BOULDER — Head coach John Corn’s pre-game message to the North Carolina Lady Lightning Gold-Team Miken players was simple. Big players step up in big games.
Prior to Sunday’s Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament 18U Louisville bracket championship game, cleanup hitter Kendra Lynch felt Corn’s words were directed at her.
“I knew that he expected a lot out of me to step up and get runners in because that’s been my job all season,” said Lynch, who will play at the University of North Carolina next season. “When he made the comment before the game, I knew that it was my job in the fourth spot. I took it personally and I just went out there swinging.”
Lynch went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs to lead a 9-0 victory over Houston Power-Korioth.
Each year, the top six teams from the Louisville bracket earn the opportunity to play in next year’s premier 18U Boulder bracket.
“We have a team camp in February and one of our goals was to finish top six here,” Corn said. “We have a great group of 2015, 2016 and 2017 graduates coming in. We wanted them to come in next year and experience the bigger event. It was our job to give them the opportunity and our seniors stepped up and accomplished it.”
The Lady Lightning gave starting pitcher Regan Green a little wiggle room with five unanswered runs in the first two innings. But Green didn’t need it, turning in a four-hit shutout before the Lady Lighting capped the run-rule victory after the fifth inning.
“It’s amazing for us to go 12-0,” Regan’s sister Logan Green said. “When you can score five runs in the first couple innings it’s such a relief for your pitcher because she doesn’t have to worry about giving up a hit or two.”
Against Houston Power-Korioth, the Lady Lightning continued the hot hitting that saw them belt out 12 home runs from Wednesday to Sunday. It also kept up the solid defense that allowed just four runs in six pool-play games.
University of Alabama-bound players Marisa Runyon, who finished the tournament with seven home runs, and Carrigan Fain led the 14-hit, five-double effort. The pair was a combined 4-for-7 with five RBIs against Houston Power-Korioth.
Table-setters Emily Heimberger and Cammy Pereira also were a combined 4-for-6 and scored five runs.
“We all really came together. It wasn’t just one person leading the team,” Runyon said. “We strung out hits together and played awesome defense and got awesome pitching. It was an excellent game.”
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi
NC Lady Lightning Gold — Team Miken 9, Houston Power — Korioth 0
At Stazio Ball Fields
NC Lady Lightning 230 22 — 9 14 0
Houston Power 000 00 — 0 4 0
W — R. Green. L — Sells.
NC Lady Lightning hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Heimberger 3-2-2-0, Pereira 3-3-2-1, Runyon 4-1-2-2, Lynch 4-1-3-2, Fain 3-0-2-3, Adams 3-0-1-1, Strouth 3-0-1-0, Perrell 2-1-0-0, R. Green 3-1-1-0, L. Green 0-0-0-0. Totals 28-9-14-9. 2B — Pereira 2, Fain, Lynch, Runyon.
Houston Power hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Vasquez 2-0-1-0, Bauer 2-0-1-0, Oretsky 2-0-0-0, Slovacek 0-0-0-0, Rivera 1-0-1-0, Garcia 1-0-0-0, Torres 1-0-0-0, Atkinson 1-0-0-0, Hostetler 1-0-1-0, Brown 1-0-0-0, Herrera 1-0-0-0, Bermodes 2-0-0-0, Silvas 2-0-0-0. Totals 17-0-4-0.
NC Lady Lightning pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — R. Green 5-4-0-0-1-5.
Houston Power pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sells 1/3-2-2-2-2-1, Atkinson 3 2/3-8-5-5-0-0, Hostetler 1-4-2-2-0-1.