BOULDER — The past two weeks have been long and certainly mentally taxing for the Team Mizuno Stith 18U softball team. But, they finally flew home on Sunday from Denver back to southern California with a little extra baggage.
And, after her team won the 18U Boulder bracket of the Independence Day Tournament, outfielder Amanda Lorenz wanted nothing more than to go back home.
“It’s really exciting. We’re just really excited to go home now; finished business,” Lorenz said Sunday at the Stazio Ballfields after Team Mizuno defeated the San Jose Sting 9-0, completing a dominant run through the bracket. “We were just really focused, wanting to get runs each and every inning.”
After Kaylee Carlson got the final out in the fifth inning of the title game, the Mizuno players walked out onto the field with smiles but no shrieks of overwhelming joy, almost as if they had been in the situation before. And, they have, coming off an Invitational championship on June 29 at the 2013 Team New Jersey Summer Classic.
Lorenz, like quite a few of her teammates, was also on the 16U team that won their bracket in Boulder in 2012. They went on to win the Premier Girls Fastpitch Nationals.
“We’re really close (as a team), so we knew what we had to do,” Lorenz said.
“These tournaments mean a lot, but we really want to elevate their expectations,” added coach Mike Stith of the squad’s business-like approach. “You want to enjoy winning, but we want to teach them that this is what they’re supposed to do. We want them to expect things like this. But they are humble kids, so they won’t go crazy when they win.”
Six of the girls in Sunday’s lineup were on the 16U team last year. Lorenz and Justine McLean kept their top-of-the-order standing this summer and were key elements of Sunday’s win, combining to go 5-for-6 with three runs. However, Team Mizuno tallied 15 hits in four innings, shedding light on how they scored 52 runs in the six bracket games.
“We couldn’t fool them with anything. You can tell, we didn’t get them to strike out and they were just hitting everything,” Sting coach Bob Perales said. “But we got here (to the finals) and we’re very happy with the results this week.”
For the Sting, the second inning really put a damper on their championship aspirations. Trailing 2-0, the Sting loaded the bases with just one out on a pair of walks and a single. Jacqui Prober’s bunt hung in the air and spun in fair territory like a top, forcing out Mia Monopoli at home plate, and Carlson struck out Emily Raspo to end the threat. Mizuno added two more runs in the bottom of the inning — one on a Lorenz double — and did not relent in the third and fourth.
For the game, Sashel Palacios went 1-for-3 with a two-run single; Alyssa Palomino had two hits and two RBI’s; and Taylor Lockwood also had two hits, a steal and an RBI from the No. 9 hole.
“There’s three aspects to the game, pitching, defense and offense, and whenever something was struggling we had another thing to back it up with,” said Lockwood, a to-be senior from Louisiana in her first year with the club. “For me, that’s what I do is just get on base and score runs if I need to.”
“They can hit, it’s just getting over that mental hurdle when you’re tired and you’ve played a lot. Getting them to focus on what they need to do, and they’ve done a good job,” Stith said. “Taylor’s work allowed us to extend our innings and get our hitters up. She got one base twice with two outs, and I think it led to four runs. She’s grown with us, for sure.”
Team Mizuno beat the Beverly Bandits 4-1 in the semifinals, while the Sting beat The Next Level (California-based) 5-1 completing a nice run to the championship game.
Follow Adam on Twitter: @adunivan24
Boulder Independence Day Tournament
18U Boulder bracket championship game
Team Mizuno 9, San Jose Sting 0
At Stazio Ballfields
San Jose Sting 000 00 — 0 3 3
Team Mizuno 222 3x — 9 15 0
W — Carlson. L — Reynolds.
San Jose Sting hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Clark 2-0-0-0, Borello 2-0-1-0, Geranen 2-0-0-0, Monopoli 1-0-0-0, Perales 2-0-0-0, Tyler 1-0-0-0, Convissar 1-0-1-0, Cymrot 1-0-0-0, Prober 1-0-0-0, Sabala 1-0-1-0, Raspo 1-0-0-0, Mandracchia 1-0-0-0. Totals 16-0-3-0. 2B — Sabala.
Team Mizuno hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Lorenz 3-2-2-1, McLean 3-1-3-0, Spaulding 3-0-1-0, Palomino 3-1-2-2, Wheaton 3-1-1-0, Swearingen 3-2-2-1, Palacios 3-0-1-2, Flippen 2-1-1-0, Lockwood 3-1-2-1. Totals 26-9-15-7. 2B — Lorenz. SB — Lorenz, Lockwood.
San Jose Sting pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Reynolds 4-15-9-7-1-0.
Team Mizuno pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Carlson 5-3-0-0-2-4.