Girls spark at Firecracker tourney
To kick off a week of nonstop softball, the Summit County Silver Strikers girls’ fastpitch softball team spent their weekend doing — what else? — playing softball.
The high school club team spent Friday and Saturday participating in the Firecracker Tournament in Salt Lake.
Friday brought mixed results with a 6-4 loss early in the day to the Salem Skyhawks followed by a 5-4 win againstthe Diggers. That put them up against a top team from Utah County in the evening.
The girls were shut out by the Utah County Crush in the night game 8-0. The loss sent the girls to the consolation bracket, meaning they would have to fight their way back on Saturday to place well in the tournament.
The next day the Silver Strikers faced the Salem Skyhawks, the same team that they had lost to 5-4 the day before.
The girls knew that they could beat the Skyhawks but still came out flat in the first inning, quickly going down 3-1.
The team didn’t give up though, scoring one run in the third.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth inning, the tide turned. A walk from Chellsea Winterton and a hit to right field from Jessica Seright put both girls on base. Then, Kalee Chester came through for the Silver Strikers with a bunt. The angle of the bunt threw off the Skyhawks and the ball was overthrown to first base. The error sent Winterton home. Aundrea Hargroder then hit a fly ball to right field, bringing Kalee home and putting the Silver Strikers ahead 5-4.
"There’s so much energy and talent," said Kalee. "I couldn’t ask for a better team."
The team was able to hold the Skyhawks in the top of the sixth with three consecutive outs to hold on for the win.
"It was nuts," said third baseman McKenzie Woolstenhulme after the win. "That was an adrenaline rush. Coach was pumping us up. We never gave up."
She added that being able to stay competitive in close games and hang on for the win is one the skills they need to master heading into the Triple Crown World Series Tournament this week.
"This is good because it lets us know what it feels like to get down and come back up," Woolstenhulme said.
"This is why they’re playing," said Silver Strikers head coach Scott Chester. "So they know how it feels to come back to win the game. That’s also what they’re taking back to their high school teams."
Silver Strikers’ pitcher Sydney Gibbs gave up only three hits in the game, including one earned run and nine ground outs in six innings.
"That’s good pitching," Chester said. "That’s keeping the ball in the hands of the girls."
Unfortunately, the girls were not able to win the next game against the Salt Lake Black Ice, losing 11-2 and ending their run in the Firecracker Tournament.
Despite ending their run in the tournament, the girls were pleased with their effort as they prepared for the Triple Crown World Series games in the coming week.
"I think this was a really good prep for us," said Woolstenhulme.
Kalee Chester agreed.
"This tournament is building us up for something we’ve never seen before," she said. "We are so excited. There isn’t one girl who isn’t stoked to play."
All of the girls were looking forward to the week’s action after a summer’s worth of preparation.
"For a lot of us, this is a dream come true," Woolstenhulme said. "We thought it would never happen and now it has happened."
The girls will be back in action this week in the Triple Crown World Series 16-and-under B Division. The team will face the Colorado Wrath at 1:15 p.m. and the Scottsdale Heat at 4:15 on Wednesday at the Oakley Softball Complex. For end-of-the-week game times and more information on the team, visit http://www.eteamz.com/silevrstrikers.
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Court report: Week of June 22