Analytics powered by CSE; look for high D-I coach presence
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - As high-achieving customers ask for events that maximize competition and reflect the 21st-century need to capture and understand performance data, Triple Crown Fastpitch is excited to announce an evolution in our tournament palate.
Superior club programs will join us for the inaugural P5 event, set for June 27-29, 2024 and merging the strengths found at TCS and College Sports Evaluation.
The debut tournament will be anchored at the two collegiate-sized fields located on the TCS campus in Fort Collins, CO., the same complex used for the NISC D-I postseason championship. We’ll also play at four other quality fields in the area. The P5 will be invite-only, drawing clubs with a talent base that reflects a Division I/Power 5 flavor, and teams can play here and make just one trip to the Front Range ahead of the world’s largest fastpitch event, the Colorado 4th of July.
College coaches will also have the opportunity to observe amazing student-athletes at the Patriot Games in nearby Windsor, CO., with 40 top-notch teams from 14u through 18u.
We’re building this event with a dedicated group of high D-I/Power 5 college coaches who will attend and tune their sharp recruiting eye on the teams in action. For all three days, players and coaches will take advantage of analytics insight provided by College Sports Evaluation – a new performance lab capable of gathering data on pitching, hitting and on-field performance was built at Triple Crown in the fall of 2023.
Here are the programs committed to attend the P5 tournament debut:
Canadian U19 National Team (Pending)
Canadian Women’s National Team (Pending)
Louisville Lady Sluggers
TC Colorado Women’s Team
Event page: www.cosparkfire.com/p5.html
Nothing as sweet as victory for Sorcerer Dean/Kimura, winners of five games Sunday and 14u Power Pool Gold title
by Alissa Noe
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — Five games in a single day didn’t seem to wear out Sorcerer Dean/Kimura. If anything, the jam-packed schedule fueled the team out of Martinez, Calif. more in the title game of the 14U National Power Pool Gold bracket at Christopher Fields on Sunday afternoon.
An hour after flattening Epic National in a 9-1 campaign, Sorcerer came out firing on all cylinders against Birmingham Thunderbolts Thompson. They pulled no punches but battered the Bolts in at-bat after at-bat to win an 11-6, sugar-induced victory.
“It was crazy,” right fielder Kymber Dao said. “We were all really tired and we all just had to eat a bunch of candy and energy drinks to really get our energy up and make sure we were ready for this game. Our team is very talented. We always push very hard no matter what, no matter if we're tired or not. No matter if we have candy or not.”
Earlier weather delays constrained the game to just two innings, but that's all Sorcerer needed to secure the Gold.
Sorcerer enjoyed maximum offensive production from Dao, who hit doubles in each of her at-bats, drove in three runs and scored two herself. Shortstop Laila Dean and catcher Bella Granata added their own fireworks with two RBI apiece.
“It really wasn't about their talent, which is off the charts. It was about what's inside of them and their heart and their desire to compete that really set them apart today,” coach John Dean said. “We swing the bat like few other teams, from top to bottom.”
With two outs down and three runners on in the top of the first inning, Laila Dean was the first to put runs on the board with a two-RBI base hit off of the glove of the Thunderbolts' shortstop.
Dao followed her lead, securing her own RBI with a shot to deep center field, before a Thunderbolts error sent two more runners home. Kyla Lujan, soon after, then bombed a ball over the left field wall to put her team up 6-0 after the opening inning of play.
Sorcerer didn't stop there.
On the first pitch of her at-bat in the top of the second, Bella Granata joined in on the fun with her own two-RBI moonshot, which she powered over the center field wall. Dao doubled up on her opening-inning performance with a shot to the same area — this time bouncing off the glove of the center fielder — with another trip to second base and two more RBI to her name.
McKena Harvey rounded out the top of the second with a fielder's choice at third to send another run home and give her team an 11-0 edge. That's when Birmingham's offense woke up, and it certainly made its last gasp of the tournament count.
The Bolts opened the bottom of second frame with three straight hits, and their first RBI belonged to Klara Thompson, whose hard line drive past second base allowed a run to score.
Three batters later, Sorcerer walked Riley Reynolds home to make it 11-2. Corey Goguts kept the party going with the hour, 15-minute deadline fast approaching, as she secured an RBI base hit that followed with another run thanks to an error.
A bit of fielding miscommunication in the final minutes allowed two more runs to score, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early hole that Sorcerer dug. Now, Sorcerer will enter its next tournament with the added confidence of a hard-fought victory.
“It just seemed to be a little bit of confusion about time being on or time being off the clock,” Dean said. “Obviously, they're a really good team, and we didn't want to give them a lot of opportunities to come back. They were putting runs on the board with great effort to get here by them and we felt we needed to make a pitching change in the end to kind of bring in a pitcher (who was) a little bit stronger, a little bit more rested.”
OC Batbusters White Hudson offense hits on all cylinders in 14U National Power Pool championship win over Impact Gold 2K9
By Courtney Oakes
AURORA, Colo. -- Ten out of 10 softball players agree, a ball hit hard in Colorado definitely goes farther.
Lindsay Hudson agreed with that sentiment and the No. 9 hitter for a potent OC Batbusters White Hudson team is grateful for that bit of physics.
Hudson homered in the second inning and came up a triple short of the cycle as part of a 16-hit attack as the Batbusters topped the Impact Gold 2K9 National 11-5 in the 14U National Power Pool championship game of the Colorado 4th of July event at the Aurora Sports Park on Sunday.
“This Colorado air definitely hits different than California air,” said Hudson, whose big fly came in the second inning as she added a double in the fourth inning and RBI single in the fifth.
“(The home run) felt pretty good and definitely made me smile. It made me think of my mom back home watching on Gamechanger.”
Mom — and those fans in attendance to watch the Anaheim, California-based program — got plenty to get excited about with the performance of the Batbusters, who went 3-0 on the final day and finished 9-1 on the tournament.
A dangerous offense had a lot to do with the success, as coach Toby Hudson’s team averaged nearly nine runs per contest. It exceeded that in the victory over the Impact.
It was on display immediately, as the Batbusters notched four runs in the opening inning against standout starter Macie Bryant of the Impact. A two-run single by Lianna Ferrara and a two-run home run by Gianna Garcia put runs on the board, while two of the three outs came via deep fly balls.
It was just a preview of the rest of the game, in which eight of the 10 players who got at least one at-bat had a base hit, seven different players scored runs and Lindsay Hudson, Garcia, Ferrera, Madelyn Armendariz and Piper Kawanaka each drove in two runs.
“This team has been hitting the whole tournament, it’s been amazing,” Toby Hudson said. “We’ve hit lots of home runs, scored a lot of runs. I’m super proud of everybody.”
A four-run fifth inning included Kawanaka’s pinch-hit two-run single and run-scoring hits by Hudson and Reagan Beck. All that meant a lot to starting pitcher Kylee Jepson, who knew she didn’t have to be perfect.
“The insurance runs really helped,” said Jepson, who limited the damage despite allowing 12 hits. “It made me feel really special because I didn’t have to go out and be stressed or nervous. My team really helped with that.”
Jepson did a solid job holding down an Impact team that could swing it as well. They made it to the championship game with a dramatic semifinal win that ended in walk-off fashion on a home run by Celestina Daniels.
Jepson pitched a complete game and did so without recording a single strikeout. After ceding two runs in the bottom of the first, she allowed just three more runs in the ensuing six frames with help from her defense.
A diving stop and throw out from third baseman Kylie Tafua to end the fifth inning snuffed out a potential rally and were among the strong plays made in the field.
“I try to throw strikes and get ahead and just try to help my defense out,” Jepson said.
Added Hudson: “Kylee worked hard and kept grinding. That’s what she does.”
Coach Jared Bryant’s Impact team did get two run-scoring hits from Torie Turner as well as a two-run home run in the fourth inning off the bat of Amariee Bradford, who hit the first pitch she saw over the fence after a double by teammate Izzy Lawrence.
A triple in the sixth inning by Kierstyn Lambeth, who scored on Turner’s single, accounted for the last run for the Impact.
The win capped an interesting week for the Batbusters, who didn’t have a game for two days in the middle of the tournament because of weather interruptions.
It didn’t slow them, however, as they won three times Saturday and three times Sunday, starting with a 9-6 win over Iowa Premier 14U National, which had blanked them 4-0 four days earlier in their lone defeat. The Batbusters then held off a different Impact team (Gold National Mendoza) 7-6 in the semifinals in a game that ended with a batter tagged out at home plate.
