All week long, David Baker’s watched his team produce the timely rallies it needed regardless of whatever deficit it faced.
So even as Friday night’s game against the Oklahoma Athletics drifted to the later innings with the 14U Blue Springs-based Originals trailing by four runs, Baker and his players held out hope that a final push would materialize in the semifinal game of the United States Specialty Sports Association Girls 14U Fast Pitch World Series Tournament.
And the Originals did indeed mount a last-inning charge. With two outs, Sierra Meyer doubled and Aubrie Munoz drew a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. But that’s as far as the rally got as the Originals fell 4-1 at Adair Park.
“This team does not give up,” Baker said. “That’s one thing I don’t even have to ask from them. They battle by themselves. We’ve just got to come out tomorrow and hopefully we can win two games and walk home with a nice big trophy.”
The Originals do still have a shot at winning the championship, but will have to get past the Heri-canes 98 (Okla.) Saturday morning and then win two of three from the Athletics.
“And we can do it,” Baker said. “This team’s won four, five, six games in a row before – all in one day.”
The Originals started the day with a dramatic 1-0 triumph over the Clutch Hitters (Minn.) in a game that ended with a bit of controversy. The Originals took the lead in the top of the sixth as Lee Dellenbaugh drew a walk and later scored on Callie Martin’s RBI double.
In the seventh, Originals starter Reagen Kanagawa hit the first batter she faced and the tying run advanced to third after a stolen base and fielder’s choice.
Then, with one out, Kanagawa coaxed another grounder to third baseman Celine Armstrong. Armstrong hesitated, trying to look the runner back to third before throwing to first baseman Madisen Kanagawa to narrowly nip the runner at first. On Armstrong’s throw, the runner at third dashed toward home but Kanagawa gunned her down at the plate. As the Originals celebrated, the Hitters’ protested the call at first.
Reagen Kanagawa picked up the victory in the first game by tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out six.
In the second game, the Athletics plated two runs in the first and one each in the fourth and fifth before the Originals got on the board with Madison Crosslin’s run-scoring double in the sixth. Crosslin reached twice in the loss and stole a base. Meyer also reached three times.
Even as the Originals were down to their last out, Martin said she never lost faith after seeing her team score several come-from-behind victories earlier in the tournament – including a four-run comeback in Thursday night’s 11-7 win over the Columbia Storm.
“I’ve learned that you can never tell what’s going to happen during the game,” Martin said. “Anything’s possible.”
And even though the odds seem stacked against them going into Saturday, the Originals maintain that their confidence is still unbroken.
“We always come back and end up doing something,” Crosslin said. “I think tomorrow’s going to be a good day.”
Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC