Archive for Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fast times at fastpitch

Riddle, Braves continue mound dominance

Lawrence Phenix pitcher Karen Spence slaps hands with teammate Laura Hunn as she enters the dugout after scoring Friday during bracket play of the AFA Nationals against the Missouri Sparks at Holcom Park. Center is Phenix player Jourdan Sumunja.

Lawrence Phenix pitcher Karen Spence slaps hands with teammate Laura Hunn as she enters the dugout after scoring Friday during bracket play of the AFA Nationals against the Missouri Sparks at Holcom Park. Center is Phenix player Jourdan Sumunja.

July 21, 2007

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With the strikeout totals that Tonganoxie Braves pitcher Amie Riddle has been recording in the American Fastpitch Association "B" National Championship Tournament, there's been one Braves player that seems to be lost in the mix: catcher Melissa Pratt.

Pratt has caught all five of the Braves' games in pool play and bracket action, and on Friday Pratt's clutch plate appearance late in the game lifted the Tongie team to a 2-0 victory over the Dakota Fury.

"The key is behind the plate, and that's Melissa," Braves coach Craig Lohman said. "She called another good game tonight. ... For pitchers and catchers, we've got the best duo for working together, knowing what to do and getting it done."

With the Braves still having difficulty on offense, they had their best chance to score in the sixth inning with Amanda Darrow on third and Tracie Hileman on second with just one out.

That's when Pratt, who had struck out in two previous at-bats, hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to score the winning run.

"When she struck out on that changeup, she was upset at herself," Lohman said. "She knew better than that. But that shows how much of a competitor she is."

Riddle once again was stellar for the Braves, going all seven innings, giving up four hits and striking out 13, bringing her tournament total to 47 strikeouts in 33 innings.

Lawrence Phenix-Rusk was on both ends of a pair of close games in the winner's bracket.

In their first game, Karen Spence struck out the final batter with the bases loaded to give Phenix-Rusk a 4-3 win over the Missouri Sparks.

"When I was warming up I told Caitlin (Bowlin) that I've got this, and that I can do it," said Spence, who still was shaking from the adrenaline after the game. "But I made things a little interesting. It was definitely exciting."

In Game Two, the Kansas City Blast got out in front early, and Phenix-Rusk wasn't able to put together a rally in a 4-1 loss.

"They just got a lot of little base hits. They never hit the ball hard, and they were just dinking them in front of us," Phenix-Rusk coach Jay Rusk said.

The flame finally went out for the Lawrence Phenix-Fyler squad. After winning its first game of the loser's bracket, 6-3 over Tulsa Git-R-Done, they lost to the Missouri Sparks, 2-1.

In the victory over Git-R-Done, Chelsey Sevigny came in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and down 3-1 in the fourth inning. Sevigny made quick work of her at-bat by hitting a triple to put the Lawrence squad ahead for good.

"I was pretty excited to go up there and hit the ball because I hadn't been in the game yet," Sevigny said. "Coach just told me to go up there, take the first pitch to see what she's got. So I just took the first pitch and then just hit the ball."

Unfortunately, Phenix-Fyler was unable to build off of a 3-for-3 batting performance by Hannah Somers in Game 2.

The Lawrence team actually held a one-run lead until the Sparks scored two runs in the fifth frame.

"We didn't have many errors and we hit pretty well, so we went down swinging," said Phenix-Fyler pitcher Jordan Kruse, who earned the win in Game 1 and the loss in the second game. "So we're not feeling that bad."

Kruse followed up a six strikeout game against Git-R-Done with a seven strikeout performance in the losing effort.

The Ottawa Sabotage were unable to join Tonganoxie as the only local teams in the winner's bracket after a 1-0 loss in eight innings to the Nebraska Storm.

Sabotage starting pitcher went the entire game and struck out eight batters, but with the Ottawa team collecting only four hits, she received little offensive support.

Phenix-Rusk will now play the Flames of Nebraska-Red Hot, which beat Phenix-Rusk 5-0 during pool play, at 8 a.m. today. The winner of that game will face the winner of Ottawa's match up with the Amity (Mo.) Trojanettes at 8 a.m.

Tongie will meet the Fort Scott Tigers in the winner's bracket today at 9:30 a.m.

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