By Michael Roley
There wasn’t anything flashy about it.
And there didn’t need to be.
The East Coast Firecrackers (New Hampshire) ground its way to a hard-fought 5-3 win over the California Firecrackers-Humble in a matchup of two teams who sported the same team name but hailed from two different ends of the country.
“It was gritty,” head coach Tori Constantin said. “We’ve been playing a lot and this game was later in the day for us. But we’re finding ways to get it done. Our bats are progressively getting better. It was a good team win.”
It was a game where both starting pitchers, Madie Fornwalt of East Coast and Terra Goetz of the California team were largely in control. East Coast struck first with an RBI double from Fornwalt. But the California Firecrackers came right back in the fourth with two runs of its own on a two-run base hit by Alexis Clancy. Both team’s defenses were steady behind the pitchers. And this made for an efficient contest in a game that began nearly an hour later than it was scheduled.
“That game kind of felt different,” said Fornwalt, who is committed to play at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. “Plays were routine and a lot of them seemed effortless.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the East Coast Firecrackers were able to put traffic on the bases. Fornwalt continued her big game with a two-run double to bring her RBI total to three for the game. This hit also put East Coast ahead 3-2, a lead that would prove to be insurmountable.
The scoring in the inning wasn’t finished, however. Hannah French followed Fornwalt with a double of her own that plated two more runs and extended the East Coast lead to 5-2.
Both teams played a quiet sixth inning before things got intriguing in the top of the seventh. Clancy came up to the plate to lead off the inning. After a tough at-bat that featured multiple foul balls with two strikes, Clancy found a pitch she liked and blasted it over the fence in right-center field. All of a sudden, the score was 5-3 and momentum began to shift slightly to the California Firecrackers’ side.
After inducing a flyout to left field, Lily Gallardo hit a rocket through shortstop and reached second on an errant throwback to first. The tying run came to the plate for the California Firecrackers. The tension at Waddell Park grew slightly. But not for long. Fornwalt struck out the next batter and then got the next one to ground out to shortstop to end the game.
“It’s really stressful and I was a little tired so it’s kind of extra too,” Fornwalt said. “I enjoy it. It’s nice and it’s fun."
The East Coast Firecrackers advanced to play another game in Mount Elbert B Bracket play. There wasn’t much rest for them either as they were slated to take on Lady Stros Gold Morgan in a game immediately after their win over the California Firecrackers.
They began the day with a 10-3 win over Newtown Rock Gold-Baker. On the tournament, they are 5-1 in the 18U Sparkler. And nonetheless, after traveling roughly 2,000 miles, they are enjoying their experience in Colorado.
“It’s awesome. This is the softball element,” Constantin said. “I’m glad we could come out here and experience this.”