You can be defined by your mistakes, or you can definitely do something about them.
For the Lady Stros Elite-Jones 12u softball team, which is in its first year on the diamond and even has a player who qualifies for 10u, the bumps are inevitable when it comes to playing a demanding game at full speed. But even after a spell of three consecutive errors, the Lady Stros kept on looking for solutions and found enough to post a 7-6 victory over the Palatine Stingrays on Friday at Barnes Complex in Loveland.
That victory keeps the team in the mix in the top half of the 12u bracket at Triple Crown’s Sparkler Juniors event. They’ll face Athletics Mercado 2020 on Saturday, after the Athletics came back from a 5-2 deficit in the last inning to top EC Bullets-Mayfield, 6-5.
Anna Poss doubled to lead off the top of the fifth for the Stingrays, and wth two outs Kayln McCarthy singled her home to tie the game at 6-all. In the bottom of the fifth Paris Kimble reached on an error for the Lady Stros — pinch runner Jerrica Keener stole second, moved to third on a groundout and came across for the winning run on a hit from Angie Morales.
“I was thinking, we got this, we’ll come back. I know my team, and we usually come back when we are down,” Morales said about her mental approach before the final swing of the game. “I had faith, and I knew I had this.”
“I tell my girls all the time, mistakes are part of the game. When you make them, learn to forget about them and move on,” said Last Stros coach Steve Jones. “If you don’t make mistakes, you can’t get better. I tell them, come out and play ball, and whatever happens, happens. It’s about the process.”
Aryana Cruz reached base three times and scored three runs for the Lady Stood; pitcher Gigi Solis had a double and two RBI, and Mackenzie Lachiusa added two RBI. Solis worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the third without giving up a run, and a huge play came from the hustle in left fired of Karyinton Dawson, who made a diving catch to end the fourth inning and save two runs.
“I try to get on base and get in the other runners in ahead of me. My heart started going fast (when Palatine tied the game), but that makes me want to try harder,” Cruz said. “So I tried harder. And we won. Our coaches teach us to work and get better than we were before.”
Allie Goodwin had two hits and two RBI for the Stingrays.
Defense wasn’t missed on 12u American Pastime Velasquez.
Actually, for a majority of contest between Pastime and the Mizuno Storm Friday evening, defense was the name of the game for the two Triple Crown Sparkler Junior challengers. It wasn’t until Pastime broke the game wide open in the final two innings to claim victory, 9-1.
“We’re a little beat up right now,” said head coach Ruben Velasquez. “We’ve been able to wear people down right about that fifth or sixth inning, and that’s when we’ve been able to take advantage.”
It seemed like neither team was going to blink in the early going. In fact, through the first two and one half innings, both teams didn’t surrender a hit. Keely Townsend was the first to break into the hit column with a lead-off single, but even then, the Storm were able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Starting pitcher Paige Cowley kept up her end of the bargain. Through the first four innings, Cowley allowed just one hit and gave up only two free passes.
“Paige is hot right now,” said Velasquez. “She’s just been down right incredible to start this tournament. We try to rest her when we can, but her performances have been absolutely stellar.”
Cowley’s only blemish came in the fifth inning when the Storm tallied its only extra base hit on the evening. Faced with her first bout of adversity, Cowley responded with three strikeouts to end the inning and keep the game at arms length.
“My fastball was really working for me out there,” said Cowley. “When I could get ahead in counts, I was able to change up my speeds and was able to keep them guessing.”
Down a run and with Cowley spinning it in the circle, American Pastime wasted no time to respond. A lead-off walk turned into the first run for the home side, tying the game at one.
An inning later, three consecutive base hits from Payton Angelini, Lauryn Ureno and Carly Ruiz plated two more runs and all of the sudden Pastime had a 3-1 advantage with just two innings to play.
“We have been preaching all year about what it would take to win a tournament like this,” said Velasquez. “It’s a testament to these girls in staying focused. They’re prepared to win.”
In the top half of the sixth inning, Cowley seemed unflappable. Two straight strikeouts, followed by her own putout ended the frame before the blink of an eye. On the evening, Cowley finished with eight strikeouts, four of them looking.
As the sun crept behind the Rocky Mountains to the west, the shadows engulfed the field, allowing the Pastime offense a better crack at Mizuno’s pitching in the sixth inning.
