Offense had come easy for the Georgia Impact National Team – Lewis, outscoring their opponents 93-19 in the first seven games of the Colorado Fireworks. So, when the team found themselves trailing to the Louisiana Gold 7-2 in the sixth inning of the 18U Elite championship game, players, coaches and fans were scratching their heads wondering what was going on.
“We didn’t do what we wanted to through the first five innings,” said head coach Logan Foulks. “I finally took myself out of the dugout and said it was up to them. This is the kind of team they are; they just keep fighting.”
Fighting is exactly what they did.
The Impact would score six runs in the bottom of the sixth to take an 8-7 lead and would hold on to win the 18U Elite championship.
“I am so proud of this team,” said Foulks. “When you are not getting the offensive production you are used to in innings one through five, it is easy to get discouraged. Instead, they stood up as a team and found a way to make it happen.”
The offensive explosion in the sixth was kickstarted by Janelle Mathis, a 2018 grad committed to Eastern Illinois. Mathis led off with a double and teammate Ashlynn Gunter followed up with an RBI double, knocking in Mathis. The onslaught would continue as Georgia State commit Olivia Davis recorded the third consecutive double of the inning for the Impact, and an RBI single by Bailee Zeitler would knock in Davis and Gunter cutting the Bomber lead to 7-5.
Future Georgia Southern outfielder Hannah Scarbrough would knock in Zeitler on a single, and the fourth double of the inning by Faith Shirley would score Scarbrough, knotting the game up at 7-7. A sacrifice fly by Lou Bowers brought home Shirley for what would be the winning run.
The Bombers jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning and held the Impact scoreless through the first two. A two-run homer by Shirley would finally get the Impact on the board in the bottom of the third, cutting the deficit to 3-2. The Impact would load the bases with one out in the fourth inning, but could not capitalize.
“It felt amazing to hit that home run,” said Shirley. “I was just trying to make good contact with the ball and that’s exactly what I did.”
The Bombers would tack on one more run in the fourth, two in the fifth and another in the sixth giving them what was thought a comfortable lead at 7-2 going into the bottom of the sixth.
“We were a little down heading into the bottom of the sixth,” said Shirley. “But we got into a huddle as a team and told each other to pick it up and make something happen. As soon as we got people on base it became clear that we had a chance to win this.”
The Impact finished the tournament 8-1 and are headed back home tonight before leaving for Chicago on Tuesday to play in an event at Notre Dame, followed by the Demarini Invitational.