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.