An energized defense and timely hitting combined to earn the WA Force Black its first-ever championship title after two consecutive victories against the Washington Patriots in the 16U ASA A-Division state softball tournament Sunday at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex.
The Tri-Cities squad posted a 6-3 win against the Patriots in the semifinal and a 3-1 victory in the championship rematch. Pitcher Kayla Andrews proved key to the Force Black victories, as she struck out six Patriots in the first game and three in the second.
Kayla was phenomenal, Force Black coach Casey Emery said. She pitched every inning in the 100-odd degrees.
April Utecht had three RBIs in support of Andrews in the first game, and Stephanie Merwin provided a double and an RBI.
The Patriots dropped down to the consolation bracket, where they handed the WA Angels 96 a 5-0 loss that both capped the Angels journey with a third-place finish and earned the Patriots a ticket into the finale.
And in the rematch, Utecht hit a go-ahead two-run single that scored Merwin and Reilly Bramlett as it snapped a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth.
Utecht then scored on a Kadi Patterson single to put Force Black up 3-0 against the Patriots, whose bats were no match for Andrews, as she gave up only three hits and no earned runs in the victory.
Force Black advances to the 16U Class A ASA Grand National tournament, scheduled for July 30-Aug. 5 in Montgomery, Ala.
And in Sundays consolation bracket action, Nicolette Nesbitt struck out five over six innings and Emily Benson and Janelle Randles had an RBI apiece as the Angels opened with a 4-3 win over the Spokane Crash.
Randles proved key in the next win, a 5-1 victory against the Spokane Mud Hens, as she struck out eight and scattered two hits over the distance to keep her team alive for the game against the Patriots.
The Angels earned their way into Sundays final rounds with an 11-2 win Saturday night against Ellensburg Synergy. Randles struck out six and gave up three hits over five innings while Nesbitt, Richards and Hunter Schneitter backed her up with two RBIs apiece.
WA Force Black 3, WA Patriots 1
WA Patriots 000 000 1 1 3 0
WA Force Black 000 030 0 3 11 1
E. Gott and Radach; Andrews and Tollison. HighlightsMerwin 1x4, R; Utecht 2x3, R, 2 RBI; Patterson 3x3, RBI; Nunez 2x3; Alicia Maul (Richland) 1x3, R; Andrews 7IP-3H-0ER-3K.
WA Force Black 6, WA Patriots 3
WA Force Black 101 012 1 6 16 2
WA Patriots 210 000 0 3 10 2
Kayla Andrews (Richland) and Danielle Tollison (Southridge); Jessica Gott, Erica Gott (6) and Tressa Radach. HighlightsWFB: Stephanie Merwin (Richland) 3x4, 2R, RBI, 2B; Reilly Bramlett (Richland) 3x3, R; April Utecht (Richland) 2x4, 3 RBI; Kadi Patterson (Hanford) 2x4, R, 2B; Maddy Jones (Richland) 2x3, RBI; Victoria Nunez (TC Prep) 1x1, R, RBI; Andrews 7IP-2ER-1BB-6K.
WA Angels 4, Spokane Crash 3
Spokane 001 020 0 3 10 0
WA Agnels 002 200 x 4 9 4
WA Angels 5, Spokane Mud Hens 1
Spokane 000 000 1 1 2 3
WA Angels 001 211 x 5 8 1 WA Patriots 5, WA Angels 0
WA Patriots 113 000 0 5 3 0
WA Angels 000 000 0 0 6 5