By Adam Dunivan
WESTMINSTER, Colo -- 18U SoCal Athletics Jendro/Dempsey head coach Brian Wilson couldn't help but admire the resolve of his team Wednesday during the 18U Colorado Sparkler's second day of competition at Westminster's Tepper Fields.
Shortstop Mairady Dempsey confirmed Wilson's thoughts after the A's came from behind in both of their games, the second a thrilling 8-7 walk-off victory in which they trailed the TX CF Intruders Banzer 6-3 heading to the sixth inning.
"We always seem to (get behind), like first game today we were down 5-0, but we find away to slowly but surely come back and keep our energy up," Mairady Dempsey said. "If it wasn't for our energy, we'd be nothing. That does it for us."
Overall, Wednesday was the ultimate recovery for the A's after dropping both their games on Tuesday, and it made Pool E of the 18U Sparkler a little bit tighter after the Intruders initially were running away with things.
"I think the main thing is the girls have a little more confidence as we know get into a little heavier competition," Wilson said after watching his team score five runs over the final two innings to upset the Intruders. "But these are the fun ones -- the ones you win by one in 'overtime'. They're the ones that take years off my life, but they're the fun games to be part of."
This week, these SoCal A's are representing Arkansas and Missouri, along with a few California players playing with the team for this particular tournament. The bottom line, however, is they all came together to get some needed wins. After beating Colorado Altitude 11-8 in their first game on the day, Wilson said he knew his team was going to be challenged with the Intruders, who had scored 32 runs in the previous three games.
And it was a slugfest. The teams combined for 29 hits and Intruders batters didn't strike out the entire contest.
SoCal led the game 3-2 going to the fifth inning when it appeared the Intruders were going to salt away the game. They plated four runs to take a lead, getting big hits from Hannah Schnettler and Caroline Banzer as part of the rally. The Texas team followed it up with a clean run through the A's lineup in the bottom of the inning, and it was 6-3 heading to the bottom of the sixth before SoCal strung together some good hits.
Dempsey doubled and went to third on a wild pitch, and she scored off a single from Kasaya Christianson to make it 6-4. Then came Shalin Charles, whose towering two-run home run left no doubt about a suddenly tied game the second it came off the bat -- it was Charles' third hit.
"She's been on this weekend, that's her second home run" said Dempsey, who is still looking for her right college fit. "I hit the last one in, but she got the runs to tie it up before that so she was a big part of it all."
The Intruders came back with a run in the seventh as Kaitlyn Lara-Corn drove home Schnettler, but SoCal got the winning runs home on the combination of a Haley Nguyen double to the gap and a Dempsey infield single in which she beat out a bang-bang play at first base with Desiree Lara providing the winning run.
"That game could have went either way, but it was the hitting that came through for us," Wilson said. "It came down to one swing."
Both teams now wait for the brackets to be revealed for Friday play.