It was an afternoon filled with nail-biting moments and phenomenal softball. The tension and excitement was nearly tangible in the air as the OC Batbusters and Marucci Patriots took the field to warm up for the 16U championship game at the USA Elite Select World Fastpitch Championships.
Both teams were feeling some sort of pressure. For the Batbusters, the other teams within their organization had swept all of the other age divisions, and now 16U remained. The 16U OC Batbusters – Lastrapes felt the call to live up to the excellence of their organization and finish the job.
The Marucci Patriots were facing a different sort of pressure. They fought their way out of the loser’s bracket to make it to the championship game today, including having to win two straight yesterday. The pressure was on to continue that positive momentum they had built up, especially as a relatively new organization.
Despite the pressure, both teams were energetic and relaxed as they took the field for the start of the game.
The Patriots were the first to strike with an RBI double from Kennedy Page, putting one on the board in the top of the first. They add another in the top of the second, making it a 2-0 ballgame. But the Batbusters were not phased by the early runs, as they came alive in the bottom of the second. Samantha Dees launched a three-run homer to put the Batbusters ahead, 3-2.
The third proved to be a quick inning as both teams displayed efficient defense and strong pitching. The Batbusters put up another run on a sac groundout to make it 4-2. The Patriots ended the half with a strikeout from pitcher Shelby Wickersham. The fourth was a 3-up, 3-down top half for the Batbusters, and a bottom half that resulted in the Batbusters tacking on another run off of a sac fly. The Patriots effectively handled several bouncing hoppers this inning to produce outs at first.
It was getting to be mid-game, and the Patriots knew they needed to answer the offense of the Batbusters with something of their own. After a walk put two runners on, the Patriots scored one on an overthrow from third to first. Kelsey Miller stepped in the box and cranked out a double to left, bringing in two runs. Suddenly, the battle had taken a new turn as the scoreboard had evened, 5-5.
For the remainder of the game, both teams played tight defense. The next three innings went scoreless, as the tension began to mount. Soon, the game was sent into extras, and both pitchers were battling for their teams.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Batbusters were looking to muster up something extra to take home the championship. It didn’t start out in their favor, as the runner at second was tagged out right away. Then a walk put a runner on first. A bunt was laid down, and the Patriots weren’t able to make a play. With two on, one out, Teah Thies stepped in the box. All it took was a line drive into the gap in left and the game-winning run came in.
The OC Batbusters – Lastrapes took the championship walk-off style, 6-5.