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