July 3 2012
When the So Cal Diamonds were playing Corona Angels, and lost 10-0, manager Paul Graziano came on the deck to inform that the pitcher who had just entered the game was Katie Barbarick, who had just turned 13. While Graziano was justifiably proud the youngster showed promise, other travel ball people around Spy were of two minds. One line of thought was that, in a losing cause, when the outcome was no longer in doubt, give a young pitcher some experience against a veteran Angels team. But, others longed for the old tradition of playing within your age group, and held that Barbarick should be playing 14U. Others said giving roster spots to players that young denied exposure to older players. This argument is at least 10 years old, when HS freshmen, even grade-schoolers, started appearing at major tournaments. Spy believes that girls should play no more than one step ahead of their age group. Given the increased competitiveness at 14U and 16U, girls will get plenty of experience. Yet, several rosters were sprinkled with 2016 players; the Vienna Stars had two 14-yr olds and a 15. The Corona Angels had two 2015s; so did a number of other teams. Great early exposure, but at what opportunity cost?
At the same time, we remain opposed to early verbals. The 2013 class is almost a year from graduation, yet coaches are agreeing to verbals to 2014 and 2015 players. Most players in those age groups are still developing – as players and maturing teens. Some such as 2015 Nicole Joseph of the Diamonds (Cal), Mari Cranek TX Magic (Alabama) demonstrated they are already playing at a high skill level. But, if NCAA would adopt a tougher standard on early verbals, especially through unofficial visits, it just might reduce the number of transfer and wannabe transfers who simply were not mature enough to make a decision which would affect the rest of their lives – beyond softball.
Boulder showcased a large number of 2013 and 2014 players who have not committed – and an equally large number from these classes who have. Several college coaches said they appreciate an early look at those coming up in later years. Spy’s response: look but do not touch.
SOME GAME NOTES
Given the late hour at which pools finished, Spy struggled to report all the scores, usually finishing at 1am, and did not provide traditional Spy notes on pool games.
Minnesota Irish vs American Athletics. Haley Davis jacked a 3-run homer.
East Cobb Bullets 9, Pure Fastpitch 2. Summer Secrest (Columbia) relieved for Pure; showed a variety of offspeed pitches. 2013 Sam Martin started for ECB; relieved by 2015 Kelly Barnhill. College coaches around Spy agreed that Barnhill could crack open a Mosler safe with her hard 70mph pitches, but also agreed she crow-hops on many pitches. Can rack up strikeouts in double digits, but, like all hard throwers, can be hit when movement and location fail, as they did in another game. We were Impressed in every ECB game by 3rd base player Lexi Overstreet (Tennessee) who poled a 3-run homer in this game. Molly Child (Anderson) drove in 2 runs.
Explosion 7, Tampa Mustangs 0. Carly Mortenson (Pacific) started for Explosion, until relieved by Sara White (2014 Notre Dame). Couldn’t resist noting that on Explosion flyers, coach Bret Denio bills himself as “Mr. Softball.” Has anyone told Phil Bruder he has been de-throned?
So Cal Athletics 7, Vipers 0. SCA’s were leading 3-0 when Kaylea Snaer drove in a run, Darian Tautalafua scored on a passed ball, and Jessica Plaza racked a 2-run homer.
So Cal Athletics 9, USA Athletics 2. Madison Schreyer (Stanford) pitched. Kaylea Snauer (South Carolina) hit a 2-run bomb; Delanie Gourley (Florida) slugged a 3-run shot.
Team North Florida 8, So Cal Diamonds 4. TNF was leading 8-1 late when 2012 Victoria Franks jacked a 3-run homer.
Batbusters 4, NJ Intensity 0. Very good game by pitcher Nancy Bowling (Arizona).
NJ Inferno 4, Houston Power 2. Bitter cold; last game Friday night. The entire Meister family helps manage this team – Don coaches, Donald (yes, he of the striped pants) and daughter Karen assist, mother Maryanne keeps score, while Nicole frequently helps and Grandmother oversees every game. In this contest, Mackenzie Thompson (2013) pitched for Inferno, Gabby Gonzales for Power. Trailing 2-1 in their final at-bat, Inferno’s Leah Allen (Kent State) belted a 3-run homer. Cold enough to do vasectomies on polar bears.
Vienna Stars 8, So Cal Diamonds 4. Perhaps the best game the Stars played. Alexis Sargent (Penn) started; relieved by Taylor Neuhart (Lipscomb). The Diamonds started their 2016, 13-yr old, Katie Barbarick, who was relieved by 2013 Megan Hardisty when the score was 4-4. Hardisty gave up an rbi to Jessica South (Towson), two runs scored when Kjana Sherlund reached on an error at 3rd; Taylor Thorpe (Georgia State) drove in a run, and McKall Miller (Providence) capped the scoring with a final rbi.
Team North Florida 8, TX Impact Gold 1. Carly Hoover pitched for TNF; Cori Cooper for Impact.
Polar Crush 7, Voodoo 6. Lot of memories flashed by, watching Katie Brignac pitching, the sister of ULL star Ashley. Voodoo’s Caitlin Carroll homered; Taylor Terrio doubled in 2 runs. But Polar Crush was also seeing the ball. Taylor Carbone ,Chelsea Caynon and Chelsey Drew had rbi hits; Jacklyn Dubois had 3 rbi.
AZ Hotshots 5, CALady Magic 4. The law of unintended consequences caught up with the Magic – which won a long ago championship with pitching stars Jolene Henderson (Cal) and AllyCarda (UCLA). Starter Sydney Shipley kept the Hotshots away from the plate while her team built a 4-0 lead. Magic changed pitchers; whatever softball future Zoe Conley desires won’t be achieved by putting pitches down Broadway. The Hotshot tied the score at 4-all, then won the game – via eight hits and two walks off Conley. In their final at-bat, five Hotshots reached base consecutively. Bases loaded, the winning run scored on an error at short, the last of two which hurt the Magic.
GA Southern Force 4, IL Chill4. Several proud poppas watching young sisters of graduated stars, none more so than Univ of Georgia assistant coach Gerry Glasco watching Geri Ann pitching for Southern Force.
CA Choppers vs GA Southern Force. Brittany Hitchcock pitched for Choppers; Megan Betsa pitched for Force.
So Cal Athletics 7, Atlanta Vipers 1. SCA’s Darian Tautalafua grand slam.
NJ Intensity 5, VA Shamrocks. