COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The saying goes that big time players make big time plays in big time moments. Never was this truer than for Emily Yoon, who recovered from a disappointing pitching performance to hit the game-winning two-run home run to give her Bengals CKM 2010 the 2023 Colorado 4th of July 12u Title over the Corona Angels, 6-4.
“We’ve been playing good softball all year, and this was a goal of ours from the beginning of the year,” said Head Coach Paull Caffrey. “I’m just proud of their effort this week. The girls hit unbelievably well this week. We’re known for having good pitching, we’re spoiled with our staff, and they were amazing for us all week.”
In a championship game that featured two southern California teams very familiar with each other, it was a back-and-forth affair in front of raucous fans. Chants of “Let’s go Angels” and “Let’s go Bengals” permeated the facility. The Bengals looked poised to strike first in the top of the first inning, but the Corona Angels stepped up with a double play and threw a runner out at home to keep the game scoreless.
In the top of the second inning, Corona Angels once again got out of trouble, stranding two Bengals runners on second and third. The Bengals finally pulled through in the top of the third when Kaylyn Yi found the gap up the middle of the defense with a two-RBI single to give her team a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, the Angels finally got something going against Bengals’ pitcher Guliana Vega and scored one run to make it 2-1.
Vega helped her own cause in the top of the fourth inning with a two-RBI single to make it 4-1 and put the momentum right back in the hands of the Bengals. Vega exited the game and made way for Yoon, one of their star pitchers all year, to come pitch. It was not Yoon’s normal performance on the mound, however. The Angels found their offensive rhythm against Yoon came all the way back to tie the game at 4-4 as Yoon was forced to exit the game for Vega again.
Visibly upset in the dugout after relinquishing the lead, Yoon had little time to dwell on her poor performance.
“I feel like after I came out, I was really frustrated,” Yoon said. “I really wanted to help my team win though. Initially I just wanted to get on base, but then I heard them call for an inside pitch and I just turned on it.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Yoon heard the Angels call for an inside pitch. She sat waiting for the inside pitch and turned on it, launching it over left field for her first career home run, giving the Bengals a 6-4 win and the 12u championship.
“You couldn’t script it any better,” Caffrey said. “She has never struggled pitching like that for us all year. She has the most innings, she has the most strikeouts for us, she has been a dominant force. She was visibly upset, and I told her ‘Whatever happened there, you leave that there. That 15 seconds is over, now go win us the game.’ She did that and I couldn’t be prouder of her.”