The first one might have been more majestic, but the second was more memorable for Kylie Lundberg of the So Cal Athletics 18U softball team on Sunday afternoon.
Lundberg’s line drive home run in the bottom of the sixth inning flew just over the top of the makeshift fence at the Stazio Ballfields in the championship game of the Boulder Independence Day Tournament Louisville 18U Bracket, but her whole team was able to meet her at home plate and celebrate in grand fashion all it took to win the highly touted tournament.
The A’s completed a 10-1 run through the tournament with a 6-0 win against the same team they first matched up against on Wednesday — the Newtown (Pennsylvania) Rock Gold 18U squad coached by Joe Garvey. Lundberg nailed a three-run homer in the third inning, too, and that was more than enough for pitcher Sarah Costlow.
With the win, the A’s will get the chance to play in the Boulder bracket of the IDT next year.
“We came a little nervous, but we just put everything we had out there and I’m really proud of my team for that,” said Lundberg, an Oklahoma commitment who will be a senior at Lakewood (California) High School. “I’m proud of our pitchers because they came through, and I’m proud of our defense because it was solid.
“The experience here was actually amazing, and I’m happy that we’re coming to (the Boulder bracket) next year. That’s what we wanted.”
After getting clipped pretty hard on a play at first base in the top of the third inning — a play which resulted in the third out for Newtown — Lundberg got a chance to bat in the bottom of the frame after teammates Erin Sustayta and Malia Martinez had already driven in runs. Not so much frustrated as energized, Lundberg crushed a Maddy Witchey pitch well over the right field fence to make it 5-0.
Rock reliever Megan Stauffer held the A’s in check until Lundberg batted to open up the bottom of the sixth inning — and she promptly ended it with the solo shot. Tournament rules dictated a six-run mercy rule after five innings.
“Once I actually saw it go out, I that it was kind of cool,” Lundberg said, her team forced to leave right away to catch an airplane back home. “(The play at first) got me pretty hyped up. They said sorry, and I know it’s just part of the game, but it did get me hyped.”
For Garvey, the run Newtown made to the final game signified big steps in the program. They went 3-2-1 in pool play, but outscored opponents 26-6 in single-elimination play leading up to the title game.
The Rock had chances to get on the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth innings but just couldn’t get the key hit they needed. Amanda Kulp, Sara Ercolani and Olivia Francomano each had two hits for Newtown in the loss.
“We were a little out of gas when we got here, and I wasn’t sure how we were going to respond,” said Garvey, whose team includes players from New Jersey, New York and Virginia. “We responded great, the kids came alive. To us, second is great because our goal was to get to (the Boulder bracket) next year. I think we gained some respect as a program.”
Semifinalists Team Long Island (New York) and the Desert Thunder (Arizona) also earned spots in next year’s Boulder bracket, as did California Batbusters Dave and Missouri Esprit.
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So Cal A’s 6, Newtown Rock Gold 0
At Stazio Ballfields
Newtown 000 000 — 0 8 0
So Cal 005 001 — 6 8 1
W — Sarah Costlow. L — Maddy Witchey.
Newtown hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Amanda Kulp 3-0-2-0, Ashley Lew 3-0-1-0, Sara Ercolani 3-0-2-0, Courtney Hankins 3-0-1-0, Nicole Rounsavill 3-0-0-0, Brigette Nordberg 3-0-0-0, Paige Warfel 3-0-0-0, Reva Alderman 2-0-0-0, Olivia Francomano 2-0-2-0. Totals 25-0-8-0.
So Cal hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Raeanne Martinez 3-0-2-0, Erin Sustayta 2-1-1-1, Malia Martinez 3-1-1-1, Aniesa Maulupe 3-1-1-0, Kylie Lundberg 3-2-2-4, Lulu Vasquez 2-0-0-0, Sabrina Quarles 2-0-0-0, Aiyana Leal-Robles 1-1-1-0, Yari Felix 2-0-0-0. 2B — Sustayta. HR —Lundberg 2.
Newtown pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Witchey 3-5-5-5-1-1, Megan Stauffer 2-3-1-1-1-0.
So Cal pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Costlow 6-8-0-0-0-4.