Some days it’s just not your day and there’s seemingly nothing you can do to stem the tide.
The Power Surge 12U team from San Diego had been steamrolling everyone it faced in 12U this week, but faced a buzzsaw on Sunday at the PGF 12U National Championship at Bill Barker Park in Irvine, California as the Birmingham Thunderbolts 2024 team roughed up the Surge 14-4.
Even Surge Head Coach Scott Berndes jokingly said after the game when looking at his 2nd place trophy which said “Runer Up” instead of “Runner Up” showing one more thing that conspired against his team.
“It should say ‘Ruined Up,’ because that’s what happened today with the Bolts.”
How powerful was the Birmingham Bolts onslaught in the title game on Sunday?
The Bolts scored in five of the seven innings and started the game with five runs and ended in the 7th inning with five more with four in-between. The Alabama-based team, which won the PGF 16U National Championship last year, had 15 hits and saw every starter get on base at least once.
Before the first out was recorded in the game, the Surge had changed pitchers and would go through three in the first inning (all three would return, but none of the trio—who were excellent all week—could stop the Bolts bats).
The key blow in the first inning was Shelby McKenzie’s three-run home run that went an estimated 240 feet, easily clearing the Deanna Manning Stadium’s fixed fences at 220-feet.
PGF President Dan Hay commented after the game, “In the two weeks of championship play this year, this was the first home run over the fence here; no one did it at the 18U or 16U levels last week, not even in the PGF All-Star Game.”
McKenzie, who was also the starting pitcher, giving up an uncharacteristic nine hits and four runs in four innings, but she matched that with the four RBIs she accounted for herself as she added a two-out RBI double in the top of the 4th inning to account for her quartet of runs knocked in.
The Surge came back in the bottom of the 1st with two runs to draw within three, but the Bolts answered back with two of their own and Bendes felt that was the difference.
“It wasn’t the five in the first that killed us,” he said, “It was the second inning which pushed it out of reach. For some reason we came out nervous and you have to give them credit. We only had five 12U losses this year and they were one of them.”
The Bolts’ offense was so dominating that leadoff centerfielder Jazmine Green went to the plate five times and, with her three hits and two walks, scored five runs. Batting in the 2-spot, third baseman Brantlee Wortham went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Second baseman Mari Hubbard and catcher Tia Titi each had two RBIs for the Thunderbolts.
“The expectation is there,” Coach Andrew Burns said of his team’s nearly flawless performance. “We’ve been telling the whole season that they have all the tools they need. We’ve been playing a lot of 14U competition that’s prepared us for this tournament.”
Burns thinks that falling into the Loser’s Bracket helped his team focus on what needed to be done to not just get to the championship game, but to win it.
“They (the players) tightened up, got their bats going and the pitching was phenomenal. It put pressure on us to perform (and) that game got us going and really solidified the character of our team.”
Mya Holt, who also pitched well during the week with a two-hit shutout in one Winner’s Bracket game, was another star for the champs as she pitched the final three innings giving up just one hit and no walks.
Shelby McKenzie, who has been hot all week and was chosen as the Extra Inning Softball PGF 12U Tournament MVP for her prowess with her bat and arm, knew her team had the firepower to get the win.
“I knew it was going to be a fight, but I knew we could do it. It feels amazing, I’m so glad I worked so hard to get here! And I’m so proud of everyone on our team.”