Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Softball: Athletics-Mercado, Bolts Advance To PGF 16U National Finals (8/3/18)

Athletics-Mercadofrom left to right: Sara Kinch, Makayla Jordan and Shannyn Bustamante. Photo/Mike Martinez.

By MICHAEL J. MARTINEZ

Athletics-Mercado earned a spot in the PGF 16U Premier championship game with a 1-0 win over Georgia Firecrackers-Sewell.

The Athletics went through the bracket undefeated in six games but were certainly tested with four of the six decided by two runs or less. The other two were games of 7-4 and 15-10.

Their opponents on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine will be the undefeated team from Bracket B, Birmingham Bolts-Dorsett.

Georgia-commit Britton Rogers of the Georgia Firecrackers was able to match zeros with LMU-commit Shannyn Bustamante of Athletics-Mercado for three innings but back-to-back doubles by Sara Kinch and Makayla Jordan plated the only run of the contest in the bottom of the fourth.

“I was the first batter,” said Kinch, “so I just had to get on to get the dugout pumped and get the energy going.”

“I wanted to get her in,” said Jordan of her RBI at-bat. “I wanted to get everyone pumped up and get the run in so we had a good chance of winning.”

As it turned out, Jordan’s hit was the last for the Athletics. Lindsey Hendrix relieved Rogers after the run scored and pitched the final 2.2 innings perfect.

But Bustamante, who has tagged with Landyn Bruce to pose a formidable 1-2 pitching punch late in the week, had plenty left to take it home. Bustamante shut out the Firecrackers on five hits with only two strikeouts.

Three of the last four Athletics’ opponents scored one run or fewer this week.

“I was hoping we’d get more runs but winning is all that matters,” Bustamante said. “Sometimes one is enough. The umpire was giving us a little bit off (the plate), so I just worked away, away and my defense was really good out there.”

A two-out Athletics’ error extended the game in the seventh inning, but only for one more batter as Bustamante induced a pop-up on a bunt and Kinch squeezed it behind the plate to send the Athletics to the Saturday final.

Birmingham Thunderbolts-Dorsett players from left to right: Alicyn Grete, Kassidy Wilcox and Shelby Lowe. Photo/Mike Martinez.

Shelby Lowe continued her stellar pitching this week and the Birmingham Bolts-Dorsett advanced to the PGF 16U Premier championship game with a 4-1 win over Texas Bombers-Jones in the other semifinal.

The Bombers managed nine hits off Lowe, but could never strike big. Lowe, an Auburn-commit, only surrendered an unearned run in the sixth inning. By then the Bolts had a 3-0 lead. And the Bolts’ offense got the run back in the bottom half of the inning before Lowe shut the door with one more zero in the seventh.

“The girls have come out and played well,” Bolts coach Keith Dorsett said. “They’re doing great right now.”

Army-commit Alicyn Grete gave the Bolts the lead in the second inning, driving in EC Taylor.

“I’ve actually been hitting kind of bad all week, so it was nice to come in clutch when we needed it,” Grete said. “The good thing is, with this team, you don’t have to worry about not getting on because you know someone else will come right behind you and pick you up.”

South Alabama-commit Kassidy Wilcox banged a two-run double in the fourth for a 3-0 Bolts’ lead.

“I was just going up there hitting,” Wilcox said. “I don’t really think about it. I just hit the ball.”

Having pitched with leads all week, Lowe and her defense did the rest. She struck out seven Bombers.

“It’s been really fun (this week) because we’ve gotten ahead and it’s a lot easier to pitch when you’re in the lead,” Lowe said.

“Counting pool play games, I think she has six shutouts (at PGF),” Dorsett said. “The kid’s unreal, so we just got to get her back, get her iced and get her ready for tomorrow night.”


In the last of the elimination games:


Texas Bombers-Jones 10, Impact Gold DFW-Middlebrook 9 (8): In a game with 28 hits, Ashlee Larue delivered the last and put the Texas Bombers in the Final Four. Larue’s single to right gave the Bombers a win in eight innings over Impact Gold..

Impact Gold needed a five-run fifth inning and a throw to the plate in the bottom of the seventh just to make it to the extra frame.

Jaden Middlebrook’s RBI capped the rally in the fifth inning that had Impact up 8-7.