“It’s been a great weekend, even without getting to play for two days,” Toby Hudson said. “It was a hard fought battle and these girls worked their tails off. I’m super proud of them.”
There was no rest — yet — for the Batbusters, who after getting the tournament trophy and packing up their equipment had to rush off to the airport to head home after the game went longer than expected.
“This was great, but now we have a flight in about an hour,” Lindsay Hudson said.
Belief never wavers for VA Unity Johnson-Ross as rally leads to 16u Power Pool title at Colorado 4th of July
By Kyle Koso
AURORA, Colo. – What jumped out about the celebration was just how un-celebratory the moment felt.
In the 16u Power Pool title game Sunday at the Colorado 4th of July event, Esther White launched a home run for the Virginia Unity Johnson/Ross squad to start the second inning. Teammates gathered at home plate to welcome her; she got a few pats on the helmet and almost silently the Unity returned to the dugout, now trailing 4-2 against the Oklahoma Athletics Madden-Clemmer at the Aurora Sports Park.
There was no pranking or disrespect implied – ultimately, the Unity simply knew their work was just beginning. That dedication to righting the ship and fulfilling their potential shined brightly in the end as the Unity (Rockvale, TN) claimed a 15-6 victory to earn one of the most prized championships at Triple Crown’s signature fastpitch tournament.
“After Essie hit the home run, I think we were, ‘OK this is how we thought this would go.’ We certainly didn’t think four runs would win the game, and you saw we put up 15,” said Unity coach Tommy Bain. “We were able to get right back in the game.”
Frankie Vrazel singled and scored in the first for Unity, and the Athletics came flying out of the gate as the first four batters reached and scored in the bottom of the frame. The key hit came from Hannah Wells, who sat back on a changeup and muscled a single to right that drove in two runs.
The Unity made a pitching change and called up the right reliever in Jayden Heavener, who is committed to play college softball at LSU and allowed just one hit over three innings, calming the waters until the team could mount the comeback. Heavener herself hit a two-run homer in the third as the Unity plated six runs and asserted control of the contest.
“Mentally, I just stay calm. I know I have a good defense and our hitters are well able to get runners in,” said Heavener, who struck out five batters. “As a group, we used (falling behind) as motivation. We knew we’d come back, we just wanted to do that earlier in the game and not wait until the seventh game where it was a close game. I’m very excited – I haven’t hit a lot this season, but I’m glad we could do this here.”
Ramsey Walker (Arkansas) hit two home runs for Unity; she and White (Georgia) each had three RBI, with White wrapping up the scoring with a triple in the fifth. Destiny Harris (LSU) drove in two runs and Vrazel (Texas A&M) had an outstanding day from the leadoff spot with four hits, three stolen bases and three runs scored.
“I was waiting for a pitch that I could drive and hit hard, not go after her pitch but wait for mine,” Walker said. “We trust each other; we pass the bat and started doing what we know how to do. It was a battle, the whole pitching staff backed each other up, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
”The first at-bat of the game, I like to not get ahead of myself. Even if I take a strike first pitch, I know I have the whole at-bat to work,” Vrazel said. “I hunt for strikes after that, and the first one I see I try to do my job with that. I knew there was a whole game left after we fell behind; we’ve been behind before, and we always come through.”
The Athletics (Bethany, OK) showed one last push in the fifth with solo home runs from Karsen Griggs (Kansas) and Libby Jaques; reliever Morgen Talley wrapped up a bases-loaded jam by getting the final two outs on a liner to shortstop and fly to center.
“We knew all the pitchers were fresh; we’ve got a deep team with 15 kids and we carry four very good pitchers,” Bain added. “No one had been overworked – we felt we’d come in today with the deepest staff, and I think we showed that.”
In the 16u Supplemental Power Pool title game, Tennessee Mojo 2025-Gregory (Portland, TN) topped Preps Academy National-Lopez (Fair Oaks, CA) by a score of 14-1.
AURORA, Colo. – It was a week to be proud of for Head Coach Dave Mercado and the Athletics Mercado 18u Gold team, who went 10-0 on their way to back-to-back Colorado 4th of July 18u Power Pool titles.
After winning the 18u TV Power Pool Championship earlier in the week, Athletics Mercado completed the perfect week with a 7-6 victory over Stryker National Esparza in the 18u Power Pool National Championship.
“I’m proud of them,” Mercado said. “It’s been an up and down battle for us through the season, and we are starting to heat up at the right time which is the name of the game. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Stryker National Esparza struck first in the contest, scoring a run in the top of the first inning off Athletics Mercado’s ace pitcher, Cambria Salmon. After that, Salmon settled down and was nearly unhittable from the second through sixth innings. Athletics Mercado took advantage of Salmon’s pitching and took the lead in the bottom of the second inning when Makenzie Butt launched a solo home run to deep center field followed by Alexa Rosales doing the same just a couple of batters later.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Butt once again found the distance with a solo home run to left field to extend the lead to 3-1, where the score remained until the sixth inning. With three runners on base, Rosales stepped up to the plate and delivered the game-winning grand slam to give Athletics Mercado a 7-1 lead heading into the final inning.
“Up and down, even our slappers have power, but those two (Butt and Rosales) have been very consistent for us,” Mercado said. “It’s been good, they’ve been coming up big.”
The grand slam proved to be more than just insurance runs as Stryker National found their groove once again in the top of the seventh inning and relied on some timely hitting, as well as some defensive miscues from Athletics Mercado, to get back into the game at 7-6. With the tying runner on second base, however, Salmon slammed the door shut on the comeback with a strikeout to secure the title for Athletics Mercado.
VA Glory 14u National Ladia hangs on in a nail-biter for the 14u Supplemental Power Pool Championship
July 2, 2023
Loveland, Colo – Nobody ever said winning was easy, especially when you are at Triple Crown’s Colorado 4th of July. Sunday’s game was a perfect example of how you respond to early losses and adversity, as two teams that started the tournament slow, persevered to fight their way down to the final outs of the event. Virginia Glory 14u National Ladia and Breakers Labs Keush-14u battled it out for the 2023 14u Supplemental Power Pool Championship on Sunday afternoon in an instant classic matchup.
After sluggish starts for both teams earlier in the week to begin play in Colorado, VA Glory carried a five-game winning streak into the title game, while Breakers Labs was riding a six-game stretch of wins.
Breakers Lab third baseman Addie Taufa, wasted little time in her first at-bat, launching a home run over the left field fence to give her team a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Within a matter of minutes, Lillana McAnaw delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the first to tie it up, 1-1.
VA Glory first baseman Mya Cook came up big the follow inning, delivering an RBI single laced into centerfield, putting the Northern Virginia based club back on top 2-1, after two innings. Cook proved to have more where that came from later in the contest.
Breakers’ Charlee Carrillo’s single in the top of the third, followed by a Taufa single to left gave Breakers Labs their final lead of the game, 3-2. Taufa went 2-for-2 on the day with a pair of RBIs for her team.
In the bottom of the third, Glory catcher Abby Burns doubled to center, scoring Myla Harding and Liliana McAnaw, and regaining a lead 4-3 for the Glory and ending the brief outing of Breakers’ reliever Ashlyn Darrow.
In the fifth, Cook added to her impressive day with some insurance, via a solo shot to dead center, extending the VA Glory lead to 5-3. Insurance run aside, things got interesting in the bottom half of the sixth with the game’s time limit approaching.
With the bases loaded, starting pitcher Gabriela McAnaw, sister of shortstop Lillian, needed one out to secure the championship. Breakers’ Avery Walanksi hit a soft single to shallow left, plating one run and creating the play at the plate for the potential game-tying run. The shortstop proved to have her sister’s back, delivering a perfect throw from shallow left to get baserunner Leah Narvaez at the plate and secure the 5-4 victory.
With Head Coach Rachael Ladia, who recently gave birth and had to miss this year’s tournament, watching on at home on the live video stream, her players all waved as they received their medals and completed a remarkable championship run in Colorado.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The saying goes that big time players make big time plays in big time moments. Never was this truer than for Emily Yoon, who recovered from a disappointing pitching performance to hit the game-winning two-run home run to give her Bengals CKM 2010 the 2023 Colorado 4th of July 12u Title over the Corona Angels, 6-4.
“We’ve been playing good softball all year, and this was a goal of ours from the beginning of the year,” said Head Coach Paull Caffrey. “I’m just proud of their effort this week. The girls hit unbelievably well this week. We’re known for having good pitching, we’re spoiled with our staff, and they were amazing for us all week.”
