By Michael Roley
AURORA, Colo – It may seem counterintuitive to the intense nature of sports. And maybe even more so in a competitive and intense tournament like the Colorado Fireworks.
But sometimes, it just helps to take a deep breath and relax.
This was one approach at the plate for the Wheatland Spikes 16U during their Box Bracket B game Tuesday afternoon against Aces Express 16U Prospects.
And did it ever work.
The Spikes left little doubt as they slugged their way to a 15-1 win at Olympic Park. They hit two long home runs and sent a number of hard-hit balls into gaps and to the fence. By the end of the third inning, the Spikes had a commanding 7-1 lead.
“The best thing is to just relax,” said Abby Kammeyer, who ripped an RBI double off the fence in the top of the fourth. “And just get out of your own head.”
Of course, this is much easier said than done. And there’s no one-size-fits-all method to settle in comfortably at the plate. But as the Spikes mentioned afterward, being patient is usually a step in the right direction. After all, when you’re more relaxed at the dish, it seems like you’d be more prone to wait for the right pitch.
“I have a plan up there and first pitch, if its not where I want it then I’m not going to swing at it,” Carly Engelhardt said, who launched a three-run home run in the top of the third.
The Spikes went down in order to start the game and then the Aces took an early 1-0 lead in their half of the first. That would be the only run of the afternoon as starting pitcher Adyson Slayback kept the Aces’ bats in check throughout the game.
In some ways, it was a crescendo offensively for the Spikes. They got three runs in the second courtesy of a Gab Drager RBI double to put the Spikes on the board. A well-executed sacrifice fly by Morgan Rau rounded out the scoring and the Spiked led 3-1.
The crescendo ramped up in the third with Engelhardt’s three-run blast. A few batters later Lauren Luna hit a solo bomb of her own to left field and the Spikes were in control with a 7-1 lead.
Finally, in the bottom of the fifth, the Spikes plated seven runs. Luna hit a two-run single to bring her RBI total to three for the game. Rau also knocked in two more runs with a hard single to left. They even scored when Megan Adamek was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Teaghen Amwoza rounded out the scoring with another double off the fence in the fifth that brought the score to 15-1. The Spikes retired the Aces in order in the bottom half of the fifth to end the game.
Combine the offensive outburst with a stellar pitching performance and efficient defense, and it was a complete effort from the Spikes.
“They bounced back from our last game where we didn’t hit too well and left a lot of runners on base,” head coach Russ Rau said. “They hit well with runners in scoring position. And then our pitching, they got a run in the first inning and then our pitching locked it down for the next four innings and didn’t give them anything.”
On the weekend, the Spikes are now 3-0-1 with a 2-2 yesterday being the only non-win. This offensive showcase was a step in the right direction for achieving what the Spikes want to do at the Fireworks.
“We went to advance deep and get the girls exposure to the coaches around,” assistant coach Bobby Drager said. “Now it’s bracket and survive and advance. The goal is to get to Sunday. That’s a good way to end the day with tomorrow off. It’s something good to think about tomorrow before coming back Friday ready to work.”