The weekend started with the team’s schedule getting changed due to Mother Nature late Friday evening. The team’s first pool play game was to begin at 12:30 PM on Saturday but got moved to eight in the morning which meant the girls had to be up and moving way earlier than expected. Even with the schedule change the Valley Girls came in confident and ready to play some ball. And that showed from opening pitch of pool play game one. The weekend was filled with great pitching efforts backed by outstanding defensive play.
Game one of pool play for Valley was against the North Coast Waves from the Sandusky area. The game started with the Valley defense sitting down the first three batter’s of the game. Zoe Johnson got the offense started in the bottom of the first with a double followed by a Kallie Regula sacrifice bunt to move Johnson over to third. Abby Warther came up with a single to drive Johnson in for the first run of the game. After a ground out, Amber Peltz and Annette Weston each reached first on singles. Weston’s single was able to get Warther home before the inning ended with a ground out. Inning two was played to a 1-1 tie and a 3-1 Valley lead.
However, in the third inning, the Waves bats got hot and found some gaps as they were able to score four runs to take a 5-3 advantage. The score would remain the same until the bottom of the fourth when the Valley Girls were able to strike back. With one down in the inning, Courtney Beckley got things started with a double into the left center field gap. After a deep fly out, Halli Blanchard came to the plate with two outs. She was able to work the count full and drew a walk as the lineup flipped to the top of the order. Johnson, who started the game off with a double was up to bat. On a 2-2 count, Johnson took the next pitch and drilled a hard fly ball over the left field fence for a three run home run and a 6-5 Valley lead. With time now expired in the fifth, the Waves were able to threaten the one run Valley lead. With one out and runners on second and third, Johnson made a diving grab on a hard hit ground ball, checked the runner on third and gunned down the batter heading to first and kept the one run lead intact. Now with two outs, Beckley walked the next batter to load the bases. She was able to redeem herself by creating a pop out to Stout at second base to secure the 6-5 Valley win to start pool play 1-0.
With a three hour break between games one and two the Valley bats cooled down as they were only able to muster a single hit the entire game en-route to a 6-1 loss to the Ohio USSSA Pride Blue. The team was able to bounce back with a 3-1 win over the Ohio Bulldogs Elite in the third and final pool play game.
Finishing pool play with a 2-1 record the Valley Girls needed some help from the North Coast Waves to lock up the number one seed. They got the help they needed as the Waves were able to get the win against the Ohio USSSA Pride Blue and securing Valley with the top spot in their pool.
Valley cruised through the first round with a 13-1 win. Round two turned out be an instant classic. Drawing the Ohio USSSA Pride Silver, the game went into four international tie breaker innings. In international tie-breaker rules, the offensive team starts with a runner in scoring position on second base and nobody out.
The game was played to 0-0 tie through two innings of play. Pride Silver scored first in the third and took a 1-0 lead. Valley tied the game up in the fourth as Weston drove in Kendrick from third with a single to left center field. In the fourth, Johnson gave Valley a one run lead with a solo home run over the left field fence. Pride Silver again brought the game to a tie in the sixth and the Valley girls were were unable to get a run in the bottom half with timed expired. The seventh inning was the first international tie breaker inning. Both teams scored their runner on second. Valley then held Pride Silver scoreless the rest of way.
Halli Blanchard starting the bottom of the tenth inning on second base for the Valley girls. Madison Kopp led off the inning and hit a single into left field to advance Blanchard to third as she hustled down to second on the throw back into the pitcher. With Johnson’s single and home run earlier in the game she drew an intentional walk this time around that loaded the bases with nobody out. Regula came up clutch and hit a hard grounder down the third base line that just barely stayed fair and into left field scoring Blanchard from third for a 4-3 win to send the team on to the semi’s. During the third and fifth inning and in the same spot in the Pride’s lineup the Valley Girls were able to stop two squeeze bunt attempts at the plate to keep themselves in the game.
