It was the final of the three-day PGF Shootout tournament this weekend and all the action took place at the Fountain Valley Sports Park where the titles were decided.
Here’s a closer look at how the championships played out…
18U: Beverly Bandits - Tyrrell/Kelly-Madera 3, So Cal A’s - Richardson 0
Two of the top pitchers at the 18U club level faced off as Devyn Netz (uncommitted), a top 20 rated player in the 2020 Extra Elite 100 for So Cal A’s - Richardson, and Sydney Supple, a top 10-calber player in the 2019 class with the Beverly Bandits - Tyrrell/Madera, faced off in the PGF Shootout 18U championship game held Sunday morning in Fountain Valley, California.
The difference was the bat of Supple, who hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the 5th to power the Bandits to a 3-0 win to give the Bandits its second tournament championship after winning the King of the Hill in Crown Point, Indiana two weekends ago.
“It was a different game,” said Head Coach Meg Kelly-Madera, “in that the four games yesterday we had to come from behind to win. This game we had to stay focused and not become complacent and I was really happy with how we did that.”
The Bandits put the first and only run it would need on the board in the bottom of the first when outfield Kiki Milloy (Tennessee) led off and was hit by a pitch, Supple got an infield single and catcher/infielder Abby Doer (Oregon) doubled to left center to put the score at 1-0.
The Bandits had a chance to blow the game open after loading the bases with no outs, but Netz was able to get two infield ground outs and a strikeout to leave the bases loaded.
The A’s had some chances: infielder Miranda Johnson (Notre Dame) singled to right field to open the bottom of the 2nd inning and moved to second on a sacrifice, but was stranded on third after a groundout and flyout.
The A’s threatened in the top of the 6th when Ali Belarde (Utah) reached on an infield single and Megan Mikami (Maryland) walked, but Supple get three outs to extinguish the threat.
The A’s Johnson got her second hit with a two-out flair to right in the top of the 7th inning and pinch-hitter Rachel Allen (Notre Dame) brought the tying run to the plate, but Supple was able to close the door with a game-ending strikeout to record a five-hit shutout and the title win.
“Ashley (Shultz, the catcher committed to Northwestern) called a great game and I knew I had a defense that would literally run into a fence to help me,” Supple said referring to an all-out defensive play made by left fielder Jaylin Calvert, who went face-first into the right-field fence to go after a fall ball and was shaken up but not hurt seriously.”
“I was able to mix up the pitches,” continued the pitcher, “and go high and low, in and out of the zone and had the confidence that my team had my back.”
16U: Beverly Bandits - Conroy 4, Athletics - Mercado/Greg
The second game of the PGF Shootout Championships featured a showdown of two of the top 16U teams in the country: Bill Conroy’s Bandits squad facing the Athletics - Mercado/Greg team.
The game was scoreless until the top of the 3rd when second baseman Easton Lotus, an uncommitted middle infielder, hit a flair to centerfield that found its way in to knock in two runners, third baseman Cassidy Grimm who reached on an infield error to open the inning and right-fielder Paige Geraghty (Louisville-Lafayette) who singled following a sacrifice bunt.
The Athletics pushed across its first run in the bottom of the 4th inning to cut the lead to 2-1 when a passed ball by pitcher Reagan Krause (Illinois) allowed outfielder Devyn Greer (North Carolina State) to score with two outs. Greer had reached on an infield error and had moved to third after a hit batter and a sacrifice.
But the Bandits answered right back in the top of the 5th inning by loading the bases and, with one out, infielder Hallie Mangurten (uncommitted) laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate and the flip home by A’s pitcher Stevie Hansen was late to extend the lead to 3-1.
Anna Holloway (Notre Dame) followed with a soft RBI single that was stopped from going into left field but it allowed Geraghty to score to push the score to 4-1.
The Bandits were able to utilize two future Illinois pitchers in starter Tori McQueen, who went the first two innings and gave up two hits but no runs and then Regan Krause, who went the final five innings with just one hit and one run allowed (unearned) and eight strikeouts.
A’s pitcher Stevie Hansen was impressive in the loss with her rise and drop curve, striking out 10 and giving up three earned runs with no walks.
As for the platoon pitching line-up, Conroy explained: “It’s something we always do, we use the lefty to go through the lineup one time and then bring in the second pitcher which makes her look even stronger. We’ve done it every time.”
It worked to perfection this weekend as the Bandits won, like the 18U team, a second title in the three weeks after also capturing the top spot in the King of the Hill two weeks ago.
Krause added about her one-hit performance, “I felt confident in my spins and my dropball was working, I threw it a lot. I tried to go both sides of the plate and work up and down. I’m just happy it went the way it did.”
