Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2005

Tonganoxie Braves clinch World Series berth

July 7, 2005

Tonganoxie Braves 16-and-younger softball coach Craig Lohman knows when to push all the right buttons.

Going into the Kansas City USSSA Miken Super NIT World Series Qualifying Tournament at Johnson County Girls Athletic Association June 24, Lohman wasn't the only member of the team who knew what was at stake. But he was the one who took the opportunity to remind the rest of the team what was up for grabs.

The winner of the tournament would receive one of 12 berths to play in the 2005 USSSA Fast Pitch Elite World Series at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex Aug. 5 to 9.

Lohman's game plan was to wait and see how his team would respond to the weekend's competition. Then he reminded De Soto sisters Roxanne and Veronica Grizzle and the rest of their teammates of the stakes at hand.

"Their eyes just lit up," he said of the moment when they realized just how close they were to qualifying for the biggest prize in USSSA fast pitch softball. "Then it was time to play ball."

De Soto's James Grizzle, who is the remainder of the Tonganoxie coaching staff, said the Braves entered the tournament after qualifying for it through a tournament they had competed in earlier in the year.

"It wasn't really on our minds," he said. "It wasn't until we were undefeated and in the championship game that it dawned on us that we had a chance."

Tonganoxie opened the weekend's action with a 3-1 victory over the Kansas City Shockwaves and a 2-0 shutout of the eventual runner-up Missouri Heartbreakers. Following the two pool-play wins, the Braves finished Saturday's first day of competition with a 2-0 championship bracket victory over the Explosion from Carl Junction, Mo.

The Braves guaranteed themselves a spot in the championship match of the double elimination tournament Sunday with a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Originals.

With that win, Tonganoxie forced the Heartbreakers to win two straight games over the Braves in order to clinch the championship. The team from across the border won the first match, 4-3. But the Braves put the handcuffs on their rivals with a 5-0 thrashing and won the rights to play in the World Series in the second game.

"I don't know why it is, but we seem to play nervous in the first game," Grizzle said. "Then it's like the weight comes off of our chest in the second game. We relax and play ball. Then, before we know it, we're up five runs."

Grizzle said the Braves pounded everybody in their first tournament of the year and then had lapses in their next two tournaments. But now, he said, the Braves are back.

"Right now we're playing our best softball," Grizzle said. "We're playing together as a team and getting that camaraderie. We know each other. We know when and where our teammates are going to be."

Against the Shockwaves, Tonganoxie scored a couple of runs in the third inning on back-to-back singles by Amy Thies and Tracie Hileman. Both runners scored in the inning when catcher Melissa Pratt reached base on an error.

Amie Riddle scored an insurance run in the sixth inning when she was credited with a single and two stolen bases. She came home on Jessie Whitledge's two-out single. The Shockwaves avoided the shutout in the seventh inning on a lead-off double and a single.

In the Braves' first win over the Heartbreakers, Roxanne Grizzle knocked in the winning runs in just the fourth at bat of the game. After Hannah Herrstrom cranked out a one out single and Pratt followed with a walk, Grizzle pounded a one out double to score the runs.

Against the Explosion, Tonganoxie registered a run each in the first and sixth innings to score a second straight 2-0 triumph. Hileman led off the game by getting hit by a pitch, and then scored on Roxanne Grizzle's triple.

Grizzle also scored after being hit by a pitch with one out on the board. After stealing second, Grizzle scored on Whitledge's single.

The Braves finally wiped the dust off the bats in their fourth game of the tournament when they out scored the Originals, 5-2. The champions tallied four of those runs in the second inning when they sent 10 batters to the plate.

Riddle, Whitledge, Ashlee Lohman and Veronica Grizzle scored in the inning off a single, base on balls, single and another single, respectively. Veronica Grizzle, Hileman, Pratt and Roxanne Grizzle collected RBIs in the inning. Hileman scored a run in the fourth inning after earning a lead-off base on balls. She stole second and third base and then scored on Herrstrom's single.

The Originals scored a run in the third inning on a back-to-back two out triple and a single. They scored in the fifth inning on a lead-off error and a triple.