The semi-final game was against the Ohio USSSA Pride Blue. The Valley Girls were pumped for rematch against the team who gave them their only loss in pool play. The girls were in attack mode the whole game as they were able to get paybacks by a score of 6-0. They scored a run in the second, two in the third and opened up the game in the fifth by adding three more to the scoreboard and securing their spot in the Championship game vs the Cobras 00.
The Championship game started with a bang as Johnson hit a hard fly ball to deep left center field that netted her a triple. However, after a strikeout, Johnson got too big of a lead and got picked off at third. The inning ended with a deep fly ball to center field. While holding the Cobras offense in check the Valley Girls threatened again in the third inning by loading the bases with two outs. The Cobras were able to get out of the jam with a strikeout. The next time Valley would threaten would be the sixth inning as they were able to load the bases again. This time with one out, it looked like Valley was gaining some momentum. But again, the Cobras were able to get out of the inning with no damage to the scoreboard. Jenna Stout hit a hard line drive right at the shortstop who made the catch and a quick throw to third to double up Peltz who was trying to get back to the third base bag. The Valley defense had not allowed a base-runner past second all game until the bottom of the seventh when the lead-off roped a triple deep to left field. The next batter up was able to get a shot in over the head of Stout at second and in front of the outfield to score the runner at third to get the win for the Cobras. This is the third time these two teams have met in as many weeks this season and every game has been a great battle. The Cobras hold the advantage with a 2-1 record in the series.
The Valley offense scored 33 runs on 54 hits. All 33 runs were a result of an RBI. The girls had 40 singles, ten doubles, one triple and three home runs. They had a team batting average of .310 and an on base percentage of .381. The Valley offensive attack was lead by Amber Peltz and Zoe Johnson as they combined for 21 hits, nine RBI and ten runs scored. Peltz led the team in batting average at .524. She also contributed ten total hits. Eight singles and two doubles with three RBI and three runs scored. Peltz also had an on base percentage of .550. Johnson was second in batting average at .524 and led the team in hits, doubles, triples, home runs and runs scored. She had a total of 11 hits, four singles, four doubles, one triple and two home runs for a total of seven extra base hits. She also contributed six RBI, seven runs and had an on base percentage of .583. Alexis Renner had six hits. Five singles, one double, three RBI and three runs scored. Jenna Stout, Annette Weston and Madison Kopp all had five hits each. Stout had four singles, one home run, six RBI and four runs. Weston had five singles, three RBI and three runs and Kopp added 5 singles, two RBI and a run scored. Abby Warther contributed four hits, three singles, a double, five RBI and four runs. Kallie Regula and Courtney Beckley had three hits a peice. Both had two singles, a double, two RBI and three runs scored. Halli Blanchard and Mackenzie Kendrick each added a single and a run. Blanchard also had one RBI.
Courtney Beckley pitched in 30 of the team’s 42 defensive innings. She faced 139 batters, threw 289 strikes, 172 balls for a total of 461 pitches. She had an ERA of 3.50, 16 total strikeouts with five of them looking and surrendered 32 hits. Beckley had three wins and was the pitcher of record in both of the team’s losses. She also had a save in the team’s semi-final game. After missing all of Saturday due to food poisoning, Mackenzie Kendrick came out Sunday and gave the team 12 strong innings. She got a win in both of her starts and a save in the game that went ten innings. She faced 46 batters, threw 101 strikes to 51 balls and only allowed one earned run for an ERA of 0.58. Kendrick also had eight strikeouts, gave up nine hits and walked only one. With the help of their defense the pitching staff had a combined opponent batting average of .253. The team gave up a total of 41 hits, 35 of those were singles, four doubles, one triple and one home run. The defense finished the weekend with a .963 fielding percentage.
The Valley Girls have a much needed bye week this coming weekend as they have played the maximum games available during the first four weekends. Valley’s next tournament is the Loudonville Invitational July 7th-9th. It has been a great start to the summer as the team has played in the Championship game in each tournament so far. They currently have a record of 2-2 in Championship games. For the summer the team has a record of 22-4 with three more tournaments to play in July.