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.