In a championship game that featured two southern California teams very familiar with each other, it was a back-and-forth affair in front of raucous fans. Chants of “Let’s go Angels” and “Let’s go Bengals” permeated the facility. The Bengals looked poised to strike first in the top of the first inning, but the Corona Angels stepped up with a double play and threw a runner out at home to keep the game scoreless.
In the top of the second inning, Corona Angels once again got out of trouble, stranding two Bengals runners on second and third. The Bengals finally pulled through in the top of the third when Kaylyn Yi found the gap up the middle of the defense with a two-RBI single to give her team a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, the Angels finally got something going against Bengals’ pitcher Guliana Vega and scored one run to make it 2-1.
Vega helped her own cause in the top of the fourth inning with a two-RBI single to make it 4-1 and put the momentum right back in the hands of the Bengals. Vega exited the game and made way for Yoon, one of their star pitchers all year, to come pitch. It was not Yoon’s normal performance on the mound, however. The Angels found their offensive rhythm against Yoon came all the way back to tie the game at 4-4 as Yoon was forced to exit the game for Vega again.
Visibly upset in the dugout after relinquishing the lead, Yoon had little time to dwell on her poor performance.
“I feel like after I came out, I was really frustrated,” Yoon said. “I really wanted to help my team win though. Initially I just wanted to get on base, but then I heard them call for an inside pitch and I just turned on it.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Yoon heard the Angels call for an inside pitch. She sat waiting for the inside pitch and turned on it, launching it over left field for her first career home run, giving the Bengals a 6-4 win and the 12u championship.
“You couldn’t script it any better,” Caffrey said. “She has never struggled pitching like that for us all year. She has the most innings, she has the most strikeouts for us, she has been a dominant force. She was visibly upset, and I told her ‘Whatever happened there, you leave that there. That 15 seconds is over, now go win us the game.’ She did that and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
By Courtney Oakes
AURORA, Colo. -- Until the hot bats got fully lit, the Indiana Magic just had to hang around in Saturday afternoon’s 16U Supplemental Power Pool contest at the Colorado 4th of July event.
Coach Bill Neace knew the offensive explosion was coming and it finally arrived in the fourth inning of the Magic’s contest against the hot-starting Empire State Huskies in a sun-splashed meeting at the Kennedy Sports Complex.
A five-run rally pushed Indiana in front for a 9-7 victory that moved the Carmel-based program to 6-1 going into the final day of the tournament. Sydney Vitangcol, Logan Rumble and Jayden Kleiner each had base hits that brought in two runs and Jaylynn Hobbs had the go-ahead single in the fourth for the Magic.
“We knew that if we stayed close, we would have a shot,” Neace said. “Our bats have been pretty hot the last three or four games. We started slow, but we kept it within reach and then struck when we needed to. …The good part about this team is they do not give up. If you just walk up to watch us play, you would not know the score of the game. We fight until the end.”
It was also possible not to know the score given the scoreboard in the outfield was dark, but the Magic themselves knew they had their work cut out for them with a 7-4 deficit against Empire State going into the bottom of the fourth inning with time getting short in the contest that was limited to 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Confidence gained from a rally from a 3-0 deficit the previous day in a 7-4 win over AASA-Swickard/McCafferty paid off for the Magic, which collected three hits, pressured the Huskies defense into a pair of errors and scored five times.
Kami Arnett walked to lead off the pivotal frame against Empire State reliever Madyson Bull — who came on after Amelia Jacob pitched three effective innings — Peyton Dwigins reached as she was hit by a pitch and Lilly Heath walked to load the bases. Kleiner — who had reached in both of her previous at-bats via a walk and a single — doubled in a pair of runs against Jacob (who was reinserted) to tie the game and advanced to third on an errant throw home.
“I was just looking to get something to the outfield, a hard groundball or anything to get the girls in who got on in front of me,” Kleiner said.
Kleiner scored her third run of the game when Hobbs tagged a ball into the gap in left center field to put Indiana in front 8-7. Vitangcol followed with a well-struck single and Hobbs pushed the issue and scored on a throw that sailed over the catcher to the backstop.
“Our coaches were just talking about how we’ve had perseverance this whole tournament and I think that’s how we got through it,” Kleiner added.
Once in the lead relievers Chloe Tanner and Vitangcol, who went 3-for-3, including a two-run single in the first inning, held Empire State scoreless in the fifth and the game reached its time limit with the Magic batting in the bottom of the inning.
It was a rare scoreless frame for the Huskies, who were difficult to deal with offensively in the early going. Leadoff hitter Alyssa Platero especially vexed Indiana.
Platero homered in each of the first two innings — a solo shot to left center field on the first pitch of the game and a two-run blast to center in the second inning — and in between, the Huskies played small ball.
Four consecutive bunts — which included a successful squeeze by Sydney Benware — flustered the Magic’s defense and helped create a four-run inning.
A failed bunt, twice in the same at-bat, oddly produced two more runs for Empire State in the fourth. With Benware aboard with a single, No. 9 hitter Ava Lichtenberger twice tried to lay down sacrifice bunts, but fouled off both attempts to go down in the count 1-2. Lichtenberg then swung away and drilled a pitch over the left center field to put her team in front 7-4.
The Magic have suffered just one loss in seven games (which came to Team North Carolina Thursday) and now turn their attention towards the final day of the tournament.
“We get the rest of the day off to rest up and get ready for hopefully a long day tomorrow,” said Neace, whose team opens championship bracket play with an 8 a.m. contest at Kennedy Sports Complex against Premier Fastpitch.
Added Kleiner: “If we do what we did today, persevere and pick each other up, we can go far.”
Empire State, which hails from the Yorktown Heights, New York area, dropped to 4-3 in the tournament. The Huskies have an 8 a.m. contest at Kennedy Sports Complex on Sunday against Centex Buzz Gold.
It would take three wins for either team to advance to the championship game at 2 p.m.
by Alissa Noe
THORNTON, Colo. — Kaitlyn Maston needed only one pitch to play hero for her Rock Gold Premier–De Leon/Manetta team at Riverwalk Ball Fields on Saturday.
After the Carolina Cardinals had tied up the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning, Maston stepped up to the plate, hoping to put an end to their rally. On the first pitch off of Carolina’s Kaylie DeChiccchis, she sent the ball flying over the center field wall.
Her team stampeded out of the dugout to meet her at home plate.
“I knew as soon as she hit it, it was gone,” head coach Luis de Leon said.
The 4-3 victory not only secured a spot in Sunday’s single elimination tournament for Rock Gold, but it opened up the floodgates for a player that had been hitting a wall all week during the 16U Colorado 4th of July tournament’s Supplemental Power Pool. She finished the matchup with three RBI off of three hits, all while batting a perfect 1.000.
It didn’t hurt that her ace, Courtney Wahlbrink, kept her team steady from the circle with eight strikeouts and only three earned runs — two of which came in the top of the sixth. Rock Gold, on the other hand, only struck out four times.
“It felt really great. I've been struggling a little this tournament and it felt really good to figure it out this game,” Maston said. “I just haven't been really squaring balls up right. I just knew I had to get on base for them to score me in. I was just focusing on staying on top and hitting a line drive.”
The Cardinals managed to get on the board early, as Madisyn Weathers’ line drive to shallow center field allowed Emma Salzman to score in the top of the first inning. Despite striking first, they couldn’t match the heat Maston was bringing in the batter’s box.
Maston got the ball rolling for Rock Gold in the bottom of the second inning when her fly ball to shallow left field sent Ava Difato home, then repeated in the fourth frame the feat with a shot to center field to propel another to score.
An inning later, Heather Robertson snuck a run in on a perfectly-placed bunt. Rock Gold led 3-1 heading into the sixth inning, with the hour, 45-minute time limit fast approaching.
Carolina didn’t waste it.
Cate Raines singled on a fly ball to center field as Shayna Suttles logged the second run for the Cardinals, then they scored again two at-bats later on an error at shortstop. Wahlbrink stopped the bleeding shortly thereafter, leaving two runners stranded after Carolina forced the bottom of the sixth.
Maston ended the suspense quickly after that. Rock Gold will now move into the single elimination bracket on Sunday for the finale of the tournament with a 4-3 record.
“It's been real competitive,” De Leon said. “We're facing good competition. We haven't faced any easy teams or anything like that.”
by Kyle Koso
LOVELAND, Colo. — Working through problems the right way when it all feels wrong is the hallmark of a successful softball program.
