AURORA, Colo. -- Resting for two days before opening 18u Fireworks play is just what the doctor ordered for the Rhode Island Thunder Gold – Wilson. Opening on Thursday with a 16-2 win over the Northwest Lady Bandits, Rhode Island followed up with a 10-0 victory over Polar Rush Gold.
“With a couple of our games readjusted due to the weather, I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to look like with a couple days rest,” said head coach Adam Laliberte. “Obviously, coming from out East we’re not quite used to the atmosphere of Colorado. It’s been nice to get our wind a little bit.”
After a quiet first inning of softball, Meghan Gormley made some noise in the top half of the second. With two outs, Gormely launched a solo home run, giving the Thunder the early lead.
“Coach had us really focused on going after that first-pitch strike,” said Gormley. “Against these tougher pitchers, you’re not always going to get that perfect pitch. You have to do the best with what you’re given.”
Rhode Island added two more runs in the third inning as Emily Tow matched Gormley’s effort with a home run of her own. Kaitlyn Holly also tallied a run, utilizing her speed to take advantage of a few Polar Rush defensive errors.
In the circle, Caitlyn Fallon was spinning a gem. Through three innings, the University of Maine commit dealt two 1-2-3 innings and struck out two.
“We were kind of hitting everything, my catcher and I,” Fallon said. “We were hitting a lot of different spots and with a lot of movement.”
Even with a bit of pressure in the fourth and fifth innings with runners in scoring position, Fallon relied on her defense, forcing a duo of popups in each frame.
“They always have each other’s back,” Fallon said. “The team is always the priority. It’s an awesome team culture to have.”
Already leading 3-0, the Thunder added to its total with a safety squeeze bunt in the fourth inning from Gabrielle Comeau.
Still not satisfied, Rhode Island exploded for six runs in the sixth inning. The Thunder totaled four extra-base hits, including a three-run home run by Olivia Gilbert, her fourth of the tournament.
“I’m just trying to pick up my team right now,” said Gilbert. “My bat wasn’t as hot last week so I’ve tried to pick it up this week.”
Laliberte handed the reins over to Jenna Bradley in the sixth inning. With the double-digit advantage, Bradley confidently set down the top of the Polar Crush lineup in order.
“Our pitching has been fantastic,” said Laliberte. “We’ve been focused on clean defense, because if you make a mistake against the teams in this tournament, you’re almost certain to give up a run if not more. I couldn’t be happier with how Caitlyn and Jenna pitched today.”
Rhode Island earns a top seed in the 18u Fireworks double elimination bracket. Before its Friday matchup, the Thunder will play a pair of practice games, looking to continue its momentum.
“We just need to have fun,” said Gormley. “That’s what this is all about.”