By Adam Dunivan
FEDERAL HEIGHTS -- After a day off from competition at the Colorado 4th of July tournament, the 16U Washington Shock appeared completely “Locked” in during Thursday’s Sparkler Open box bracket play at Hyland Hills.
Courtney Locke hit a home run and a double, and Rebecca Carson also homered to help her own cause in a complete-game pitching effort against speedy Chicago Cheetahs 16U Owens -- a 7-3 victory that pushed the Shock into Friday’s Mt. Elbert D bracket with a chance to continue playing for the event championship.
The Cheetahs played small ball to get two runs and an early lead in the first inning, but Carson settled in nicely to allow just one more run in the game and give the Shock a second victory of the day. They also defeated the Texas Bombers CTX 16U Gold Hybrid by a 6-2 score to make the box bracket winner’s game.
“The first inning was a little tough, but I tried to settle in, and then after that I was kind of zoned in,” Carson, a rising senior at Shorewood High School, said. “I was only focused on pitching, not worried about anything else, and I didn’t let the umpire’s tight strike zone get to me.
“They had a lot of good hitters and they had a lot of slappers, too, so I was just trying to stay outside and then trying to jam them inside, too. Get them to pop up.”
Carson allowed just eight hits while also striking out six. A sacrifice bunt and a sac fly were instrumental in helping the Chicago squad to a 2-0 advantage, but Alana Powell’s leadoff triple in the fifth inning was the only real hard hit ball that her foes could produce during the game.
Meanwhile, the Shock lineup got going in the third.
Locke started the scoring with a two-out blast. In the fourth, Olivia Halim and Hadley Oylear came up with run-scoring base knocks. And the big blast came off the bat of Carson in the fifth -- a two-run shot that also scored Cam Davidson. Davidson had singled home Gracie Long to make it 4-2, but Carson’s home run provided a nice cushion to work with.
“This was already a good team, so I can’t wait for more competition and more exciting games to play,” Carson said. “We had to get adjusted to their pitcher because she threw a little bit slower, but once we did, we were hitting great.”