In 14u Gold action at the Sparkler Juniors event Saturday, the Tennessee Thunderbolts 2027 squad enjoyed an early boost from grabbing the lead. A patch of lousy weather fell at a bad time, affecting their pitcher, and a consequential error in left field allowed the FC Medina-Martinez 2027 team to tie the game at the Barnes Complex.
But the Bolts went to work in the fifth inning, methodically deploying the offense to plate two big runs, allowing the team to advance to Sunday’s championship bracket with a 7-5 victory.
“We preach to them all the time, it doesn’t matter if you made the mistake or what the situations now, we want you to learn and flush it — have a short memory and focus on what’s coming next,” said head coach David West. “If we focus on the negative, that ball will find you on defense … if you’re the pitcher who gave up a home run, or walk, or hit a batter, your next pitch is the one that can gets out of the inning.”
The Bolts started the fifth with a single from Madison Pinkelton, her third hit of the day. Reagan Schmitz dropped a surgical sacrifice bunt as Pinkelton moved to second base, and Hattie Graham launched a double to deep right-center that fell between the two outfielders to give the Bolts a 6-5 lead. After Graham stole third base and a walk, Irelynn Beecham made enough contact to bring in Graham — that’s when the game-time limit was reached, and the Bolts could celebrate their efforts.
“I feel like I just got out of a hitting slump, actually. I used to just swing for the fences, but now I’m trying to make good contact, move baserunners around and I’m getting hits that way,” Pinkelton said. “We’ve said we will play for each other, not let each other down.”
The Bolts scored four runs in the first — Mycah Mays and Beecham each drove in a run with singles, and Kinsley Belcher brought in two more with a two-out double. The Firecrackers countered with three runs in the top of the second, a messy inning with all the runs coming across on passed balls and wild pitches as the rain pelted down.
Bolts reliever Taylor Moreland settled down the situation and got through three innings; the Firecrackers tied it up 5-5 in the fifth when an error in left field allowed Sadie Burroughs to come all the way home after hitting a single.
But the Bolts had a plan, all capped by Graham’s double to the fence.
“That at-bat, I just timed her up. I asked my teammates if she had a lot of spin and they said no,” Graham said. “I just went with the pitch, honestly. We just stayed together, On the field, off the field, we are family. That’s what matters the most, having your teammate’s back.”
The Bolts start Sunday play with a 10 a.m. 14u Gold quarterfinal game.
by Alissa Noe
WESTMINSTER — MOJO-AZ Vela may have left the desert, but they certainly brought the heat with them.
On Thursday afternoon at Tepper Fields, during the 18U Sparkler softball tournament, the team from Phoenix brought the fire at the plate early before routing Mid-MO Evolution with a 14-1 final.
The Evolution, in defeat, achieved something no other team had through the Colorado 4th of July competition. They scored on a team that will enter Friday with a perfect 4-0 record. It couldn’t have happened at a better time for MOJO.
“They're gelling at the right time,” head coach Rey Vela said. “A lot of these girls are new to us — half the team is — and they're just family-oriented. We took everybody in at the same time and just became a family real quick. With that happening, that helped us elevate our game a little bit.”
Amid a team of hard-core sluggers, no player stood out more than Haleigh Reed, who homered in each of her two first inning at-bats, including a grand slam, to net six RBI in the first frame alone. She added one more a couple innings later to further dominate the diamond.
The MOJO scored their first run on a catcher error in the bottom of the first, then unleashed Reed. She began her day with a two-run homer over the left field wall, but the bases didn't stay clear for long. The next two batters got on base via singles before Rachel Kates sent them both home on her own base hit.
Bailey Bencs, in the next at-bat, added to the slug fest with her own moon shot to send in two more scores. Not to be outdone, Reed then ended the first frame with a grand slam to give her team an 11-0 edge heading into the second.
“It was definitely exciting. It was something that has never happened before,” Reed said. “I've never had at least two home runs in one game either. In one inning is even better. That was my first grand slam.”
MOJO didn't stop there.
Bencs added to her stat sheet with a two-run double in the bottom of the second to further bury the Evolution 13-0. Mid-MO finally managed to respond in the top of the third with — what else? — a solo bomb from Avery Deprima over the left-center fences.
Reed responded in the bottom of the same inning with an RBI sac fly to make it 14-1.
With the victory, MOJO will enter the next phase of the double-elimination Mt. Elbert bracket as the No. 2 seed on Friday. They've already more than proven their stock among the best teams in the competition, and hope to continue to do so under the watchful eyes of college coaches.
“I tell them to stay within themselves, don't get excited,” Vela said. “Runs will come and it'll happen to us once in a while. Hopefully not, but they've been seeing the ball well, and when one is down, they all try to pick each other up. They say, ‘Hey, you got the next one. I'm going to pick you up now. It's my turn to hit the ball.’”
by Savvy Rafkin
WESTMINSTER, Colo. – For some teams, participating in a national tournament requires traveling to another state. For those based in Colorado, making a showing at an elite event is as convenient as ever.
Finishing up pool play on Thursday afternoon, the PB Outlaws 18A split their games, finishing with an overall record of 1-3 heading into bracket play.
Thursday’s 7-6 win against NW Ambush 18A didn’t come easily for the team. After falling short by one run in the first game, it was time to turn up the heat. The lineup answered the call and put up three runs in the top of the first inning.
The advantage didn’t last long as the Ambush responded with four runs. Refusing to back down from the challenge, another two runs put the Outlaws ahead of their opponent for the final time and lock down their victory.
For the team, the best part about playing in the Triple Crown Sparkler isn’t just the competition. After facing elite rosters from out of state, each win provides a sense of state pride.
“You have to show out for your state,” Outlaws head coach Claude Vigil said. “It’s the biggest tournament in the country and you need to be able to do well for your home state. We’ve been talking to the girls for a while now, and they came out and played well this weekend.”
Though finishing with a losing record in pool play, Vigil acknowledges some difficulties the roster has had to overcome. At the start of the season, weather prevented the ability to play in several vital developmental tournaments.
“We didn’t have any tournaments at the beginning of the season because of the weather,” second baseman Nevaeh Martinez said. “We fell behind. All these teams have been around all season. It’s been hard.”
Heading into bracket play, the Outlaws are focusing on not putting too much pressure on themselves. As an 18U team with college ball on the horizon, creating memories can be just as vital as polishing skills.
“My main goal is to have fun with my teammates,” catcher Georgia Brooks said. “This is one of our last tournaments playing together with this team, all of us together.”
The Outlaws will have their bracket play debut on Friday afternoon at Pawlowski Fields.
By Savvy Rafkin
NORTHGLENN, Colo. – With hundreds of teams flooding into Colorado to participate in the Triple Crown 4th of July event, attention can be hard to come by.
Especially with new competition from national competitors, every team is forced to adjust their strategy to capitalize on their strengths and hide their weaknesses. The 16U Nevada Hotshots Gooch 24/25 found themselves on the losing end of their first game, suffering an 8-3 defeat against the Texas Hooks Elite.
Refusing to be discouraged by an unideal first game and only having under 30 minutes to recuperate, the Hotshots suited up for their second bout against the Finesse West Riemersma at the Northwest Open Space complex Wednesday afternoon.
After the first inning, the Hotshots had only tallied one run. Holding their opponent scoreless at the bottom of the first, it was back to the offensive side, where the lineup went to work and added another four runs to their lead in the top of the second.
With things looking positive and continuing to keep their opponent off the scorecard, the Hotshots sealed their fate after breaking into an unstoppable rally to drive in 12 runs in the third inning and happily walked away with a 21-7 victory.
Every player crossed the plate at least once, though several made it a routine. Catcher Brooke Baxter shined offensively, hitting a single in the first inning, a home run in the second inning, followed by a walk in the third.
“It makes me feel good that I’m performing for my team, and we did well as a team,” she said. “It makes me feel good that my hard work is paying off. I thought (my homerun) was a double, but I was glad it wasn’t.”
Joining her in success was teammate, Layni Noonkester, who hit a grand slam in the third inning and third baseman, Mckenna Timmons, who was only a triple short of hitting for the cycle.
But adding a tally to the win column was not what mattered to Hotshots head coach Joe Gooch. In fact, it was simply a bonus. Leading up to this tournament, Gooch had assigned his players the task of reaching out to college coaches, hoping at least a few would find themselves in the stands.
To his pleasure, he spent a majority of the game chatting with coaches his players invited to the game.
