by Kyle Koso
For Savannah Guerin, the best response to the sight of opponents bleeding her pitch count was to perform some impressive surgery in the circle.
Guerin scattered five hits in seven innings of work for the Diamond Sports Hotshots-Nelson on Thursday in the 14u Power Pool TV Bracket, and her offense came through with two big innings in what became an 8-3 victory over Tennessee Mojo 2021 at the Aurora Sports Park. Madyson Manning (an Oklahoma commit) had a two-run double, and both Kasidi Pickering and Ashlyn Jones (Texas A&M) scored twice.
While the Hotshots scored five runs in the first inning to grab a lead, Guerin faced adversity in the second as two long pitch-after-pitch at-bats from Mojo's Emma Minghini (Penn State) and Claire Czajkowski put runners on first and second. They ultimately scored on a single from Jade Howard, but Guerin struck out the next two batters, showing she wouldn't be troubled by the rally.
"I was a little nervous, but I knew my offense had my back," said Guerin, who struck out seven batters and is also headed to Oklahoma. "I wasn't going to let anything bad happen. I was getting a little frustrated, and things like that can happen. I was excited, and deep down I knew we had it after we scored the early runs."
"That's what we see all the time, her ability to minimize trouble. You'll give up a walk or hit, but what she and the defense can do is get out of trouble," said Hotshots assistant coach Rick Vasquez. "Her changeup keeps the batters off balance all the time, and it's hard to get in a rhythm against her. It's a credit to her composure."
Manning's first-inning double was an impressive blast that bounced on the fly off the right-centerfield fence, and the Hotshots followed it up with RBI singles from Brooklyn Bockhaus and Kelsey Gaspard. The team had four runners reach in the third but went scoreless before bringing across three runs in the fourth.
"I'm thinking, just drive it. I have to score the two runners there," Manning said. "So I did it. I felt like we weren't hitting it in the gaps when we needed to there (in the third inning)."
In the fourth, Kennedy Powell (UCLA) reached on a bunt single, moved to third on a stolen base and error, then scored on a perfect bunt from Jones.
"Our offense over the last two months ... we've always been good at the short game and being able to execute at the top of the order," Vasquez added. "Now, we can surprise you at any time. We have power, we drive it in the alleys, and we have speed. Pressure on the defense has turned us into a very complete team; we knew we had the pitching and defense."
Mojo scored a run in the seventh; Lydia Coleman doubled with two outs and scored on a single from Sadie Saul (Arkansas).