By Adam Dunivan
FEDERAL HEIGHTS -- There are several members of the Valley Rage 16U team that have been with the organization for a while, but the 16U team itself was put together just a few short months ago.
It sure doesn’t look like it out on the field as the Colorado 4th of July tournament’s Sparkler Open division rages on.
Coached by Cathy Cole with assistants Kevin Hendrickson and Marc McGuire, the Valley Rage have won all four games they’ve played so far this week, including going 2-0 in box bracket play at Hyland Hills on Thursday. Wins of 4-1 over NTX Ruthless 16U and 9-1 over the River City Wolfpack have established the central California-based team as serious contenders.
“I’m really proud of our team, and from the start of the tournament we’ve just been very solid,” said 2025 catcher Ayla Lacerda. “Everybody’s been working hard.”
Lacerda behind the dish is one reason why the Rage have taken on the look of a veteran team. Just 15 years old and about to enter her freshman year at Turlock High School, Lacerda showed all the makings of a five-tool catcher (though she can play multiple positions). Her three-run home run in the box bracket winner’s game against the Wolfpack showed her power, her two-run double in the same game the speed.
And her savvy framework was spot-on. Of course, one would not catch Lacerda praising her own work.
“Our pitchers did really good, just throwing their strikes .... I really didn’t have to do anything” she said. “I helped them a little bit, but they did their job today.”
Truly, pitchers Cali Cole and Bree Barner were in a certain comfort zone against the Wolfpack -- who had made the winner’s game with a 5-4 win over the O.C. Batbusters Salmeron earlier Thursday. Spotted a 3-0 lead, Cole worked three innings, allowing one hit while striking out five; and coming in with the game score at 6-1, Barner worked three innings, allowed one hit and struck out four.
Defensively, the Rage were sound as well. It all protected a lead that only got bigger in the sixth inning. In addition to Lacerda’s double, Cole’s second hit of the game drove in the final run.
Valley Rage, which pounded out 14 hits against the Wolfpack, will continue play in the Mt. Elbert A winner’s bracket Friday looking to get into the weekend’s main event.