Guest Author - Traci Falb
Over the Fourth of July weekend, there was an incredible softball tournament in Northeast Ohio. The Orrville Firefighters have been putting on this tournament in Orrville, Ohio for the past ten years, to coincide with the Fourth of July festival, 5K run, and other activities from July 2nd through July 6th. This year, the tournament ran a day late because of a rainout Saturday evening.
There were sixty softball teams there this year from five different states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The teams, consisting of girls 14 and under, played at least four games during this five-day event, three of which were played before the single elimination tournament on one of ten different fields. Although our family didn't get to see all the games, we really enjoyed watching the games of these talented girls.
We printed off a schedule of the games and followed the ones we wanted to see. There was usually a lot of action going on, so if we got up to grab a bite to eat, we usually missed something. For example, on Thursday, we watched Ohio Glory 99 Navy play against Wizards Elite. During the first two innings, Ohio Glory 99 Navy scored five runs; Wizards Elite had zero. The score remained the same until the fifth inning. We decided to check out the food vendors. When we returned, the score was 5-5. Wizards Elite had come back and tied. The last batter had hit a home run with another girl already on base. We kept our eyes on the game after that. At their next at bat, Wizards Elite again had one runner on when another girl hit a home run. The final score was 5-7 and everyone watching agreed that it was an awesome game to see.
Another game we watched was between the Ohio Hurricanes Burk and the Ohio Storm 98. Both teams were very good. The Ohio Hurricanes scored four runs while Ohio Storm had zero. There were two different times I thought Ohio Storm got a bad call made on one of their plays but I was in no position to judge from where I was standing. I was in between home plate and first base, at the top of the bleachers. Both times the coach lightly protested the calls but they were not overturned. One involved the opposing team's coach out of the first base coach's box and in the way of a play. The first baseman had to run around him to get the ball because he was right beside the base. The two umpires did not see what happened and it was therefore dismissed. There were no hard feelings and it did not take anything away from the game. (This was also not a tournament game, so it did not affect their standing.) It was around the fifth inning and the score remained the same. There were excellent plays made by both sides and one girl in particular, from the Ohio Hurricanes, was the fastest running softball player I had ever seen. Once we saw her run to first, we kept track of her the rest of the game. No doubt, she has certainly stolen many bases in her career so far. We left before the end of the game but later learned that Ohio Storm scored four runs before the end of the game, tying it up and probably entertaining the crowd.
The two teams in the final tournament game came down to the Louisville Lady Sluggers and the Ohio Classics 99. We arrived in the third inning, with the Ohio Classics leading 3-0. Much of the game was defensively controlled, with neither team scoring again until the seventh inning. Both teams were evenly matched, not letting the other advance. We learned the catcher for the Louisville Lady Sluggers hit a home run the previous game on the first pitch of the first inning. She was the one, in fact, who hit one deep to left field, getting on base the last inning. She stole second, was replaced with a runner, who then scored when someone else hit. The game ended shortly after that, with no one else scoring. It was a great game to watch and as we were leaving, saw both teams presented with their trophies while their pictures were taken.
The Ohio Classics 99 received paid entry to the ASA Eastern Nationals in the Class A games and the Louisville Lady Sluggers received entry to the ASA Eastern Nationals in the Class B games. Good luck to all the teams who participated. If you would like to see all the excellent teams or find out more information about the great tournament that is put on every year, go to http://www.orrvillefireinthesky.com/14u-tournament-information.html.