Some late-game heroics boosted Lawrence Phenix-Fyler and Lawrence Phenix-Rusk in their opening games of bracket play in the American Fastpitch Association "B" National Championship Tournament on Thursday at Clinton Lake Softball Complex.
The Phenix-Fyler squad had to play an inning of international tie-breaker - which delayed the start of the Phenix-Rusk game - before beating the Bellevue (Neb.) Lady Bruins, 7-4.
"We couldn't have called for a better international tie-breaker, second-base runner than Michelle Bowman and Michelle being followed by Erin Wilson because those are the two quickest players we have," said Phenix-Fyler coach Randy Fyler, whose team didn't get their first-base runner until a two-run fifth inning. "They just weren't quiting. We just keep plugging away."
Chelsey Sevigny kick-started the five-run tie-breaker inning by hitting a two-run single with the bases loaded.
Once Phenix-Rusk took the field, starting pitcher Callie Craig contained the Cemo Havoc in a 2-1 win.
After walking home a run with no outs in the third inning, Craig retired the next three batters to escape relatively unharmed.
Over the final four innings Craig allowed just one hit and stranded three base runners.
"I guess I did pretty good," said Craig, who struck out eight, gave up five hits and issued two walks. "I was hurting a little bit in the beginning. I hurt my leg, but then I felt better at the end, and I felt strong. ... But fortunately the defense held up behind me."
Caitlin Bowlin knocked in Tracie Weege for the game-winning run after Jessie Tillery, who came in as a courtesy runner after Craig hit a single, scored on a two-base throwing error by the Havoc's pitcher.
The win for the Phenix-Rusk gave them the rest of Thursday off, but the Phenix-Fyler group wasn't as fortunate.
Fyler's team had to travel over to YSI to face up against the Cemo Blast, falling 8-4.
Erin Wilson, who went 2-for-3 with two runs in the win over the Lady Bruins, had the exact same line, 2-for-3 with two runs, in the evening loss.
The Tonganoxie Braves got yet another strong performance from starting pitcher Amie Riddle in a 3-1 win over the Flames of Nebraska-Red Hot at Youth Sports Inc.
Riddle went seven innings, striking out eight and allowing four hits.
"I don't think I did as well today because they hit more," Riddle said. "But I guess I still did OK. I still got eight strikeouts, and we still won."
The Flames' Brittnay Asche, who went 2-for-3, was the first batter in the Braves' four tournament games to get more than one hit off Riddle.
Of the 12 hits combined in the game, Braves' catcher Melissa Pratt hit one that had fans jumping to their feet the minute she made contact.
Pratt gave the Tongie team a little extra breathing room in the top of the seventh by blasting a full-count, solo home run so deep to left that the left fielder didn't even move.
"Whenever she was just standing out there I thought it was going right to her because she just kind of sat there and looked at it," said Pratt, who also hit a double in the first with the count at 3-and-2.
However, the Braves' offense is still too stagnant for Tongie coach Craig Lohman, who said he would have his team show up two hours before their 8:30 p.m. game today at YSI for a little batting practice.
"We're hitting the cages tomorrow," Lohman said. "We've got to get those bats going because one time you're going to have to produce a couple of runs to stay in the winner's side (of the bracket)."
The Ottawa Sabotage find themselves in the same position as the Braves after defeating the Kansas City Blasters, 5-3, and the Churchville (Maryland) Lightning, 4-3 in eight innings.
The Sabotage will have to wait until an early game is played to find out who they will face at 8:30 p.m. today at YSI.
Phenix-Rusk will play today at 11 a.m. against the Missouri Sparks at Holcom Complex, while Phenix-Fyler will begin playing in the losers bracket at 2:30 p.m. against Tulsa Git-R-Done at YSI.