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Here’s our TLI for Friday, July 31, 2020 …
Tennessee Mojo's organization has been one of the most prolific in the nation in recent years and it continued to flex its muscles by winning two championships at the USA Softball Junior Olympic Cup on Friday at Tyger River Park in Spartanburg County, SC.
Tennessee Mojo 2021, #6 in the Extra Elite Eighty 16U Club Rankings, beat #14 Gold Coast Hurricanes-Hammonds, 5-0, to capture its second straight JO Cup 16U championship and Tennessee Mojo 2024-Ross, #12 in the Extra Elite Eighty 14U Club Rankings, defeated Florida Impact 05-Gatewood, 10-4, to claim the JO Cup 14U title.
Mojo 2021 relied on its deep pitching staff all week and Michigan-commit Lauren Derkowski took center stage in the finals against the Hurricanes. The right-hander tossed a four-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and no walks to record the complete game victory.
Derkowski, #36 in the 2021 Extra Elite 100, was pretty spectacular in bracket play all week, going 3-0 with three saves in seven appearances, a 1.04 ERA and 33 Ks in 27 innings pitched.
"In the championship, I knew I just had to trust myself, my team and my coaches," Derkowski said. "I felt confident and I knew my team was backing me up. My pitches were working, and my catcher (Riley Hull) was calling a great game! It was such a great feeling to get the win and celebrate with my team!"
Mojo 2021's offense got things going in the bottom of the second with an RBI double by Claire Anna Czajkowski, Rose Roach drove in a run with fielder's choice and Aubrey Barnhart added a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
Barnhart drove in another run with a line drive to left field in the bottom of the fourth and Mojo 2021 added an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-0.
Auburn Dupree went 1 for 3 with a stolen base and two runs scored and Morgan Nowakowski went 1 for 2 with two runs scored for Mojo 2021.
Mojo 2021's run to the title did not come without adversity. Mojo 2021 lost to Atlanta Vipers-Billings, 6-2, on Thursday morning and had to win three consecutive games, including two over the Vipers in the semifinals, to reach the finals.
"Our run to the championship was a battle," Derkowski said. "We had lost our first game yesterday and had to play three more. We had a big team dinner the night before, and didn’t expect to play four games the next day, but we knew we would do anything to get to the championship. We really came together as a team and left everything on the field.
"To win the whole thing, it took true team effort, determination and grit. It definitely paid off! We had a goal set and we were ready to fight for the win."
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