By Michael Roley
Things were looking bleak for the Texas Glory-Sanders 14U squad after three innings in their second game on opening day of the Colorado Sparkler Juniors tournament at Barnes Field in Loveland.
The Glory trailed the Oklahoma Bombers 03-Ray team 6-0 after the third inning and didn’t have a baserunner reach in the first several frames.
But ultimately, that slow start didn’t matter as the Glory found their groove in the second half of the contest and staged a furious rally, topped off with several big home runs to win 9-7 and move to 2-0 in Pool C play.
The Bombers went up early in the top half of the first inning on an RBI double before a four-run third inning put the Glory in a 6-0 hole. Afterward, players said there was no worry or panic on their end at that point. There was plenty of softball left to be played and once the bats started clicking, there was no looking back.
“We got more pumped,” said Grace Ahlborn, who hit a clutch home run in the fourth. “We got on a run and just kept it up.”
Head coach Blake Sanders said his team changed their approach at the plate after the third inning and began putting together better at-bats. Arguably, it made all the difference.
“We had more disciplined at-bats,” he said. “It was more being patient, letting the ball get deeper. We were a little too much out in front, the ball coming off the end of the bat. Sounds like they listened and let the ball travel where it needed to and that took care of it.”
After seeing their first 10 batters retired in order by the Bombers starting pitcher, the Glory’s Madeline Robinson kicked off the rally with a double. After a Bombers error put another runner on, Ahlborn stepped to the plate and completely flipped the momentum of the game with a 3-run shot to bring the score to 6-3.
Glory pitcher Danielle Gillean settled in nicely in the circle in the fourth, only allowing one run on four hits over her last three innings of work, including a key one-two-three fifth inning.
The Glory continued their comeback in their half of the fifth, jumpstarted by a lead-off double by Andria Houser. Then, a two-run blast with two outs from the Glory brought the deficit to just one at 6-5.
Following a Bombers run in the sixth, the Glory still had a little bit of comeback magic left in their half of the inning. After a lead-off double, Ahlborn brought the lead to within one with her fourth RBI of the morning on a double. Then during the play, an errant Bombers throw trying to get Ahlborn at second sailed into right-center field, allowing Ahlborn to score the tying run on a wild sequence of events.
The sixth inning momentum continued for the Glory as they loaded the bases. That set the stage for the starting pitcher Gillean, and she delivered a two-run single to put the Glory ahead once-and-for all at 9-7.
The Glory won their first game of the day Tuesday, a 4-1 victory over All-American Sports Academy 2022 and are now in favorable position with a 2-0 record in Pool Play on the first day.
“It’s a good start and we’ve got the momentum on our side,” Sanders said. “Now if we can keep it and take care of business on Thursday and go 4-0 and go into brackets, I think we’ll be in good shape.”