14U: Athletics - Mercado/Greg 5, Cal Breeze - Fernald 3
The 14U title game at the PGF Shootout matched California Breeze - Fernald against another Athletics - Mercado/Greg team led by Greg Borzilleri and after the two teams scored 23 and 35 runs, respective, in three games on Saturday, you’d expect the championship game would have been an offensive explosion.
Not quite, although both teams had multi-run innings and several chances to break the game.
The Athletics scored four in the top of the 2nd inning as infielder Jade Ignacio, pitcher Rose Cano and outfield Hannah Hernandez all singled to load the bases with one out before outfielder Brandy Kinch stroked a single to right field to bring home Ignacio and the game’s first run.
Infielder Kaila Pollard, a commit to Florida, drilled a two-out triple down the right field line to plate two and later came home on a dropped ball by the first baseman and, suddenly, through two innings it was 4-0 Athletics on six hits and two errors by the Breeze.
Meanwhile, A’s starter Rose Cano hadn’t allowed a hit and had struck out three through into the fourth inning before the Breeze put on its own rally in the bottom of the inning to tighten the game.
Outfielder Makayla Newsom and infielder Jadyn Fernald singled and then both came home on a triple to left field by catcher/infielder Laila Ledesma that initially looked like it cleared the fence. A ground out by pitcher Malaya Johnson brought Ledesma home and what looked at one point like a potential run-away for the A’s became a one-run lead at 4-3.
The Athletics looked to answer with one-out singles from Pollard and infielder Bella Mejia in the top of the 5th and both ended up on second and third, but Malaya Johnson got pop-up outs in the infield to extinguish the potential rally.
That left the Breeze open to put on its own threat in the bottom of the fifth as a single and a walk put runners on first and second with one out, but Cano got two flyouts and an inning-ending strikeout.
In the top of the 6th the A’s loaded the bases with no outs as Ignacio singled and then Cano hit a deep fly ball to center that was nearly caught, forcing Ignacio to stay at second. Perez singled over second base, but the runners had to just move up a station. The A’s were able to get a run as Kinch hit a deep fly ball to center allowing Ignacio to beat the throw and make the lead 5-3.
Cano finished off the Breeze in the 7th inning to secure the win with a lot of help from her defense as centerfielder Hernandez made a diving catch to get the first out. The pitcher finished the game with seven strikeouts and scattered five hits and three earned runs.
Offensively, Ignacio went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Pollard went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
“Our experience helped us win it,” commented Coach Borzilleri after the win. “You can’t say enough about Rose and the pitching she did, she also had two hits and is so versatile. In the circle, she’s not going to dominate you with one pitch, but will win with her consistency and how she will battle every pitch.”
And as for winning the 14U title after losing the 16U earlier, the coach concluded: “We went 1-for-2, that’s .500… not too bad, is it? Honestly, with these two groups of kids, I feel we really have something special.”
12U: Corona Angels - Tyson ’06 4, Power Surge - Berndes 2
In the final battle of the day, the 12U PGF Shootout matched two teams from Southern California in the Angels from the Inland Empire and the Surge from San Diego.
The Angels jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning as shortstop Ciela Pickett singled to right and would come around to score on an RBI single by DP/pitcher Mikayla Martinez.
The Surge responded quickly in the top of the 2nd inning as pitcher Mckenna Geiger doubled to left and would come around to score on a double by catcher Michelle Cervantes with one out. With two outs, Peanut Garcia would reach on an error and Cervantes would move to 3rd base and score on a single to left by shortstop Tamara Carranza to give the Surge its first lead of the game 2-1.
The Angels came right back to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom of the 2nd inning as Ciella Pickett knocked in Alexis Ellenwood and then two inning later loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 4th and retook the lead 3-2 on an unusual play.
Thinking the count was full, the batter walked down to first and outfielder Sydney Howe trotted home and touched the plate. However, it was only ball three and, because the play was live, the run counted but the runner on second subsequently stepped off the bag when the pitcher was in the circle and was called out.
The Angels added to the lead in the bottom of 6th when Daina Munoz lined to left field, but went to second when the ball was bobbled by the outfielder. Munoz scooted to third on a passed ball and came home to make the score 4-2 on a grounder by Alexis Ellenwood that took a wicked hop in front of the Surge shortstop and caromed off the fielder into centerfield.
Angels pitcher Jazmine Chavez was one of the keys to victory as she appeared to get stronger as the game went on. In the complete game win, Chavez only gave up three hits and just one earned run while striking out six (including the side in the 7th inning) and walking one.
Head coach Dominique Tyson, daughter of organization head Marty Tyson, said after the game: “My dad teaches players what it takes to win championships and that’s good pitching, clutch hitting and solid defense. This weekend, our team did all three and it was a total team effort.”