“My girls are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “Last time we were out here, we only saw one coach. The coaches here happened because they are doing all the right stuff. It’s good to see them. Last year when we were here, we went into championship Sunday and only saw a few as we got later in.”
With smiles on their faces and a fresh win in their pocket, coach and players alike are hopeful for what the rest of the tournament has to offer.
The tournament veterans will play their final two pool play games on Thursday with their eyes on the prize and the confidence to take the tournament title.
“I expect to win,” Timmons said. “Get as far as we can, get to championship Sunday, and catch a dub.”
No change in the forecast -- Athletics/Mercado 18 Gold proving its strength, roll to 18u TV Power Pool victory
by Kyle Koso
WESTMINSTER, Colo. — At the highest level of softball you’ll see at the Colorado 4th of July event, pitchers need a fair dose of optimism to throw anything less than their hardest offerings.
But when Cambria Salmon is in her groove, batters have to be pessimistic about their chances.
Anchoring her approach in the circle for the Athletics-Mercado 18 Gold by throwing changeups repeatedly and relentlessly, Salmon tied up the Georgia Bombers with seven standout innings of work Wednesday as the Athletics secured a 9-1 victory in the 18u TV Power Pool game at Christopher Fields. Salmon, headed to play at the University of Texas in 2024, gave up five hits to go with six strikeouts and no walks, with one hit batter.
No doubt, with the Mercado offense muscling up behind her with six home runs, Salmon could do her job with full confidence. Even if the Bombers knew a changeup was coming, and there certainly was no mystery about it, Salmon kept the opposition tied in knots.
“In my honest opinion, it’s never been my best pitch. It usually comes around at this time of year, and it feels like this year, it’s really coming around,” Salmon said. “I am a lot more confident in it. I think knowing my pitch caller (assistant coach Mark Smith) knows what he’s doing … I trust him. It helps me have confidence the pitch, and to know it’s there for a reason. If I throw it right, it’ll do what it needs to do.”
The Bombers made real solid contact just twice, a home run from Savanna Bedell (a LSU commit) to lead off the second and a double by Karli Godwin (Oklahoma State).
Meanwhile, the Athletics needed a few innings to dial in offensively, but they rang up runs soon enough. Mya Perez (Texas A&M) led off the second with a homer; Makenzie Butt (Boise State) and Alexa Rosales (Ole Miss) each hit two-run shots in the fourth, and Priscilla Llamas (Ole Miss) and Jada Lewis (Arizona State) went yard in the fifth. Rosales notched her second home run of the night in the sixth.
“We maybe have to go through the lineup once to see the pitchers, seeing what they throw and what pitches we want to hit,” Rosales said. “After that, we’re good. My first one, hit it on the first pitch — I was looking in. Playing behind (Salmon) is amazing; she did really good in the circle and I’m happy to play behind her. I think I had just one ball (to right field) today.”
“(The offense) makes it so much easier. They add insurance runs, and you know that it’s OK if you happen to miss a pitch,” Salmon added.
Athletic coach Dave Mercado said this year’s group is one of his more explosive at the plate and agreed that once they get a look at a pitcher, they are very hard to keep down on the scoreboard.
“The Bombers have good pitching, so it’s going to take us a round or two to adjust to that,” he said. “I like it all with this group — we are pitching well, playing good defense and hitting the ball. Our offense is definitely one of the stronger ones we’ve had, and when the energy is up and we’re swinging like that, it’s tough to beat.”
by Alissa Noe
BRIGHTON, Colo. — There’s just something about the air in Colorado.
On Wednesday afternoon at the Brighton Sports Complex, the Georgia Impact and Northwest Bullets, located in Portland and Washington, proved just why as the Impact soared to a 10-4 victory highlighted by four home runs.
The aptly-named 18U Fireworks Power Pool matchup between the Impact and Bullets provided no shortage of firepower, as each team swung for the fences and conquered them.
“I think we've had a home run in each game,” Impact coach Dylan Casstevens said. “We know how it is up here in Colorado. Balls fly. But the thing is, we stay hard through everything, especially with our approaches. Early in counts, we're looking for one thing and one thing only, until they give us something else to chase after.”
Nobody could touch the numbers that Georgia’s Kelley Feigen threw down, or — more accurately — put up in the air. In her three at-bats, Feigen secured not one, but two home runs, including a grand slam, to drive six runs across home plate.
The Impact started and ended the contest firing on all cylinders. Feigen began her day with a two-run moon shot over the left field wall in the bottom of the first inning. Not to be outdone, Carli Pearson repeated the feat in the very next at-bat with a solo bomb to center field.
“It was my first grand slam ever,” Feigen said. “I've been playing for nine years and never hit one. Just having my team back me up — we all had so much energy in the dugout, which I think helped everybody. In the beginning of the game, I hit one, then one of my best friends Carli hit one back-to-back. I think it just got the energy up and just kept it going.
“I think the thin air did definitely help. I think I hit three today in total. I like Colorado so far.”
That put the Bullets in a 3-0 hole from the very beginning, but they didn’t let that deter them. Slowly, but surely, they chipped away at that lead until it ceased to exist.
In the top of the second, Northwest's Kiley Campos put her team on the board with aggressive base running that set her up perfectly for the passed ball that sent her flying toward home. The Impact ended the frame shortly thereafter, and couldn’t improve upon their now 3-1 lead before the end of the second.
They reserved that extra cushion for the bottom of the third, when Pearson added to her stat sheet with a sac fly to center field to bring Raeleigh Hocker home. They didn’t stay comfortable for long.
Northwest's Kamdyn Hagerty led off the top of the fourth with a home run of her own, in a move that began to turn the tides in her team's favor. Her teammates didn't waste the opportunity.
The next two batters put themselves into a position to score thanks to a base hit followed by a double, which set Lauryn Krick and Alexis Mulligan up perfectly. Both sent runs home, one at a time, to tie the contest up at 4-4.
The Impact didn’t quite like that.
With the hour, 45-minute time limit quickly creeping up on them, Georgia pulled out its shovels. Every base hit, every walk that the Impact secured to start out the bottom of the fourth dug a deeper and deeper hole for the Bullets to try to escape.
They hit paydirt first with an RBI base hit from Jocelyn O'Keeffe, then added to the scoreboard with a walk that sent a runner home. Feigen then capped off her banner day with a grand slam over the left field wall, the ball mercifully landing just short of the foul line.
Now, the Impact will advance to the supplemental pool with a 3-1 tournament record, where they’ll be facing bigger and better teams under the watchful eyes of more college scouts.
“It's really about making adjustments,” Casstevens said. “It's something we haven't done. We didn't do it last game, but we made the adjustments going forward, and were able to see balls out of the hand instead of reading it off the eyes. Hitting is contagious and anything in the dugout you can get going, especially with talking and cheering on your team helps.”
WESTMINSTER, Colo. – After the first day of pool play in the 18u Sparkler division, OC Batbusters – Martin have positioned themselves well, going 2-0 on the day.
“I think we can play a little bit better,” head coach John Martin said. “We were a little bit off today; I think we were just getting used to the altitude and everything. Once we get settled in, I think we’ll be even better moving forward.”
After an exciting 11-10 victory over Building Champions White out of the Kansas City area, OC Batbusters – Martin knocked off Cubs RBI, based out of Chicago, 13-5 in their second game of the day of the Colorado 4th of July trounament.
It didn’t take long for the Batbusters to find their rhythm. After holding the Cubs to a scoreless top of the first inning, the Batbusters scored twice in the bottom of the frame with RBI singles from Destiny Munguia and Nailah Long. The Cubs tied it up with a two run home run in the top of the second and held a 5-4 advantage heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the Batbusters never panicked.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Long once again put the Batbusters out front with a two-RBI single to make it 6-5. Sarah Quiors followed suit with a two-RBI triple to make it 8-5, and a sac fly from Christina Contreras put the team up 9-5.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Quiors once again found a gap to drive in a run, and Sariah Sanchez ended the game with a three-run home run to straightaway center field to push the game to 13-5.
by Savvy Rafkin
LOVELAND, Colo. – When preparing to play in a week-long tournament, momentum is everything.
For the 14u Oklahoma Angels 08, Tuesday afternoon at Barnes Softball Complex gave the team a good idea of what the competition would look like as they try to make a deep run into the Colorado Sparkler Juniors tournament.
The squad already had an advantage over their opponent, the Texas Riptide. Earlier that morning, the Angels stored a 9-2 victory in their scorebook, giving them the rush of confidence to feed their following victory with a score of 8-1.
