By Thomas Hoffman
The long, arduous road to the 14u Power Pool Championship at the 2018 Sparkler Juniors began Tuesday at Nelson Farm Park. For SoCal Athletics-Limo, the key to the week and to Tuesday morning’s pool play games was patience. After an opening, 12-5 victory over the St. Louis Chaos, the Athletics rode its momentum to a 13-7 win over the NW Batbusters.
“We were definitely sluggish to start off today,” said head coach Michael Limosnero. “That can happen in a tournament like this, but I was happy with the way the team rebounded, made adjustments and had each other’s backs.”
Before SoCal even got a chance to bat in the bottom of the first inning, they trailed 3-0 thanks to a pair of RBI singles from Grace DeSota and the Batbusters’ pitcher Katie Fodge. It wasn’t until the bottom of the third inning when the Athletics had a chance to cut into the lead.
“I think we were able to wear (Fodge) down a little,” explained Jessica Kim. “By the time I got to the plate, I was simply looking to capitalize on something down the middle.”
Kim was gifted just the pitch she was looking for. With Ashley Corpuz already on first, Kim rocketed a ball over the left field fence, bringing SoCal within one, 3-2.
“After (Jessica’s) home run, we could sense the momentum turning in our favor,” said Emma Haygood, who delivered a single, double and two RBI as part of an eight-run bottom of the fourth inning that propelled the Athletics in front, 10-3.
“That’s a great characteristic of this team,” said Limosnero. “They always stay positive, believe in themselves and believe in each other.”
The Batbusters weren’t about to go away quietly, however. Anna Lucas showcased her dynamic speed to kick-start the top of the fifth inning, reaching on a bunt and coming around to score thanks to two stolen bases and a passed ball. In total, the Northwest natives conjured together four runs, shrinking the gap, 10-7.
Undeterred by the Batbusters’ mini-rally, SoCal clamored back with three more runs in the bottom half of the frame, two of which coming on an Ashley Corpuz triple.
Taking over for Oshiana Schenkelberg in the fifth inning, Marisa Salazar finished off the Batbusters in the sixth, racking up two more strikeouts to finish with four in two innings of work. The quick half inning solidified the Athletics’ second win in as many games, 13-7.
“I’m really happy with all of our pitchers,” said Limosnero. “They’ve all done a solid job keeping us in games and shutting teams down when it comes time to close them out.”
While the SoCal coaching staff eyes more adjustments as the week progresses, the players are happy to enjoy everything the Colorado Sparkler and Fireworks has to offer.
“I got a chance to play in the All-Star games yesterday, and I think we’re all looking forward to the festivals later this week,” said Haygood.
“You don’t always get a chance to go play against or interact with girls from around the country,” Kim explained. “It’s one of my favorite parts about coming out here.”
SoCal Athletics-Limo will wrap up pool play Wednesday morning against Vision Elite Gold. A win would secure themselves a spot in the 14u Supplemental Power Pool Playoff Bracket, and an opportunity at a championship game broadcasted live on Watch ESPN on Thursday at the Aurora Sports Park.