory at the TC/USA Nationals in Austin.
The offense ran wild in the later innings, scoring 10 runs in the final two frames, but the game was still scoreless in the second inning when Cooper took the shot. In a sign that it was going to be a good day, Abbie Orrick grabbed the loose ball and threw out the runner anyway.
“I was going to try and get the ball, but I took a step and it hurt like crazy. So I was yelling at (Orrick) saying, ‘get the ball, finish the play.’ We had to get that out,” said Cooper, who scattered four hits and didn’t walk a batter. “I was going to keep pitching; I didn’t want to stop. Our team starting hitting, and we got it. We’re going to go all out in all our games, no matter what.”
“She’s a battler – every time she gets out there. She’s pumped before the game, she’s pumped in the dugout, and she’s a fighter, which is fun,” said Impact coach Jimmy Middlebrook. “Every time we go to a tournament, we’re thinking ‘title.’ At this point of the season, you should be playing your best, and we are at some points. There are five or six teams that could win this thing, so you better be playing well.”
The Impact Gold will play at 8 a.m. Wednesday with a chance to claim first place in the 14u AA Bracket and earn a priority spot in the final double-elimination bracket. Having outscored opponents 34-4 so far in Austin, the team’s offense is certainly on track, and leadoff hitter Mackenzie Denson is a big part of the process.
She was 4-for-4 against the Glory, scoring twice and looking essentially unbeatable on the basepaths. She also made a terrific running catch in center field in the fourth, when the Glory had two runners on and nobody out.
“I like hitting leadoff – I can help my team, tell them what the pitcher is throwing and what everything looks like,” said Denson, who added a strong defensive play is just as rewarding as a leadoff single. “I like to get those balls that are usually gappers and catch them; whenever somebody thinks they’re getting a hit and I take it away.
“We definitely think we can win; last week we played 16u last weekend and we beat some of the best teams.”
Jacee Hamlin had two hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs while scoring twice. Orrick drove in two more and had two doubles; Jaden Middlebrook and Carlee Ratcliff each had two hits and an RBI.
Micaela Wark reached base twice for the Glory; Kaylee Davis added a double.
Tags: Fastpitch, Softball, Triple Crown Fastpitch
To not be playing at full capacity, but still finding a way to advance in the bracket, can leave a team with mixed feelings.
For the 14u Firecrackers-TJ squad, a pair of two-run victories Tuesday (4-2 vs. Impact Gold-Lampl and 2-0 against the Midland Magic) keeps the team in the mix at TC/USA Nationals in Austin, with an obvious tip of the hat to the squad’s pitching and defense.
But the halting nature of the offense is something that likely requires revisiting.
“I’m an honest person – we’re not playing well at all. We’re winning, but I don’t know if we should be winning,” said head coach TJ Houshmandzadeh. “Both teams are in the heat, so that’s not it. It’s about adjustments within our at-bats, from pitch to pitch … we act like we have no idea how to make adjustments. We’re preaching it. We’re a fast, athletic team that can normally hit, and we’re showing none of that.”
In Game 2 on Tuesday, starting pitcher Amanda Johnston muscled up in the toasty conditions to allow just one hit, which came in the sixth inning. She walked two batters and struck out four, managing the pressure even as the game stayed close from start to finish.
“Everyone was working together, but the bats just didn’t come alive after the first inning. But we stayed in there, which is the good part,” Johnston said. “The heat drained everybody. I (say to myself), have trust in the defense. When I put the ball over the plate, I can trust my defense to back me up. It makes everything easier.”
The Firecrackers got all the offense they ultimately needed in the first inning. Elianna Reyes and Thessa Malau’ulu each singled and moved into scoring position, and Rachel Allen came through with a hit that scored them both.
“Having runners on, the mindset changes about where you want to hit the ball. I got that outside pitch and did whatever I could to hit it that side of the field and move the runners,” Allen said. “Our pitchers have been doing great, and our defense just has to trust each other, and that everyone can do their job. It’s a new day tomorrow, and you have to clear everything out, good or bad. Start over, reset, get ready for whatever is coming next.”
The Firecrackers will play at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday for the chance to claim the BB bracket and earn a priority position in the upcoming double-elimination bracket.
Tags: Austin, College Recruiting, Fastpitch, Softball News, Triple Crown Fastpitch
In the long run, Monday’s games at Southeast Metro Park in Austin, Texas, don’t affect pool play standings or bracket seeding in Triple Crown’s USA Nationals. That doesn’t mean 16u Texas Glory-Naudin didn’t take it just as seriously, though.
After falling, 3-0, to the Louisville Lady Sluggers, Texas Glory bounced right back in its final game of the day, riding a hot offense to a 7-0 victory over the East Cobb Bullets.
“We came out a little flat today,” said coach Mary Stephens. “They definitely turned it around, though, starting to put pieces together. As our first tournament back from Colorado (Sparkler/Fireworks), it was important to adjust to the conditions. The ball certainly doesn’t fly as far here as it does in the elevation up there.”
Haley Morgan was among those able to make the quick transition to Austin’s starkly hot and humid climate. A single in the second inning put Morgan on the basepaths before utilizing her speed to steal both second and third base. Ultimately, Trinity Cannon produced the RBI with a grounder to third, giving Texas Glory the early lead, 1-0.
“That first time I came up, I just wanted to get us started,” said Morgan. “We were definitely flat coming out, and I knew that if I could get on and use my speed we could get something going. It was important after the first game to be the first ones to score in the second.”
With the Glory ahead for the first time on Monday, starting pitcher Karlie Charles wasn’t about to let it go anytime soon.
“I was able to hit the spots that I wanted today,” said Charles. “Keeping my changeup low forced hitters into either a pop-up or a ground ball and my defense did the rest behind me.”
Charles’ only spout of real trouble came in the opening frame. Runners stood on both second and third base with one out before Charles dialed up a flyout to center field followed by a big strikeout to keep the Bullets from scoring.
“Karlie was excellent for us today,” Stephens said. “We have four pitchers here this week and fully expect all of them to perform phenomenally.”
After back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, including two strikeouts, Stevens tabbed Jaycee Cook to protect the Glory’s lead.
Her team would come to her aid, however, providing a huge cushion in the fifth inning. Again, Morgan kicked off the inning with a single and a stolen base before Brady Rowland brought her home with an RBI single. Six singles in addition to a three-RBI triple from MJ Green plated six runs, giving Texas a commanding 7-0 lead.
“You could see the offense start to come alive,” said Stephens. “Early on, I kept hearing comments about how the ball might be different. We had to try to convince them to start hitting it hard on the ground, instead of trying to hit fly balls out of here.”
As time began ticking away, three outs were all the Glory needed to secure its first win of the day. Despite the Bullets posting runners on second and third base for the second time of the ballgame, the Glory navigated its way through the sticky situation as Cook fielded the final grounder to end the game.
“I think we needed to come back and win that second game so we could keep rolling into tomorrow,” said Morgan. “Even though we weren’t at our best today, we still got the win and we’ll be able to keep improving tomorrow and throughout the tournament.”
Texas Glory-Naudin begins its way through the 16u open division at TC/USA Nationals with an 8 a.m. matchup with Premier Fastpitch-Paulsen.
“I like our chances,” said Stephens. “If they come out with high energy and focus, I think we can make a good run in this tournament.”
Tags: Fastpitch, Softball, Triple Crown Fastpitch, Triple Crown Sports