It didn’t take long for the Angels to get on the board. Driving two runs across the plate in the top of the first inning, they slowly widened their lead over Riptide, never once falling behind their rival.
Head coach Derek Martin wasn’t surprised by this success, as he used the same strategy as in the game earlier in the day: capitalizing on the short game.
“That’s just how we play,” he said. “That’s just our type of ball. We have some power hitters, but we focus on moving base to base. Once we got the lead, I just let them hit.”
Though they lacked to tally any additional runs on the scoreboard until the fifth inning, the Angels continued to add pressure to Riptide, resulting in several two-out rallies. By the top of the fifth, they managed to break through their dry spell and added another two runs to their lead.
The lineup was anything but surprised by their performance. If anything, the game was used to restore faith in their own playing.
“I was in a little bit of a slump and we’re able to hit now, so that’s nice,” utility player Jesse Shuman said. “I just got more confident in myself, and I wasn’t so stressed all the time. I was just worried about hitting the ball.”
With a solid strategy and consistent energy in the dugout, the group is focusing on enjoying the moment, especially as they plan to move to 16u next season.
“Just playing with the girls and having fun (is the best part),” pitcher Addison Dodson said. “We worked hard to get here, and I think we could go far in this tournament.”
The Angels will finish up their pool play games Wednesday afternoon, their first game starting at 8 a.m., followed by a 12 p.m. game.
14u Athletics Mercado Tidd take flight in fifth inning, advance in Sparkler Juniors Power Pool action
by Alissa Noe
ERIE, Colo. — When the best of the best 14u softball teams come out to Colorado for the annual July 4 tournament, players and fans alike can expect the fireworks to fly.
That at least was the case Tuesday morning at Erie Community Park when, in a Power Pool matchup that featured the Miami Stingrays and Athletics Mercado Tidd/Bustamante (Temecula, Calif.), Athletics Mercado overcame an early 1-0 deficit to subdue the Stingrays with a boisterous fifth inning to win 6-1.
All they needed was one hit to make their offense go viral.
Lilly Ann Hauser got the party started in the top of the fifth with a ground rule double to left-center field. The ball, which rolled under the netted fence, allowed Brooklyn Berni to score. In the next at-bat, Charli Calas repeated the feat with a ground rule double, this time to right center, to send two more runs across home plate.
Kharlee Sanders, who stepped into the pinch-hitting role for a sacrifice bunt, instead sent another runner home while making it safely to first herself. That set up Taylor Johns for a perfect hit to center field, this time over the fence, to complete Athletics Mercado’s six-run offensive surge.
“It just has to start with someone,” Johns said. “It felt good. I was just trying to tell myself to get a base hit and then it just happened.”
That bomb provided the perfect ending for a team that had been frustrated by stranded runners all morning. When Stingrays pitcher Sasha Seidel finally gave them the opportunity, they ran with it.
Miami, on the other hand, owed its single run to a base hit from Caitlyn Diaz in the top of the first inning. The Stingrays maintained control of the contest up until that final frame. After one hour, 45 minutes of play, they simply ran out of time to respond.
Now, Athletics Mercado will return to Erie Community Park for the next round of the No. 1 seeds bracket on Wednesday at 8 a.m. Head coach Brian Tidd believes that any of the 60 teams in attendance could win the whole tournament, but his girls are one step closer to making that a reality.
“We put the bat on the ball pretty hard,” Tidd said. “A lot of innings, left some runners on base and just kind of needed to get that key hit. Once we got the one hit, then we kind of opened it up a little bit. We just kind of had to be patient. She was pitching pretty well, so we just had to scramble to get the one to tie it and then kind of opened it up after that.”
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – With more than 1,100 teams from ages 12u through 18u in the pipeline, there’s a massive flow of softball action coming to the Front Range thanks to the Triple Crown Sports Colorado 4th of July event, slated for June 23-July 2, 2023.
Stretching from Fort Collins, Windsor and Greeley all the way down the I-25 corridor through Denver to Colorado Springs, the 4th of July tournament brings a coast-to-coast mix of the nation’s most competitive and high-achieving club programs as the TCS fastpitch division puts over 40 complexes and 150 fields in motion.
The event has long been a prized destination for college coaches and programs as they look for talent to fortify their rosters. Showcase games as well as tournament play will put athletes in front of more than 500 coaches; added value comes through a series of camps and clinics directed by the coaching staffs from national D-I powerhouses through NAIA and JUCO programs.
Returning for a third year to the 4th of July menu is the TC International Challenge, which kicks off the excitement from June 23-25 at the Christopher Fields complex in Westminster. Brackets at both 16u and 18u have been built to give players a unique opportunity to represent their nationalities and provide another recruiting highlight on the schedule.
Tournament officials are gearing up for two powerful convergence moments during the event, on the evenings of June 28 at Christopher Fields and June 29 at Aurora Sports Park. Both nights will feature all-star and power pool games to be broadcast by ESPN3, along with multiple vendors, food and merchandise options – thousands of people are expected to attend each location. The younger age groups get their own moment to shine on Monday, June 26 with the 12u Player Party in Colorado Springs and the 14u Player Party in Loveland.
College Sports Evaluation will be running a series of camps throughout the Colorado 4th of July event as well as their must-qualify events, which will have top-performing athletes showcasing their skills using sensor data technology while college coaches watch live.
Other key numbers revolving around the Colorado 4th of July event include:
The 12u and 14u Sparkler Juniors brackets will play out in Colorado Springs and north of Denver, respectively. Championship day for 12u is Saturday, July 1, and for all other age divisions is Sunday, July 2.
“So many youth softball programs secure their spot at Colorado 4th of July early, just as we never delay in tackling the work to prepare for the next one,” said TCS fastpitch event director Stephanie Klaviter. “It’s a point of pride to know how many families and teams insist on putting the event on their calendar, and we are humbled by the number of college programs that use the games, clinics and camps to help prepare for their own road ahead. We’re such big fans of the sport and really love seeing how softball continues to grow.”
AURORA, Colo. – In a game that featured 11 home runs, the Minnesota Magic National came back and knocked off Georgia Power Gold, 14-13, in the 18u Supplemental Championship on Sunday afternoon in a highly-dramatic back-and-forth game.
University of Minnesota commit Jessa Snippes led the way for the Minnesota Magic with two home runs and four RBIs, including the game-winning RBI in the top of the seventh inning. Snippes got things started for the Magic with a solo home run in the first inning, but Georgia Power quickly responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
After both teams went scoreless in the second inning, the Magic once again showcased its offensive firepower with a solo home run from Kendal Jenkins and then a two-run home run from Catherine Smetna, to give the team a 4-2 lead.
Georgia Power answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning to make it 4-3, and looked primed to add plenty more runs to the inning. With runners on second and third with two outs, a ground ball was smashed hard down the left side of the field. Magic third baseman Bryn Ruhberg made a diving leap for the ball, gathering it in her glove, and from a seated position, threw across the diamond to narrowly get the out at first and saved at least two runs.
After the Power tied the game in the fourth inning, the Magic once again cleared the fence with a two-run home run from Snippes again. In the bottom half of the inning though, the Power gained all the momentum, scoring seven runs in the inning, including a bases-clearing three-RBI single and a three-run home run.
Trailing 11-6, it didn’t take long for the Magic to get back into this back-and-forth game once again. In fact, it just took the next half inning, as the Magic once again utilized the long ball. Avery Wukawitz got things started for Minnesota with a 3-run home run, and then Smetna tied the game up with her second two-run home run of the day.
Georgia Power was resilient, though, and seized the momentum pack from Minnesota in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-run home run to regain the lead, 13-11, and force Minnesota into its last three outs. The Magic came through with their backs against the wall, however. Taylor Gray quickly tied the game up with a two-run home run, the eleventh home run of the game, and the Snippes came through with an RBI single to give the Magic a 14-13 lead, and ultimately the win.
by Eddie Herz
COMMERCE CITY, Colo –– The Alabama Firecrackers instantaneously jeopardized Alabama Sparks Elite-Stewart's aspirations of not only snatching the Colorado 4th of July 16u Supplemental Championship trophy, but also the club's chances of even maintaining striking distance.
A 3-0 deficit transpired for head coach Slade Stewart's club before most Sparks supporters settled into their seats at Pioneer Park's Capra Field. And after falling behind early, the Sparks still found themselves staring a seemingly uncomfortable disadvantage dead in the eye as Sunday evening's latter stages approached.