What started with a lead-off hit from Adriana Velasquez, turned in to an avalanche of runs for American Pastime. The Storm could only notch two outs before Pastime collected six hits, a sacrifice fly from Emily Capobianco, two walks and six total runs to force the run-rule, 9-1.
“I think a win like this really shows that we can win any type of ballgame,” said Cowley. “If we’re down, tied or even ahead, I think this team has total confidence in ourselves to go out there and get the job done.”
For Cowley, the direct granddaughter of American Pastime’s founding member, her performance in the Sparkler Juniors is a little sweeter than most.
“To play in the same tournaments that my all of my family members have is truly an honor,” said Cowley.”I know for us to play for championships is what my grandfather had in mind.”
Cowley and American Pastime will continue its road to the championship as they continue in the Sparkler Junior 12u Bracket. Pastime’s next challenger will be the Texas Bombers Saturday at 2 p.m.
There was little doubt from the start.
The 12U Texas Bombers-LS pieced together a complete game Friday night and earned a convincing 9-0 win over the Colorado Psyclones 12U Valor at Barnes Complex in Loveland at the Sparkler Juniors softball event.
The Bombers received lights-out pitching to go along with air-tight defense and a number of timely hits. With all facets of the game working in sync, the outcome was unquestionably favorable for the team from Texas.
“Our biggest focus was that we stayed fundamentally sound defensively,” coach Joe Torres said. “We’re swinging the bat well and seeing the right pitches and getting good at-bats. Obviously, our pitching did a fantastic job.”
The Bombers wasted little time in getting the ball rolling. Starting pitcher Arabella Garcia sailed through the first two innings without giving up a run.
After a scoreless first inning, the offense came alive in the second, plating four runs in the inning to jump out to a 4-0 lead. Madison Azua knocked in Victoria Altamirano on a single to jumpstart the inning.
Next, the Bombers loaded the bases with two consecutive well-placed bunt singles before Isabella Torres hit a chopper over the second basemen to score two more. Alysandra Calixto concluded the scoring in the second with a perfect sacrifice fly to left.
The Psyclones threatened in the top of the third inning, loading the bases with two outs after two straight walks. But Garcia got a huge strikeout to escape the danger and preserve the shutout. Azua added another RBI knock in the bottom half of the third to extend the Bomber lead to 5-0.
“Everything was going well,” Garcia said of the game. “It really helped the whole team is having fun. We’re all hyped up and we came into this game confident.”
Following another scoreless inning in the fourth –this time from pitcher Alexis Nava – the Bombers came through with runners on base yet again in their half of the fourth. Calixto added another RBI on a double before Dylan Lewis brought her around with a hit of her own.
The game was soon called due to the time limit after the Bombers scored two more runs to take a 9-0 lead.
It seemed like the Bombers were getting contributions from up-and-down the lineup. Everyone was reaching base and executing what needed to be done.
“It’s exciting to see,” Torres said. “We work hard on situational hitting so it’s exciting to see them execute those plays. It was good pieces of hitting. Today was a good day.”
The win advances the Bombers to the next round of the 12U Championship A bracket of the Colorado Sparkler Junior tournament. They will play another game Saturday at 2 p.m., with a potential championship game looming later in the evening. They’ve had a great tournament thus far, running the table at 4-0 in pool play and have now won their first two bracket games.
There’s still games to play and work left to be done. But confidence and excitement for what’s next are certainly high.
“I think it really gives a lot of confidence,” Garcia said. “We’re all pumped up for tomorrow so we’re just going to go in there strong.”
Finesse Fastpitch rolls to 11-1 win
From getting dirty to batting around the order, the Finesse Fastpitch had everything rolling in an 11-1 win over Mercado Athletics in the Colorado Fireworks 16U Supplemental Pool.
Kathry Rex got things moving early for the Finesse with a two-run homerun in the first inning. Rex stepped to the plate two batters after Carley Barjaktarovick walked and sent the ball deep past the left field fence to give her team a 2-0 lead early.
In the circle for the Finesse was Gabi Salo — the team’s youngest member being from the class of 2020 — who threw a solid four innings of work, allowing four hits and one earned run. Salo was relieved to start the fifth by Emily Koperdak, who threw two scoreless innings allowing one hit.
