By Adam Dunivan
THORNTON -- There were very few slip-ups for Gaby Benjamin and the rest of the Firecrackers Brashear/Roth 18U softball team on Wednesday morning.
In fact, one of the only ones made for a light-hearted moment for the team in their 8-3 victory over Lady Hustle Marshall 18 Gold at the Northern Lights fields, part of the Colorado Fireworks 18 Power Pool Supplemental Elite division tournament.
Laughs were shared when Benjamin, the team's starting pitcher, slipped on one of her deliveries in the fourth inning of their CA Box Bracket winner's game -- and holding a 6-0 lead at the time certainly made it more easy for Benjamin to swallow the moment.
"It was a full-count change-up, and I was so ready to strike her out ... I was just like, 'Oh, man'," Benjamin said, still laughing and a bit embarrassed.
Luckily for her team, her change-up as well as that of reliever Catalina Aguilar was pretty spot-on. Hustle (Pleasanton, Calif.) had scored 16 runs in their earlier box bracket win, but Benjamin and Aguilar had some good defense behind them to help limit their opponents to five total hits.
Second baseman Jasmyn Vigilante had a couple of stellar plays up the middle of the field, and the Firecrackers (Lancaster, Calif.) moved on to the Gold Bracket of the division with a 3-1 overall record.
"If we're all playing behind each other we're solid," said Vigilante, who also had three of her team's 13 hits.
"It helped that we scored a lot of runs in the first inning, because when I went out to pitch I felt a lot more comfortable," Benjamin added. "I was getting called for a crow hop, and that made it a little more difficult but I was able to work through it, and I'm glad that Cat was able to have my back. Cat and I ulitlized our change-up today because it seemed like something they were having a little trouble with hitting."
The Firecrackers scored five runs in the first inning, highlighted by Chloe Bahruth's two-run home run to dead center field. Hustle relief pitcher Ayanna Sanchez came in to close out the first frame and held steady through five innings after that, but another two-run home run from Alexa Alvarez in the seventh provided the game's final runs.
Aguilar faced the minimum and allowed just one hit in her three innings to get a save.
Earlier in the day, the Firecrackers outlasted Bombers HTX 18 Gold-Clevenger 10-6. Both of those teams had gone 1-1 in Tuesday's non-bracket play, and Vigilante said she liked how the team pulled through in the late innings after seeing some pressure put on their early advantages.
"We started off on top at the beginning and when it came to the middle of the games it felt like we lost it a little bit, but we knew if we stayed confident and played our game we could still pull it out," Vigilante said. "Just stay calm."