Nevertheless, though down, the Sparks were never out. Nor did Stewart's team's confidence dwindle in the slightest as a 3-0 first-frame deficit lingered for several innings.
While their eyes remained locked to the prize despite adversity, the Sparks continued believing en route to forging a 9-3 bracket-clinching victory.
"We've got some dogs," Stewart described. "It doesn't matter if they get down or by how much. They always have faith. They always play hard and stay together. They know the game and gel a ton. Winners always respond, and that's what they did."
Conquering 2022's tournament –– which entailed winning four games on Sunday –– didn't occur as any sort of shock to the Sparks.
The triumphant mindset, admirable competitiveness and commendable cohesion Stewart alluded to produced high hopes for the squad when traveling to Colorado. Additionally, the Sparks entered the Centennial State owning extreme confidence in light of their prowess at the plate –– and knack for erupting offensively at any given moment.
"If you hit, you don't sit, and that's what got us here," Stewart said. "We don't always play great defense. But if you hit like we can, you have a chance to win every game. So we liked our chances going in as long as we played hard like we always do."
Though doing so required a few underwhelming frames, the Sparks' at-the-dish dominance eventually revealed itself as Stewart's organization mounted a ferocious comeback. Specifically, after trimming the score to 3-1 in the third, the Sparks fabricated a six-run fourth-inning outburst to storm ahead 7-3.
Following a run-scoring hit-by-pitch, second baseman Morgan Stiles turned the frame into a riveting rally when launching a one-out grand slam to dead center.
"I was just trying to put it in play, give our runners a chance to score and give our team a shot to tie the game," Stiles said. "It was incredible to see it go over the fence and see how my team reacted."
Sparks players only returned to their dugout for a few seconds following Stiles' surefire shot as Katie Schuler went back-to-back with the second baseman upon pelting her own dinger –– extending the Sparks' lead to 7-3.
From there, it was smooth sailing for the soon-to-be Supplemental champions. And the reason Sunday's conclusive segments proved drama-free had plenty to do with pitcher Ash Coble and center fielder Presley Lively.
Tasked with keeping the Sparks in contention, Stiles took the mound in relief to begin Sunday's second inning while her troupe trailed 3-0. Though the finals constituted her fourth outing of the day, fatigue didn't hinder the reliable right-hander whatsoever.
Upon hurling six shutout innings in which she yielded merely four hits and zero walks, Coble comfortably coasted atop the bump.
"I did everything in my power to keep us in it," Coble said. "I came in knowing I had to shut them down. Making sure I was whipping it with a lot of spin was big for me."
As for Lively, the center fielder played a substantial role in halting a last-gasp Firecrackers rally by manufacturing a pair of web gems. With a runner on first and no outs in the seventh, Lively corralled a practically unfathomable catch when diving over the outfield fence on the dead run to rob a would-have-been two-run homer.
Two pitches later, she snagged a liner and fired a strike to catcher Avery Wynne, who tagged the runner advancing from third at the plate –– an electrifying double play that slammed the door on Sunday's action.
"My teammate hit a grand slam. So I said if she can give it all for me, I can give it my all for her," Lively said. "Our pitcher pitched four times today. If she can give that much effort, I can give that much effort for her. So I went out there trying to do everything I could to help us win."
The road to capturing a title varies from champion to champion. No matter the details of such journey, prevailing as tournament winners always provides extreme satisfaction. Still, it's worth noting that Sunday's outcome tastes extra sweet for the Sparks in light of how 2021's festivities unraveled.
Last year, Stewart's group suffered a deflating 16u Supplemental semifinal loss when falling victim to elimination despite leading with only a few outs remaining. Hence, the Sparks returned with a vengeance in 2022. And, this time around, they wouldn't be denied.
"Winning this means so much because of what happened last year," Lively said. "That hurt a lot, and we've wanted this really bad ever since. So it feels amazing to come out here and get what we deserved. It wasn't easy, but we never backed down and kept pushing. I'm so proud of our team."
"It's huge for the organization, and I can't say enough about the kids," Stewart added. "Every single one of them did their part."
By Courtney Oakes
AURORA, Colo. -- Hampered by injuries and with only two pitchers available, the Hotshots Jones team seemed ill-equipped to make the grueling journey to the championship game of the 16u Power Pool.
But coach Steve Jones’ team has the type of grit, heart and belief that is able to overcome all sorts of adversity, and it did so on many occasions throughout the week on its way to winning the championship of the Colorado 4th of July tournament.
The Hotshots dug out of an early five-run hole with back-to-back explosive rallies and went on to a 13-8 victory over the Tampa Bay Mustangs Rene on a blustery afternoon game Sunday at the Aurora Sports Park. It was the fourth game of the day for both squads and the Texas-based Hotshots simply found another way to win.
“We’re down some key players and we only have two pitchers, but the rest of the girls stepped up,” Jones said. “The thing about this team that's special is that I don’t know who is going to step up in a game. I’m proud of them being able to do what they did with the players that were out.”
To get to the championship game, the Hotshots won a one-run decision to open the day, followed with a 10-run decision and then needed a four-run rally in the final inning for an 11-8 walk-off win (courtesy of a three-run home run by Kennedy Marceaux) over Firecrackers Brashear.
One of the Hotshots’ three regular pitchers had shoulder soreness and Jones decided to hold her out of the tournament to heal, leaving all of the pitching duties to Mali West (Class of 2025) and Amy Abke (2023), who alternated on the mound all week and in the championship contest. It was West (a left-hander) who got the start against a Tampa Bay team that came in hot after pulling off a late rally of its own to defeat the Oklahoma Athletics National 13-8, which followed two close victories earlier in the day.
West fell behind by two runs just five batters into the game after Riley Onisawa drew a bases-loaded walk and Ella Dodge singled in another run. She later surrendered her first two home runs of the tournament — quite a feat given how much the ball seems to fly off the bats of visitors to Colorado — as Lauren Luciani (solo) and Tayten Moore (a three-run shot) put coach Rene Ciccarello Jr.’s Mustangs ahead 6-1 at that point.
Despite the deficit, West — who was replaced in the inning by Abke — knew the game was far from over with the way her team plays.
“I actually didn’t give up any bombs until this game, but spin was the key in Colorado,” West said. “The ball didn’t have as much spin, so you had to work harder in the air out here. I was a little bit nervous, but it was good. We always come around.”
And come around the Hotshots — who returned to the tournament after playing in a different one last summer — did.
After barely getting the ball out of the infield over the first three innings against Tampa Bay starting pitcher Isabella Vega — whose lone run given up in those early frames came when a wild pitch followed by an error allowed Hailey Golden to score — the Hotshots rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning that included home runs from second baseman Kristyn Whitlock and third baseman Bryanna Fuentes.
Fuentes would homer again in the next inning to plate three runs as the Hotshots surged to a 10-6 lead.
“It felt great in the moment,” said Fuentes, who drove in five runs on the day. “I knew my team had my back and when you know they have your back, you feel more free.
“I just tried to be a spark like Coach says.”
Roni Harrison followed Fuentes’ homer with a solo blast and then leadoff hitter Moriah Polar — who was cramping severely in the game — cranked our her fourth big fly of the tournament for the third homer in a four-batter span for the team.
“She was celebrating with the kids in the dugout and I told her ‘That was just a big pop up, you’re lucky you are in Colorado,’” Jones said with a smile.
The Hotshots’ fourth-inning rally (which began after catcher Bella Perez worked a walk as the payoff for a 10-pitch at-bat) saw 13 hitters come to the plate against four Tampa Bay pitchers, the last of which was DaNia Brooks, whose father Derrick (an NFL Hall of Fame linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) is an assistant coach with the Mustangs.
Brooks would hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning, but that was all Tampa Bay registered in three innings against Abke, who had retired eight batters in a row before walking Moore ahead of Brooks’ home run, which capped a 3-for-3 day for her.
“Playing back-to-back-to-back-to-back games on the last day is hard,” said Jones, who got two hits apiece from Golden and Perez and two RBI from Whitlock in the clinching victory.
“It’s been a great tournament,” he added. “We lost our first game to Athletics Mercado — who we run-ruled last time we played — and we were down a couple of times, but these kids are just resilient. When we won that last game (vs. Firecrackers Brashear), I told them ‘You guys may not believe it, but I was standing in that coaches box with one out in the seventh inning and knew we were winning that game.’
