By Alissa Noe
ERIE -- All it takes is one great play to alter the course of a great game.
On Saturday at the Ballpark at Erie for the Sparkler Juniors 14U tournament, Addison Duke gave the San Diego Power Surge the boost it needed when she launched herself over the center field wall to rob the Ohio Lasers of a two-run home run in the bottom of the third. That crucial out prevented the Lasers from increasing their lead in a matchup that eventually ended 8-7 in favor of the Power Surge.
“She was the first person I went to when the game was over because it was an amazing catch,” head coach Scott Berndes said. “We would not have won without that catch. If that (ball) had gone over, I think we would have lost.”
The Power Surge’s early deluge of offense served them well in the first inning as the team secured four runs in three consecutive at-bats, including a two-run bomb from Susanna Pate. Her first homer of the tournament couldn't have come at a better time, because the Lasers' offense responded with precision in the bottom of the same frame to close the gap to 4-2.
“I feel like it just brought our energy up and really got us into the game,” Pate said. “We felt it from there. We were like, ‘We can do this. We got this game. We want this game.’ Usually, we’re a pretty strong hitting team. We’ve got lots of power hitters and then we’ve got our slappers for speed. I love our hitting. It’s so fun.”
As the game progressed throughout the next few innings, the Power Surge and Lasers traded blows as neither team managed to gain a solid lead early.
Duke's third-inning leap of faith put an end to the Lasers' rally, as they had taken a 6-5 lead on a triple from Ava Chevalier followed by a Delana Landefeld double.
“I knew it was deep from the beginning,” Duke said. “So I said, ‘Just get to the fence and you’ll take it from there. If it’s over, just catch it because you have to do whatever you’ve got to do for your pitcher. She’s doing all she can for you, so do everything you can for your team.’ It was amazing because I knew I had it. I had it all the way.”
The Power Surge defense fended off the Lasers the next four innings until their offense found life again in the top of the sixth with the help of a Laser error.
With two down and a runner on, Itzel Soto stepped to the plate and hit the ball hard to the Lasers' shortstop. Soto was able to reach base safely due to a fumbled catch attempt at first base. Pate, on third, didn't waste the opportunity to give her team the 7-6 advantage by sprinting home to safely beat out the throw.
Kiki Sandoval brought Soto home in the very next at-bat with a double of her own. The Power Surge's 8-6 rush ended there, but their defense got the job done one more time in the bottom of the sixth.
The Power Surge improved to 6-1 at the Colorado 4th of July tournament and will get a bye for the single elimination tournament on Sunday in the same location. Now, the Power Surge sit just two games away from the championship.
“Fingers crossed,” Berndes said. “These girls will get us there. The girls just love to play and the fact that they might not get to play another game, hell, that makes them mad.”