“(Our pitchers) had their in-and-out curve ball, screw ball moving real well today,” Dan Bressler, Finesse head coach said. “We just kept that going and the changeup from our first pitcher was just outstanding. And they kept guessing on it so we were getting on the hands a lot so we got easy ground balls or popups.”
The defense behind the two pitchers did their part too, turning a double play off a bunt attempt in the second inning as the Athletics’ Berkeley Quinn overran second base and was tagged trying to dive back. Outfielder Jaiden Batyik made a diving catch in left field to save what would have been a double in the sixth.
“All day my defense has been making great plays,” Koperak said. “I knew I could trust them even if I missed a spot or anything but I was feeling loose and comfortable with everything.”
“It gives the coaches a lot of confidence,” Bressler added about the Finesse’s defensive performance. “But that was an outstanding play by Jaiden out in left field. And the shortstop (Carley Barjaktarovick) is so fast, she can cover so much ground … but they all got good jumps on the ball. I think they played really loose today. Yesterday we were a little tight, we won and lost, and in the last inning they totally just stayed loose today and did what they normally do.”
The Finesse got loose in the sixth inning when they piled on seven runs to extend their lead to 11-1. Starting from the five hitter the Finesse worked through the order, capitalizing off a few dropped balls by the Athletics, scoring seven runs off of five singles and a double. Six consecutive batters found their way around the bases in the inning.
“I thought they did a great job being patient at the plate,” Bressler said. “They dropped a few but they weren’t easy to get to, kind of on the run type catches and we did a great job of taking the extra base when we could.”
“It pumps everybody up,” Koperdak added about her team batting around the order in the sixth. “One person gets a hit, it’s kind of like an adrenaline rush for everybody. It just keeps the bats going because hitting is contagious.”
The Finesse turned 14 hits into 11 runs in the game while allowing just five hits and the lone run to walk away with the 11-1 win over Mercado Athletics.
“Our pitchers did a really good job of keeping people off the bases,” Aleak Marra, Finesse third baseman said. “And we worked really good today as a team to get on base and to bring the people in.”
Arizona Hotshots come on late to top Wheatland Spikes in Colorado Fireworks 16U Supplemental Pool
A pitchers duel turned into a small-ball clinic put on by the Arizona Hotshots.
With a 3-2 lead heading into the seventh inning, the Hotshots utilized crafty base running and hitting to cap off a 7-2 win over the Wheatland Spikes in the Colorado Fireworks 16U Supplemental Pool.
“You know we were asleep at the wheel I think the first couple of innings there,” Brian Georges, Arizona Hotshots head coach said on his team’s offensive performance. “We had to play a lot of small-ball just to get our girls woken up and energized.”
The small-ball mindset was picked up after the fourth inning, where the Hotshots found themselves with the bases loaded and no outs. Nicole Shano had a clear path to home plate but elected not to slide and was beat out by a throw from left field. The Hotshots did manage to plate one run in the inning to tie the game, 2-2.
In the circle for the Hotshots was right-handed Bailey Tanner, who replaced starter McKenna Leamon after she left with a hip injury through two innings. Tanner was dominant from the circle, throwing five innings while allowing one run and no walks.
“That’s Bailey, Bailey’s awesome,” Georges said. “McKenna came out with a hip issue, we wanted to keep McKenna in the game, but her hip was really bothering her. Bailey is our number one, a clear number one for us. The girl just hits every spot that you need her to hit and she just dominated the strike zone.”
Tanner was able to work through the lineup with few hiccups, despite differences in finding the strike zone.
“I saw early on that the umpire’s strike zone was a little bit small, and he wasn’t calling low,” Tanner said. “So I avoided that as much as I could, but I didn’t change anything for the umpire’s strike zone. I kept throwing the low ones, but when I got into certain counts I just wouldn’t resort to those, which I usually would.”
From the offensive side, the Hotshots had to respond to seeing five called strike threes, something their coach would have preferred to avoid.
“The zone was a tough one to navigate,” Georges said. “But still, I really felt like our girls should have had a better understanding of what the zone was and shouldn’t have been taking as many strikes as they did.”
After hitting a home run in the first inning, Sydny Taylor gave the Hotshots the lead for good in the fifth inning with a RBI single that bounced over the Spike’s second baseman and into right field. Taylor finished the game 3-4 with two RBI.
“I saw it all in slow motion and then it was right down the middle,” Taylor said of her home run ball. “As soon as I hit it I didn’t even feel it.”
