When you schedule softball tournaments in late October you never know what kind of weather you are going to see. Rain, sleet, snow and windy are your typical options for a late Ohio October Sunday. But this weekend the Valley Girls had a beautiful sunny day that saw temperatures reaching 75 degrees and Valley took advantage of the weather.
With 15 teams entered in the ASA/USA Fall Chiller 16U Eastern National Qualifier and it being a one day tournament, the girls knew it would be a long day if they wanted a chance to bring home another championship. And a long day it was. With the first pool play game being scheduled at 8am, the girls needed to be at the park by 6:45 for pregame warmups, and didn’t see there day end until approximately 8:45 later that night.
The early day, two hour drive and not seeing any live pitching since the middle of July were all contributors to Valley’s slow start in their first pool play game vs Vikings Elite. Valley showed promise as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The quick start would make it no further as the Vikings were able to come away with a 3-1 win and Valley started the weekend 0-1.
Valley had a one game break between pool games where they were able to get a little food and review their game one performance. The goal for the day was to build on each performance and they wanted to see progressions from inning to inning, each at bat and game to game. The girls did just that as they started to get back to form throughout the course of the day. They were able to rip off four straight wins to earn themselves a chance to compete for the Championship.
Game two of pool play was against the Wizards Renegades 16u team. The Wizards had first at bat and struck first taking a 1-0 lead before Valley responded in the bottom of the first with two runs of their own. Penelope Cantu got the inning started with a hard hit grounder followed by a Kallie Regula Single that saw Cantu hustling all the way to third causing an errant throw by the first baseman. Cantu scored on the errant throw and Regula advance to second. Regula would advance on a ground out and then score on a hard hit single by Amber Peltz. The inning would end with Valley on top 2-1. Valley added two more runs in both the 3rd and 4th innings.
The third inning started with Zoe Johnson drawing a walk and stealing second on the first pitch of the next at bat. Cantu was able to hit another single advancing Johnson to third. Cantu then took second base on the first pitch of Regula’s at bat. Regula laid down a beautiful sacrifice squeeze bunt that scored Johnson from third and advanced Cantu from second. Cantu scored from third when the catcher tried to pick her off but made an errant throw into left field.
Wizards were able to cut the deficit to 4-3 by scoring two runs of their own in the top of the fourth. In the bottom, the Valley Girls were able to take advantage of a couple of errors by the Wizards short stop as Alexandrea Edwards and Courtney Beckley were both the beneficiaries of a bobbled ball and a bad throw that landed them on second and third. Maleah Stansberry then came to the plate and delivered a two run single to push the score to its final at 6-3.
The first three bracket games were won by scores of 7-2, 8-3 and 7-2. Bracket game one was against the Central Ohio Vipers. Bracket game two was against the Ohio Slam Force. This game was won by the girls having two big four run innings in the first and fifth innings.
Cantu got the team started in the top of the first by beating out an infield single. Regula followed that up with a single of her own advancing Cantu all the way to third. Regula then stole second base. After Alexis Renner got hit by a pitch, Peltz came to the plate with one out and bases loaded. With Valley putting the pressure on early, Peltz found herself in a one ball, two strike count and delivered with a hard hit curving line drive that landed just fair down the right field line earning her a three RBI triple and a 3-0 early lead. Johnson was brought in as a courtesy runner for Peltz. On the next at bat Alexandrea Edwards executed a perfect push bunt squeezing Johnson home from third and landing her safely on first pushing the first inning lead to 4-0.
The Ohio Slam Force kept fighting and cut the score to 4-2 after four innings of play and time expiring. Going into the top of the fifth Valley wanted to add an insurance run or two to release some of the pressure. They responded with four more runs and took total control of the game. The inning started with Cantu hitting a line drive single and advancing to second on a passed ball. Regula then trying to put down a sacrifice bunt to move Cantu to third found herself reaching first safely with a bobble by the second baseman. Regula added another stolen base on a fake bunt attempt.
After a big triple in the first inning, Peltz came back to the plate with runners in scoring position again and she delivered again with a two RBI single and her fourth and fifth RBI of the game. Edwards followed that up by reaching on an error and Beckley was able to advance both Peltz and Edwards with a ground out. Maleah Stansberry comes to the plate and drills a hard line drive single that scores both base runners and giving Valley an 8-2 lead. Slam Force added one more before the game ended with a score of 8-3.
The third bracket game was the Semi-Final and a rematch from the first game of the day. Valley got their payback on the Vikings Elite with a 7-2 win that sent them onto the Championship game.
The Championship was played against a great hitting Ohio Chill team that dominated their games all day. They mercied everyone they faced except for an 8-2 win coming into the Championship game. They won their Semi-Final game by a score of 9-0 over the Ohio Lightning who just took second place at the 14u USSSA National Championships in Chicago back in July. They girls fought hard the whole game but were unable to string enough hits together to produce any runs in a 5-0 loss and the Ohio Chill’s closest game of the day.
After spending close to 15 hours at the park, having three new faces on the team and playing without another player due to a concussion, the Valley Girls learned that they have a great foundation to build on.
For the weekend, the girls hit for a .329 team batting average. They scored a total of 29 runs with 25 of them being earned. Valley ended the weekend with 51 total hits, 41 singles, six doubles and four triples. With help from their defense the pitching staff of Courtney Beckley and Mackenzie Kendrick surrendered a total of 18 runs, 14 of them earned for a combined ERA of 2.88. They also combined for 19 strikeouts and 15 batters walked. They ended the weekend with giving up 41 hits and an opponent batting average of .299. The defense committed just five errors and finished with a .965 fielding percentage.
The trio of Halli Blanchard in left, Cantu in center and Regula in right stayed busy all day as they kept the outfield in check by chasing down just about every fly ball hit to the outfield and snagging a few in foul territory. Not only did they make some great catches, but they also made some amazing throws resulting in three double plays, a nice relay from deep center field to short to third robbing a triple and a catch and throw home by Regula in right field resulting in another double play on the runner heading home after tagging up.
Amber Peltz also had a great day behind the plate as she toughed out catching five of the six games played.
Leading the Valley offensive attack was Kallie Regula with a .667 batting average, 10 hits, eight singles, one double and one triple along with five RBI and five stolen bases. Cantu also contributed 10 hits, had a batting average of .556, eight singles, one triple, an RBI and two stolen bases. Amber Peltz was able to keep her bat hot from summer as she finished with a .438 batting average, had seven hits, six singles, a triple and a team leading eight RBI. Alexandrea Edwards had a solid day with a .357 batting average , five hits, four singles, a double and an RBI.
The other contributions came from Zoe Johnson with five hits, fours singles, a double, an RBI and two stolen bases, Beckley had four hits, three singles, a double and two RBI. Maleah Stansberry and Alexis Renner had three hits apiece. Stanberry ended with three singles and four RBI and Renner had a single, two doubles and two RBI. Halli Blanchard and Mackenzie Kendrick each had two hits with two singles. Blanchard also had an RBI.
All in all it was a long but great day of softball for the Valley Girls. With a good all around performance the coaches were extremely pleased with the progressions the team made throughout the day and are excited to get back on the field this coming weekend. The Valley Girls improve their 2017 record to 36-10 and their overall record to 89-36-1.