Rain delayed the start of the 18-U Phenix Ts pool play in the American Fastpitch Assn. B National Tournament until Wednesday. And when the game finally started, it looked as if the Ts still were a bit delayed. However late inning offense propelled the Ts to a 3-2 victory over the Sooner Stars.
The Phenix Ts took on the Sooner Stars from Lawton, Oklahoma in their first game of the tournament.
The Stars gave the Ts an early challenge, getting on the board first with a run by Sherry Tetreault. Phenix starting pitcher Stephanie Brossett struck out the next batter, and then the Phenix infield backed her up with two more outs to end the inning.
Amy Craig led off the bottom of the inning for the Phenix Ts, but struck out. Two pop-ups ended the first inning for the Ts.
Lisa Pearse was on the mound in the next inning for the Ts, forcing a pop fly for the first out, and after a runner reached base catcher Trisha King made a quick throw to second to catch the runner attempting to steal. Then the Phenix turned a ground ball down the third base into the third out of the inning.
Stars' pitcher Jessica Wright shut down the Ts offense again in the bottom of the second. After giving up a walk, Wright took the batters down in order to preserve the Stars' one-run lead.
The pitchers for both teams continued their strong work in the third and fourth innings, not allowing a run. The Stars' Wright struck out five batters in the two-inning span and caught a runner stealing second. The Phenix Ts' Pearse struck out one batter, and the infield backed her up to convert five ground balls into outs.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Stars managed to pad their lead. After a strikeout and a ground-out, Tetreault got on base with a single, stole second and then came home on a single from Wright to right field.
Going into the last inning the Stars had a two-run lead. With the game time expiring, the Ts had one last chance to mount a comeback and take their first game of pool play, giving them a boost of confidence going into the rest of the tournament.
A lead-off walk put Jenny Tanner on base for the Ts. Then, Trisha King was patient, working the count to get on base. After a strike out, the Phenix Ts' Amy Craig drove in a run with a base hit. But the pressure was still on to capitalize on the bases-loaded situation. Wright gave up her fourth walk of the inning and tied the game, 2-2. The Phenix Ts' Alyssa Golden could taste the opportunity she had to win the game. And she did it, driving in the third and winning run on a hit to centerfield.
Coach Gary Tanner said the win was a big boost for the team going into the rest of the week, but his players were taking the tournament one game at a time.
"This weekend is the culmination of the season and we are just putting it all together," Tanner said. "The girls know what they have to do to win."
Stars' coach Steve Tetreault said his team needed to get their bats going to have success in the tournament.
Coach Tanner said his team needed to use their discipline on the offensive side to see the ball and stop chasing it.
"We need to make the pitcher do their work," Tanner said. "In the last inning we started to wait for our pitch, and it paid off for the victory."
The Ts carried over the momentum from the victory in their second pool play game and defeated the KC Shockwaves, 7-0, to go undefeated heading into bracket play.
In bracket play the Phenix Ts continued their offensive troubles losing to the Shockers on Thursday 7-1. The loss moved them to the losers bracket, and on Friday the Ts battled the Lansing Outlaws in a close game. The Outlaws edged out the Ts 6-5, and with the loss the Phenix Ts tournament appearance was over.