LONGMONT — If there is one thing Bri Workman is always going to be telling the softball players she coaches, it’s that she wants to see them play to make a play.
Thursday afternoon on the second day of the Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament, the Colorado Stars 16U team she heads took that message to heart.
Appearing much more relaxed even though they were facing a tall task in the California Batbusters-Martinez, the Stars used some stellar defense and hard knocks at the plate to score a 6-1 victory — their first in pool play at the prestigious national tournament.
“I tell them all the time, you can’t play afraid and you’ve got to want to play to make a great play,” Workman said after the Stars produced seven hits and no errors in the field. “Instead of being nervous about making a mistake, be excited to do something great. I think we really did that today.
“In a game like that against such a strong team, you’ve got to be able to make plays. Doing that is what kept the momentum on our side, and we turned that around when we went to bat.”
The Stars-Workman finished 0-2 on Wednesday, falling hard in the first game before coming up just short on a rally in their second contest. But switching from the Centennial Park complex to Garden Acres was a convenient way to start fresh, and the squad certainly did that.
With Brittany Phillips (Arvada West High School) in the circle, the team started off getting the Batbusters down in order, and then scored the first run of the game when Erie’s Lynsey Bauchert tapped a single to left field to score Phillips in the bottom of the first inning.
It stayed a tight game until the fourth frame when the Stars broke through for three runs, and it was the defense that kept them in it. Phillips fielded her position brilliantly, while a catch from Parker Dannenberg (Legacy High) in center field with runners on base in the second inning ended a threat.
Jordyn Ebner and Tiffany Vigil also made standout defensive plays, but even routine plays from the infield added up.
“We expected them to be a very good team, so I think that helped us bring out our own intensity,” said Ciarra Nelson, who is transferring to Legacy from Erie after moving this summer. “We regrouped from yesterday and wanted to help each other. We were kind of intimidated entering this tournament, but the more we play and keep close scores with them, the more we feel we can be right there.”
“I think the last tournament we only had eight players that could actually play because of all the injuries we’ve had, so (Wednesday) was a little about adjusting to our pick-up players,” said Amanda Kowalski, who plays for Longmont. “We ended on a good note and we picked up from there today. The energy (of playing the Batbusters) helped us relax and get into ourselves.”
With a few more important pool play games still on the docket, it was important to get going at the plate, too. Only one spot in the lineup did not reach base in some fashion, and the five combined runs in the fourth and fifth frames were not without some big blasts.
Nelson hit a triple in the fifth to make it 5-0, and then Bauchert drove her in with a hard base hit to deep left field to score Nelson. Bauchert finished 2 for 3, Dannenberg was also 2 for 3, and Jazmin Means (Holy Family) walked twice and scored a run.
“They were just working as a team, which is really exciting,” Workman said. “I know how strong that organization is, so to see the way the girls came out and played against them, it’s awesome.”
The Stars played the Magic out of Texas late Thursday and will finish pool play on Friday against the Sundancers (New Mexico) and Athletics (Arizona).
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Colorado Stars-Workman 6, Batbusters-Martinez 1
At Garden Acres Park (Game 1)
Batbusters 000 001 — 1 6 1
Stars 100 32x — 6 8 0
W — Brittany Phillips. L — Megan Thorpe.
Batbusters hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Mia Gomez 2-0-0-0, Madisson Christine 2-0-1-0, Kayla Taylor 2-0-0-0, Madison Germano 2-0-1-0, Jayden DeMoss 1-0-1-0, Emily Sevilla 2-0-0-0, Gabrielle Estrada 2-0-0-0, Jeweliana Menchaca 2-1-1-0, Andrea Wood 2-0-1-1, Alexis Hierro 1-0-0-0, DeMoss 1-0-0-0, Taylor Roberts 2-0-1-0. Totals 21-1-6-1.
Stars hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Bella Bravo 2-1-0-0, Audrey Kobi 1-0-0-0, Brittany Phillips 3-1-1-0, Ciarra Nelson 3-1-1-1, Lynsey Bauchert 3-0-2-2, Parker Dannenberg 3-1-2-0, Jazmin Means 1-1-0-0, Tiffany Vigil 2-1-1-1, Rachael Schroll 2-0-1-1, Casey Wagner 0-0-0-0, Amanda Kowalski 2-0-0-0. Totals 22-6-8-4.
Batbusters pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Thorpe 3-2-1-1-1-3, Kelly O’Toole 1-3-3-2-1-0, Thorpe 1-3-2-2-2-0.
Stars pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Phillips 6-6-1-1-0-1.
Texas Magic 9, Colorado Stars-Workman 1
At Garden Acres Park (Game 2)
L — Phillips.
Stars hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Bravo 2-0-0-0, Kobi 2-0-0-0, Phillips 2-1-1-1, Nelson 2-0-0-0, Bauchert 2-0-1-0, Dannenberg 2-0-1-0, Means 2-0-1-0, Vigil 2-0-0-0, Schroll 2-0-0-0, Wagner 1-0-0-0. Totals 19-1-4-1.
Stars pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Phillips 4.1-11-9-7-4-0, Vigil 0.2-2-0-0-1-0.