The Tampa Mustangs-TJ faced an awfully familiar opponent in Thursday night’s 14U Power Pool championship game of the Colorado Fireworks tournament at Aurora Sports Park.
The opponent was not only from their native city of Tampa, Florida, they were from the same program. The Mustangs-TJ beat the Tampa Mustangs-Hennigar 8-5 to claim the title.
Afterward, Mustangs-TJ coach TJ Goelz said the two teams –although acquainted with each other – do not play each other often.
“It was a treat and an honor,” Goelz said. “We don’t play each other that much as strange as it sounds. It’s been awhile since we’ve played them. The coaches there are doing a phenomenal job and really bringing that team along. There’s so much talent there. Either way a Mustang team was going to win the championship.”
Jenna Lord stole the show for the Mustangs-TJ. The right fielder had no trouble finding the sweet spot of the bat. Lord launched three home runs in the game, including a three-run shot in the bottom of the first that propelled Mustangs-TJ to a 4-1 lead.
She followed that up with a go-ahead solo shot in the third that gave the Mustangs-TJ the lead once-and-for-all at 6-5. For her encore act, Lord added a two-out, solo homer in the sixth to give Mustangs-TJ an additional insurance run and push their lead to 8-5.
“The first game that we had today out of three, I went 0-3,” Lord said. “I just wasn’t seeing the ball well and I told myself to make an adjustment and see the ball down, not up. I made my adjustment the second and third game.”
The Mustangs-Hennigar struck first in the top of the first with a home run by Krystina Hartley before Mustangs-TJ erupted with their four-spot in the bottom half of the inning. Mustangs-Hennigar worked their way back on a two-run home run from Katie Bright that made it 4-3.
After another run by Mustangs-TJ that pushed the score back to 5-3, Bright came through again with a game-tying two-run double in the top of the third that knotted it at five.
Lord then mashed the go-ahead bomb in the bottom half of the third and Mustangs-TJ pushed across another run in the fourth on an infield single.
Through six games of this tournament, Mustangs-TJ certainly did a lot of positive things while en route to the championship. But, it was the resolve, resiliency, and explosiveness that impressed their coach the most.
“This team has firepower and we’re never going to be out of the fight,” Goelz said. “That’s our tagline this year is ‘You’re never out of the fight.’ We know that even if we give up a few home runs or things happen, we can put four, five or six runs on the board like that. We can do it with one out, two outs, it doesn’t matter. What I saw out of my team the last six games since we’ve been here is just firepower and just that they know they can do it at any given point.”
Lord said she know a couple players from the Mustangs-Hennigar and even that they’ll be attending the same high school in the near future. And that, she said, made the experience even more enjoyable.
The Mustangs-TJ came a long way to Colorado to win a championship. Surely, the plane ride back to Florida will be full of smiles.
“It feels great and it feels great just to know all these girls have my back,” Lord said. “We can swing the bat whenever we need to or whenever we’re in pressure situations. Just knowing my team always has my back even if I don’t get on is one of the greatest