That lead lasted to the last of the seventh when Camille Corona (3 for 3 with three runs) singled to center to bring in tying run Alexis Lara with two out. Madison Weber also came around trying to score on the play and end the game, but Mackenzie Denson made a perfect throw home to nab Weber and end regulation tied, 8-8.

Georgia Firecrackers-Sewell 13, Demarini Aces-Taylor 6 (6): The Firecrackers used three four-run innings to eliminate the Demarini Aces in six innings.

The Firecrackers offense of 13 runs on eight hits was aided by the Aces, who issued eight walks and were charged seven errors in the game.

Mia Cantu hit a home run and Makenna Segal drove in four runs for the Firecrackers. Lindsey Hendrix and Maggie Darr combined to get the 18 outs to advance Georgia.


In earlier winner’s bracket games:


Birmingham Bolts-Dorsett 2, Georgia Firecrackers-Sewell 1: Hannah Borden’s two-run home run in the sixth inning propelled the Bolts to victory.

Borden’s homer helped Lowe win a pitchers’ duel with Georgia’s Britton Rogers. Lowe struck out nine in a three-hitter. Rogers pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts.

“I got out both my at-bats before (the) sixth inning,” Borden said. “We’d all struggled with (Rogers) the whole game, so I thought, ‘We don’t have anything to lose, we just got to hit the ball.'”

Lowe, an Auburn-commit, finished strong, retiring 12 of the last 13 Firecrackers’ hitters.

“(Firecrackers-Sewell) has seen me before, so I knew they’d respect my rise ball. I had to bring it down, so if they didn’t swing, it would still be a strike at the top of the zone.”

After Borden’s go-ahead shot, Makenna Segal nearly answered for the Firecrackers in the bottom of the sixth. But her deep drive to left was caught just in front of the breakaway fence, preserving the Bolts’ lead.

“I thought it had a chance (to go out), but the wind was blowing in,” Lowe said.

The Firecrackers took a second-inning lead on a steal of third and an error. That run put the Bolts in a rare position this week — trailing on the scoreboard.

Being in a close game, Borden said, “felt good, but really nerve-wracking because we weren’t really hitting the ball.”

Borden’s sixth-inning bomb changed that in a big way.

Athletics-Mercado 7, Impact Gold DFW-Middlebrook 4: Kinch’s first-inning grand slam jumped the Athletics to an early advantage and Aynslie Furbush’s strong relief effort carried the Athletics over the Impact Gold. Kinch’s slam came after a pair of errors and a walk.

“I was just trying to stay calm,” Kinch said of her slam. “I was just thinking hit the ball hard.”

The Athletics added three runs in the top of the second, which proved important when Impact Gold put up three runs in their half of the second to chase Athletics starter Landyn Bruce.

That brought in Furbush, an Ole-Miss commit. Furbush settled in quickly, allowing just one run and three hits over 5.2 innings in relief.

“I just kept throwing it in there and hitting the zone,” Furbush said.


PGF NATIONALS SCOREBOARD


FRIDAY, AUG. 3, RESULTS


16U PREMIER


WINNER’S BRACKET A


FIFTH ROUND


Athletics-Mercado 7, Impact Gold DFW-Middlebrook 4


WINNER’S BRACKET B


FIFTH ROUND


Birmingham Bolts-Dorsett 2, Georgia Firecrackers-Sewell 1


LOSER’S BRACKET A


SEVENTH ROUND


Easton Preps 11, Blaze-Bonola 2

Texas Bombers-Jones 4, Beverly Bandits-Tyrell 3


EIGHTH ROUND


Texas Bombers-Jones 9, Easton Preps-Hansen 2


NINTH ROUND


Texas Bombers 10, Impact Gold DFW-Middlebrook 9 (8)


LOSER’S BRACKET B


SEVENTH ROUND


Hotshots-Dumezich 5, Universal-Garcia 4

Demarini Aces-Taylor 8, Premier Fastpitch-Paulson 5


EIGHTH ROUND


Demarini Aces-Taylor 8, Hotshots-Dumezich 6


NINTH ROUND


Georgia Firecrackers-Sewell 13, Demarini Aces-Taylor 6 (6)


SEMIFINALS


Athletics-Mercado 1 Georgia Firecrackers-Sewell 0

Birmingham Bolts-Dorsett 4, Texas Bombers-Jones 1

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