“This team has character. They know they have time. As long as there is one more out left, they can come back.”
Added West: “We always somehow find a way to come through and win. That’s always our energy.”
by Kyle Koso
AURORA, Colo. — For a while, the offenses for the teams in the 18u Power Pool finale were strangely confined Sunday at Aurora Sports Park. But the breakout moment felt inevitable.
Sure enough, with both the Athletics Mercado-Smith and Texas Bombers Gold rosters packed with powerful bats and a slew of Division-I commits, claiming the high ground at the Colorado 4th of July event would require rising to the occasion at the plate. In the eighth inning, the Athletics came up with the best, final answer, wrapping up an 11-10 victory when courtesy runner Baylee Howley scored on a flyout, in foul territory, off the bat of Kanisha Anderson.
The teams combined for one run through three innings before the dam burst, with five lead changes making it impossible to predict the result.
“This game, really, almost came down to the coin flip at the beginning to see who would be the home team, with the bats in their hands last,” said Athletics coach David Mercado. “The Bombers are a quality team, so are we, and at the end of the day it’s two great teams going at it. Normally by now, people are tired, it’s been a long week, but to see that fight and scrap by both teams, you can’t ask for anything else.”
The Bombers took their first lead, 3-1 after the top of the fourth, and the Athletics certainly seemed motivated in the moment, getting home runs from Kaila Pollard (heading to Florida this fall), Jordan Woolery (UCLA) and Jasmyn Burns (Ohio State) to move ahead, 6-3. The Bombers had another answer with four runs in the fifth, forcing a pitching change and getting well-timed hits from Destiny Rodriguez (Tennessee), Aiyana Coleman (Texas A&M) and Maci Bergeron (LSU) along the way. That inning might have swayed the game, but Kaylee Oh (San Diego) reeled in a difficult catch for the Athletics in left field with two outs and the bases loaded to keep things close.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kaylynn Jones homered, Woolery scored on a wild pitch, and the Athletics were up, 8-7. The first four batters for the Bombers reached in the top of the seventh, and the wind began howling out straight to left field — Abigail Savoy (LSU) tied the game with a single, and Avery Hodge (Oklahoma) put the Bombers up, 9-8, with a groundout.
Would there be drama in the bottom of the seventh as the Athletics hoped to rally? Uh, not really, as Mya Perez blasted a home run on the first pitch to knot it at 9-all.
“I’ve been in a lot of situations like that before, so honestly, my job there is to get on base anyway I can,” Perez said. “My previous at-bats, I didn’t get on, and my teammates were picking me up, saying “Mya, it’s your time.’ I felt confident, and any pitch I saw that was right there, I’d put all my power into it, hit it hard.”
“That’s a special bat and a special right there — Mya knows how to barrel balls, and she doesn’t miss them very often,” Mercado said. “Once that happened, I didn’t have any doubts about winning, although I didn’t think we’d have to go another inning.”
Indeed, a surprising line-drive double play doused hopes for another run, and the game moved to extra innings. The Bombers got one run on a groundout from Reagan Jones (Texas A&M); the Athletics countered in the bottom of the eighth as Burns singled in Alyssa Hovermale (Florida) to tie it, again.
“In the (eighth) there, I try to stay confident, and I’m thinking, hit the first, best pitch that comes to me,” said Burns, who had three hits and four RBI in the game. “I thought that pitch was pretty good, maybe I was bit early, but I got enough contact to get it through. Your goal is to win every national championship that you’re in, and we got it done.”
Anderson got down to her final strike in her at-bat; she lifted a ball to left field, and with it drifting toward the fence, Howley was able to score without a play at the plate when the ball was caught.
Mercado highlighted the play of his three seniors, Woolery, Pollard and Lauryn Borzilleri (Kentucky). Hodge reached base three times and drove in two runs for the Bombers. Keely Williams (Texas A&M) reached base three times and scored twice; Rodriguez doubled and drove in two runs.
Westminster, Colo. – It was a Texas duel for the 2022 Colorado 4th of July 14u Power Pool Championship, featuring two clubs who put together three wins apiece on Sunday to reach the final. Texas Riptide 14u, coming off a walk-off comeback victory in the semifinals just 20 minutes prior, carried that momentum to defeat a familiar foe, Texas Glory 2K26 7-1 in five innings.
“(Texas) Glory actually came down to our facility for a camp, so we are very familiar with their team,” said Texas Riptide head coach Sam Campbell. "They have an excellent young team."
Early on, both squads carried their impressive offensive performances from the Power Pool semifinals into the championship game. In the first inning, Texas Glory 2K26 opened the scoring with a monster shot to left center by second baseman Hope Gaudio, but the Riptide responded with two runs to take an early 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning.
In the bottom half of the second, the Riptide added to their lead thanks to a bases loaded RBI single off the bat of leadoff hitter Khamari Hall. The speedster would swipe second base on the play, and later come around to score on an errant throw to third, capping off a four run inning en route to a 6-1 Riptide lead.
That marked the end of the day for Glory starting pitcher Hayden Mowrey, who was replaced by Avery Howerton in the circle after giving up six runs on eight hits over one and two-thirds innings.
Riptide starting pitcher Hunter Quentel showed poise throughout the game while escaping the occasional jam, allowing just the lone run in the first. The righty went the distance, throwing five innings while giving up six hits and tallying one strikeout.
“She is a 2027 but she is familiar with (Texas Glory 2K26),” said Campbell of his ace pitcher. “Hunter has been big for us all summer long and she will continue to win big games for us”.
Quentel was backed by outstanding defensive efforts behind her, highlighted by a frozen rope throw from centerfielder Alisa Sneed, beating the runner at home attempting to tag up from third on a sac fly.
Sneed, ranked No. 1 in Extra Inning Softball’s 2025 Extra Elite 100, also contributed at the plate, driving in three runs on the day. Briana Collazo and Hall both chipped in with multi-hit games.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, it was Avery Evanspickens who clinched the 14u Power Pool crown with a no-doubter over the right field fence sending the club out of Asascocita, Texas home with more hardware for their trophy case.
“Girls fought hard all week long and I am just so extremely proud of them,” said Campbell. “We enjoy Colorado… we will be back to defend it next year.”
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Fireworks could be heard going off in the distance, but it was the late-game fireworks from Impact Gold 2k9 National, which knocked off Hotshots National ’09, 2-1, in the 12u championship game of the Colorado 4th of July event that stole the show.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning and having not threatened to score all game, Torie Turner stepped up to the plate with two outs and a runner on second base for Impact Gold. Turner found the pitch she was looking for and laced a line drive into center field to score a run and tie up the game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Impact Gold found itself with runners on second and third with one out, giving them the perfect opportunity for the suicide squeeze bunt to score the game-winning run.
Playing under the lights after dealing with multiple lightning delays that pushed the championship game back, both pitchers put on a championship-worthy performance in a back-and-forth duel. In the top of the first inning, Impact Gold’s pitcher, Macie Bryant, quickly delivered a one-two-three inning, only for Hotshots’ pitcher, Kadyen Patin, delivered a one-two-three inning of her own.
It was just a sign of what was to come for the rest of the night.
Bryant pitched a complete-game no-hitter, walking just three batters and striking out 11, while Patin was equally nearly flawless, pitching the entire game and allowing four hits and four walks.
After cruising through the first two innings with ease, Bryant finally allowed a runner with a walk to Callia Carreon. Utilizing the rare opportunity to have a runner on base, Hotshots put pressure on Impact by sending Carreon to try and steal second base. The pressure worked as the throw to second base ended up getting through the infield and all the way to the outfield wall, allowing Carreon to get up and score, giving Hotshots a 1-0 lead despite not having a hit.
That’s where the game stood for a long stretch, as Bryant produced five one-two-three innings in the game and Patin held Impact Gold at bay until the sixth inning when Turner finally got the team on the board.
In the top of the seventh inning, Hotshots once again looked threatening, drawing a leadoff walk, and immediately advancing the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. The Hotshots then stole third base before drawing another walk, having runners on a first and second with just one out. Feeling the pressure, Bryant once again came through in the clutch, striking out the first batter to get two outs.
On the next batter, Bryant threw a pitch in the dirt and Hotshots tried to take advantage by sending the runner from third, but Impact Gold recovered quick enough and tagged the runner out at the plate to preserve the 1-1 tie and keep the momentum.
Bryant was dominant throughout the entire tournament, pitching 34.1 innings in the tournament and producing six wins and 60 strikeouts with a 0.82 ERA.