The Hotshots had no problems getting on base, as they had 18 hits in the game, but struggled to bring them home leaving 10 runners on base. The seventh inning saw Georges use a different strategy to try to plate the runs.
Both Ariana Pena and Kathleen Georges came in to pinch run in the seventh for Brooke Piazza and Nicole Shano, respectively. The two speedsters stole their way to third and second base and on consecutive infield ground balls beat the throw home to break the game open in the final frame.
The offense took a while to get going for the Hotshots, but Tanner kept the Spikes off the board and the offense adjusted enough to pull out a 7-2 win. Coach Georges felt the team may have gotten lucky to pull the game out, and expects better play moving forward.
“We were fortunate to come out with a win in this game,” Georges said. “We didn’t play our best ball at all.”
It all seemed to come together on Thursday morning for the Kansas Renegades.
The Renegades 16U Gold were clicking in all aspects of the game while on their way to a 13-2 win in five innings over the Washington Angels in the 16U Supplemental Power Pool at the Christopher Complex in Westminster.
The squad from Kansas (Wichita) had experienced an “iffy” first two of games of the Colorado Sparkler tournament, they said.
There was nothing iffy about the way they played against the Angels. The Renegades executed with runners in scoring position, turned several double plays defensively and received solid outings in the circle from pitchers Carley Sterneker and Maria Frank.
“I think we were all really in-sync,” Frank said. “We were all on the same page as far as playing clean and hitting the ball hard.”
They wasted no time getting the ball rolling offensively. The Renegades loaded the bases in the first inning before plating a run. In the second, the Angels’ Baylei Ozuna got the away team on the board with a deep home run.
The Renegades then started to find their groove in their half of the second inng. Hannah Burnett bunted with a runner on to trigger a wild sequence of events. After reaching first base safely, Burnett got into a run-down between first and second. Meanwhile, Sterneker was able to take advantage of the commotion and score from third.
Olivia Steinert hit a blooper into no-man’s land beyond the pitcher’s circle to score another run before Isabel Marcotte launched a bomb to left-center to give the Renegades a sizable five-run lead.
“It all worked. It’s fun to watch them get it,” coach Kevin Steinert said. “It makes my job easy. The less I have to do, the better off we are. They just took care of their business and played outstanding. This last game may have been the best game we played.”
The Renegades were far from done, however. They executed with runners in scoring position near flawlessly in the third. A well-executed squeeze play by Olivia Eubank scored a run and then a Burnett infield single added another as the Renegades tacked on four more runs.
Steinert mentioned his team had plenty of speed, which was on full-display throughout the contest as they stole bases and continually put pressure on the Angels’ defense.
“You look at our team and we have some girls who can hit, but all these girls can run,” he said. “We have to play to what we do well and we have kids who can just flat run. It’s tough to defend that. And it’s fun to watch, it really is fun to watch them run around like that.”
The Renegades added three more runs in the fourth inning to bring the 10-run mercy rule into play. On top of that, Frank held the Angels scoreless the final two innings.
Earlier in the morning, the Renegades picked up a 10-2 win. That game, combined with their performance in the win over the Angels can only do good things for their confidence moving forward in the tournament.
“It’s definitely a confidence-booster knowing we can come out here and compete and be successful,” Frank said.
The Tampa Mustangs-TJ faced an awfully familiar opponent in Thursday night’s 14U Power Pool championship game of the Colorado Fireworks tournament at Aurora Sports Park.
The opponent was not only from their native city of Tampa, Florida, they were from the same program. The Mustangs-TJ beat the Tampa Mustangs-Hennigar 8-5 to claim the title.
Afterward, Mustangs-TJ coach TJ Goelz said the two teams –although acquainted with each other – do not play each other often.
“It was a treat and an honor,” Goelz said. “We don’t play each other that much as strange as it sounds. It’s been awhile since we’ve played them. The coaches there are doing a phenomenal job and really bringing that team along. There’s so much talent there. Either way a Mustang team was going to win the championship.”
Jenna Lord stole the show for the Mustangs-TJ. The right fielder had no trouble finding the sweet spot of the bat. Lord launched three home runs in the game, including a three-run shot in the bottom of the first that propelled Mustangs-TJ to a 4-1 lead.
