BOULDER — The Beverly Bandits have nabbed plenty of accolades in their history of coming to the Boulder Independence Day Tournament. And as prestigious as two Boulder IDT titles may be, 18U Gold head coach Bill Conroy always believes it’s a springboard for nationals for his team.
While the Premier Girls Fastpitch national title has still managed to elude the Chicago-based program, the feeling in the dugout is that streak may end this summer.
And why not? The Bandits possess four 2013 Gatorade Players of the Year in their respective states — ranging from Illinois’ Abby Ramirez to Georgia’s Megan Betsa. Another winner, Ohio’s Jenna Lilley, is a veteran of the squad and Carly Hoover also won the honor in South Carolina.
Oh, and by the time the Bandits reach the PGF National Championships in August, they’ll have back on their team Ellie Cooper, an infielder who is playing on the New Zealand national team after graduating this year from Rockwood Summit High School in Missouri.
It’s an amazing collection of players, and on Saturday they began their quest for another IDT crown as bracket play began. In their first game at the Stazio Ballfields, they beat the So Cal Sliderz (Sundale, Calif.) 9-0 behind Betsa’s dominating performance in the circle.
“I think we have the talent to (win nationals) and when we’re at our best … I think we have that potential,” said Lilley, who will graduate from North Canton Hoover High next spring and head to the University of Oregon. “I think we need to take things one game at a time, one pitch at a time. That’s what it comes down to.”
“I think it’s the best team we’ve had, talent-wise, and we’re really determined,” added Ramirez, a Michigan recruit in her final season with the club. “We have a lot of goals.”
It was Ramirez who secured the team’s last title in Boulder, that coming in 2011. Conroy surely remembers the details, and Ramirez only hopes her team can be in the title game again after finishing third last year. The Bandits also won in 2007.
“It was an unbelievable play that she made, and the other team wins if she doesn’t,” Conroy said of a Ramirez double play that preserved a 6-5 win against the Batbusters of California. “Abby is a special player for me. I would say I have a core of kids that are close, I mean, she is one of my babysitters. I always have kids some kids that are special, and Abby is certainly one.”
“I remember everything about it because it was the best play I’ve ever made in that kind of situation. I remember how it feels, and I just want that feeling again, to win it all,” added Ramirez.
It’s a long road to the championship, though. After beating the All-American Sports Academy (Calif.) in their second game (5-0), the Bandits still had a third contest late Saturday night. And two more would await Sunday in order to reach the final. Those final games will be played at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., with the championship set for 1 p.m.
The win against the Sliderz set a nice pace. Betsa, who just joined the team on Monday, struck out 10 while allowing just two hits and three total baserunners in the five-inning blitz. She ran into a little trouble only in the third inning, but with runners at first and second and one out she struck out consecutive batters to end the threat.
By then, her team was up 4-0 already and they added to it in the fourth and fifth frames. Taren Alvelo had a two-run single in the first and added another RBI single in the fifth, and Brooke Wyderski (Loyola commit) smacked a two-run home run in the fourth.
“It felt really good because I played good the first game (on Wednesday) and then had a rough day Thursday and just wasn’t at my best,” said Betsa. “It was good to get myself back up and show them what I can do.”
While Betsa ended the tournament run for the Sliderz, another Gatorade Player of the Year halted the Colorado Stars Gold team in their second game of Saturday’s bracket play. Texas Aces Express pitcher Samantha Show, a to-be senior, held the Stars to a pair of hits and struck out eight in a 4-1 victory. It was a tight contest throughout as Stars pitcher Logan Losh (Strasburg High) wiggled out of trouble a few times.
But, when the Stars needed a quick inning with time running out, the Express managed an extended sixth that resulted in the win. The Stars made the second round by beating the Texas Blaze 9-2 on Saturday morning, and they finished the tournament with a 4-3-1 mark.
“It was nice to come out and win the first game because we struggled a little bit during pool play. It was nice to come out and get the bats going,” said Silver Creek grad Shelby Keil. “(Show) was really good, I’ll give that to her. She has good pitches and it surprised us because we hadn’t really faced any pitchers that threw as hard as she was. It was hard to (adjust).”
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Boulder Independence Day Tournament
Beverly Bandits 9, SoCal Sliderz 0
At Stazio Ballfields
Bandits 400 23 — 9 9 1
Sliderz 000 00 — 0 2 0
W — Betsa. L — Kister
Bandits hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Ramirez 3-2-2-0, Steward 3-1-1-0, Alvelo 3-2-2-3, Minihan 0-0-0-0, Lilley 1-2-0-0, Tsirigos 2-0-1-0, Cavin 1-0-1-2, McGuire 1-1-1-1, Bishton 0-0-0-0, Wyderski 2-1-1-2, Doane 2-0-0-0, Beach 1-0-0-0, Betsa 2-0-0-0. Totals 21-9-9-8. HR — Wyderski. SB — Ramirez, Minihan, Lilley, Beach.
Sliderz hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Romero 2-0-0-0, Canseco 2-0-0-0, Kister 2-0-0-0, Lotito 2-0-0-0, Cribbs 2-0-0-0, Mendoza 2-0-1-0, Metcalf 3-0-0-0, Mendoza 2-0-0-0, Troxell 1-0-1-0, Ellis 1-0-0-0. Totals 0-0-0-0. 2B — Mendoza.
Bandits pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Betsa 5-2-0-0-0-10.
Sliders pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Kister 4.1-9-9-2-5, Thayer 0.2-0-0-0-0-0.
Aces Express 4, Colorado Stars Gold 1
At Stazio Ballfields
Colorado Stars 000 010 — 1 2 2
Aces Express 200 002 — 4 8 2
W — Show. L — Losh
Stars hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Kilcrease 3-0-0-0, Good 3-0-0-0, Paulson 3-0-0-0, Mintz 3-0-1-0, Keil 2-0-0-0, Biaggi 3-0-0-0, L. Harper 2-0-0-0, Williams 2-1-1-0, Reichmuth 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-1-2-0. SB — Kilcrease.
Stars pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Losh 5.2-8-4-4-0-1.