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.