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.”