by Kyle Koso
AURORA, Colo. — Even a partial comeback can prove a team has backbone.
Thursday evening’s 16u Power Pool TV game for the Colorado 4th of July event saw the Lady Knights Black (Hawaii) jump on top of Virginia Unity with a four-run burst in the fourth inning. With only one hit to that point, the Unity might have wondered about their ability to respond in front of the big crowd at the Aurora Sports Park.
But right away, they answered with three runs, leaving work to do but with a sense that the roster had the pieces to do some damage. With two runs in the fifth, one the sixth and a door-slamming effort from reliever Addi Linton, the Unity capped their rally and posted a 6-4 victory.
The first four batters for the Unity in the fourth reached base; Destiny Harris got the scoring started with an RBI single, Jayden Heavener plated one with a single and Esther White drove one in with a sacrifice fly. Linton, who ended the Knights’ push in the fourth with a strikeout, returned to the circle and scattered three hits and a walk the rest of the way, adding three strikeouts.
“Our coaches told us all the pitchers needed to be ready; when my name was called, I had to go in and do my job,” Linton said. “It’s the best feeling to be out there, having your teammates behind you. We talked in the dugout about needing to keep the ball on the ground (when hitting) because of the wind, and we worked hard on that.”
“That kid is a great competitor, and she wants the ball in big situations,” said Unity co-coach Josh Johnson. “What a huge win for her.”
And actually, Linton did just fine at bat getting a ball up in the air — in the fifth, her sky-high fly ball twisted the Knights fielders before it landed, and the spin took it clear to the fence by the third-base dugout for a double. Brinli Bain drove her in with a sacrifice fly to tie it, 4-all.
The next batter, McCall Sims, followed with arguably the clutch hit of the day, a two-out single that brought in Frankie Vrazel to give the Unity the lead.
“The wind was in our favor; I was just telling myself, hit a ground ball up the middle,” Sims said. “I wasn’t that nervous; I felt confident. We all trust Addi, and she’s fun to make plays behind. If we play how we know how to play, we can win any game. We had that confidence.”
“We got punched in the face and had to get back at it,” Johnson added. “It was a little worrisome, but once you get that first run, it feels different and changes the mindset in the dugout. McCall has been there with big hits all year, and there’s a reason she’s hitting third in our lineup. She’s a great basketball player, but really good at softball, too.”
The final run for the Unity came in the sixth, when White reached on an error and was doubled in by Rylie Johnson.
For the Knights, Taryn Ho hit a two-run home run in the fourth.