By Michael Roley
Several of the rides at Elitch Gardens Theme Park may not have as many twists and turns as Wednesday afternoon’s matchup between the St. Louis Chaos 16U team and the Wasco Diamonds 16U squad.
The game was a roller coaster of action, featuring four ties and three lead changes and little idea of who would come out on top as play entered the bottom of the sixth inning.
But ultimately, it was the Chaos who emerged with a 13-8 victory at Waddell Park thanks to timely hitting in a five-run sixth inning that ended up proving to be the difference.
“It was actually really exciting,” Chaos third basemen Laney Credeur said. “It made me love softball even more. When we were down, it gave us more energy and then when we were up, it gave us even more energy.”
To say Credeur had a productive day would be an understatement. The rising sophomore finished the game with five runs batted in, including a bases clearing triple in the sixth that blew the game open and put the Chaos in the driver’s seat. To top things off, Credeur hit a walk-off grand slam to secure a 10-run blowout in the Chaos’ first game of the day, a 13-3 win.
After a back-and-forth and tense few innings that saw the Chaos fall behind by as many as four runs, they began their rally in the fifth. Trailing 7-3, the Chaos loaded the bases with one out. Then Credeur hit a two-run double to bring the score within two at 7-5. In the next at bat, Sydney Melton hit the game-tying double to even things at seven.
Hanna Johanning kept the rally alive by driving in Melton to cap a five-run frame and put the Chaos ahead by one. But, in the top half of the sixth, the Diamonds put traffic on the base paths before pushing across the tying run on a play in which the Chaos turned a double play.
Then in the bottom half of the sixth, the Chaos once again loaded the bases and pinch hitter Lindsay McCarthy hit the go-ahead single to make the score 9-8. That set the stage for Credeur and her game-changing triple.
“I was really excited and I was out of breath,” Credeur joked. “I was just glad I could do that for my team.”
In a game where the emotions changed like the wind, it’s important to maintain an even-keel, something the Chaos executed well prior to their rally. And Chaos head coach Amanda Mohan said that mindset was primarily player-driven.
“They do a lot of it on their own,” Mohan said. “The main thing is they are staying in the moment. They’re not trying to do too much. They’re not trying to think about the next play. They’re thinking about that play at that time.”
Another area where the Chaos shined was in their baserunning. Mohan mentioned how they possess an ample amount of team speed. And they put that speed to good use Wednesday. Lead-off hitter Abigail Chipps beat out an infield single in the Chaos’ first at-bat of the game, then proceeded to steal second and third before scoring on a Diamonds overthrow from the pitcher.
Throughout the game, the Chaos stole several more bases and their sixth-inning rally was jumpstarted in part thanks to a bunt single from Abby Frankenreiter and another infield single from Chipps.
“The old saying ‘Speed kills.’ Pretty much our entire roster is quick and that puts pressure on the defense and makes them make mistakes,” Mohan said. “That allows us to take extra bases. I think the team today, they kind of weren’t paying attention a couple times and we were able to take the extra bag. It was really good we executed on that without me having to tell them. Because once I tell them, it’s too late.”
After the win, when the team was breaking its huddle following a chat with their coach, and a player audibly declared for those within ear shot “Can’t every game be like this!”
Credeur, who was jokingly fielding autograph requests from a few teammates in the dugout afterward agreed whole heartedly with that statement.
“It was just really exciting,” she said. “We all worked as a team to finish this game out.”