She followed that up with a go-ahead solo shot in the third that gave the Mustangs-TJ the lead once-and-for-all at 6-5. For her encore act, Lord added a two-out, solo homer in the sixth to give Mustangs-TJ an additional insurance run and push their lead to 8-5.
“The first game that we had today out of three, I went 0-3,” Lord said. “I just wasn’t seeing the ball well and I told myself to make an adjustment and see the ball down, not up. I made my adjustment the second and third game.”
The Mustangs-Hennigar struck first in the top of the first with a home run by Krystina Hartley before Mustangs-TJ erupted with their four-spot in the bottom half of the inning. Mustangs-Hennigar worked their way back on a two-run home run from Katie Bright that made it 4-3.
After another run by Mustangs-TJ that pushed the score back to 5-3, Bright came through again with a game-tying two-run double in the top of the third that knotted it at five.
Lord then mashed the go-ahead bomb in the bottom half of the third and Mustangs-TJ pushed across another run in the fourth on an infield single.
Through six games of this tournament, Mustangs-TJ certainly did a lot of positive things while en route to the championship. But, it was the resolve, resiliency, and explosiveness that impressed their coach the most.
“This team has firepower and we’re never going to be out of the fight,” Goelz said. “That’s our tagline this year is ‘You’re never out of the fight.’ We know that even if we give up a few home runs or things happen, we can put four, five or six runs on the board like that. We can do it with one out, two outs, it doesn’t matter. What I saw out of my team the last six games since we’ve been here is just firepower and just that they know they can do it at any given point.”
Lord said she know a couple players from the Mustangs-Hennigar and even that they’ll be attending the same high school in the near future. And that, she said, made the experience even more enjoyable.
The Mustangs-TJ came a long way to Colorado to win a championship. Surely, the plane ride back to Florida will be full of smiles.
“It feels great and it feels great just to know all these girls have my back,” Lord said. “We can swing the bat whenever we need to or whenever we’re in pressure situations. Just knowing my team always has my back even if I don’t get on is one of the greatest
In a surprising moment or two of unsteady play, the 16u Athletics Mercado fastpitch threatened to allow the Tennessee Fury Platinum to break through and break open their game Thursday at the Aurora Sports Park.
That’s just not the Athletics’ style, however, especially in a matchup as big as this one, the 16 Power Pool TV contest on ESPN3 at Triple Crown Sports’ Colorado Fireworks event. And after escaping first inning damage from two infield errors, the Athletics maintained their lead and added some key insurance runs late in what became a 7-4 victory.
This title is yet another accomplishment for the Mercado roster, which dominated in events around the country as a 14u squad. On Thursday, they built an early lead using the basics – run-scoring groundouts – and eventually started playing terrific defense. Tough catches against the outfield fence, and throwing out runners trying to take an extra base, all played a role.
“It’s a little uncharacteristic of us to struggle; our defense is definitely our strong point. In this game, it happens, and we try not to dwell on it and figure out a way to move on,” said Athletics head coach David Mercado.
After nursing a 5-2 lead for several innings, the Athletics were jolted by a two-run homer from the Fury’s Kalei Harding in the sixth inning. But in the top of the seventh, the Athletics secured the result with a leadoff single from Quincee Lilio, a double from Lexi Sosa (who had given up Harding’s blast), a run-scoring single from Kinzie Hansen and a sacrifice fly by Paige Smith.
Sosa, a UCLA signee and the fourth pitcher to throw for the Athletics, then retired the Fury in order in the bottom of the seventh.
“My job there is to get on base; it doesn’t matter how,” said Lilio, a University of Oklahoma signee who had three hits and scored twice. “Just had to get runs for my team. Being a part of this organization is amazing – the chemistry is so tight, and we have a lot of fun.”
Hansen’s hit was a true work of art under pressure, as she fell behind in the count and concentrated on putting the ball in play, which she did with an opposite-field hit.
“I went up to the plate looking inside, because that’s how they pitched me the last at-bat with the new pitcher. I cheated a bit and stepped back, but she threw it outside,” said Hansen, who is heading to Oklahoma as well. “I got down 0-2, threw my hands at it and just tried to get one home, because that’s what we needed. With two strikes, you’ve got to try and stay calm, but still be aggressive.”
“These girls work hard and earn everything they get,” Mercado added. “Winning is just what comes along with that.”
Alia Logoleo had two hits, an RBI and a run for the Fury. Kyah Keller-Smith had a hit, run and RBI.