In the first championship contest against the Heartbreakers, the Braves scored in the first, third and seventh innings. Herrstrom, Pratt and Lohman each scored a run. Roxanne Grizzle, Pratt and Amy Thies collected RBIs. Pratt earned hers when she belted an enemy pitch over the wall in center field.

The Heartbreakers scored a run each in the first inning and then rallied for three more in the fifth frame. The opposition's big inning started with a lead-off error. Then back-to-back doubles and a fielder's choice provided the difference in the game.

The Braves jumped out 5-0 after two innings in the championship game and never looked back. Roxanne Grizzle scored two runs in the game. Riddle, Pratt and Sami Rush scored as well.

The Braves are scheduled to play in a tournament in Basehor this weekend before participating in the state tournament next weekend. Tonganoxie must play in the state tournament if it wants to participate in the World Series.

The rest of the World Series field will be set from Super NIT Tournaments played in California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Indiana.

with a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Originals.

Tonganoxie forced the Heartbreakers to win two straight games over the Braves in order to clinch the championship. The team from across the border won the first match, 4-3. But the Braves put the handcuffs on their rivals with a 5-0 thrashing and won the rights to play in the World Series in the second game.

"I don't know why it is, but we seem to play nervous in the first game," Grizzle said. "Then it's like the weight comes off of our chest in the second game. We relax and play ball. Then, before we know it, we're up five runs."

Grizzle said the Braves pounded everybody in their first tournament of the year and then had lapses in their next two tournaments. But now, he said, the Braves are back.

"Right now we're playing our best softball," Grizzle said. "We're playing together as a team and getting that camaraderie. We know each other. We know when and where our teammates are going to be."

Against the Shockwaves, Tonganoxie scored a couple of runs in the third inning on back-to-back singles by Amy Thies and Tracie Hileman. Both runners scored when catcher Melissa Pratt reached base on an error.

Amie Riddle scored an insurance run in the sixth inning when she was credited with a single and two stolen bases. She came home on Jessie Whitledge's two-out single. The Shockwaves avoided the shutout in the seventh inning on a lead-off double and a single.

In the Braves' first win over the Heartbreakers, Roxanne Grizzle knocked in the winning runs in the fourth at bat of the game. After Hannah Herrstrom cranked out a single and Pratt followed with a walk, Grizzle pounded a double to score the runs.

Against the Explosion, Tonganoxie registered a run each in the first and sixth innings to score a 2-0 triumph. Hileman led off the game by getting hit by a pitch, and then scored on Roxanne Grizzle's triple.

Grizzle also scored after being hit by a pitch. After stealing second, Grizzle scored on Whitledge's single.

The Braves out scored the Originals, 5-2, in their fourth game of the tournament. The champions tallied four of those runs in the second inning.

Riddle, Whitledge, Ashlee Lohman and Veronica Grizzle scored in the inning off a single, base on balls, single and another single, respectively. Veronica Grizzle, Hileman, Pratt and Roxanne Grizzle collected RBIs in the inning. Hileman scored a run in the fourth inning after earning a lead-off base on balls. She stole second and third base and then scored on Herrstrom's single.

The Originals scored a run in the third inning on a back-to-back two out triple and a single. They scored in the fifth inning on a lead-off error and a triple.

In the first championship contest against the Heartbreakers, the Braves scored in the first, third and seventh innings. Herrstrom, Pratt and Lohman each scored a run. Roxanne Grizzle, Pratt and Amy Thies collected RBIs. Pratt earned hers when she belted an enemy pitch over the wall in center field.

The Heartbreakers scored a run each in the first inning and then rallied for three more in the fifth frame. The opposition's big inning started with a lead-off error. Then back-to-back doubles and a fielder's choice provided the difference in the game.

The Braves jumped out 5-0 after two innings in the championship game and never looked back. Roxanne Grizzle scored two runs in the game. Riddle, Pratt and Sami Rush scored as well.

The Braves are scheduled to play in a tournament in Basehor this weekend before participating in the state tournament next weekend.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.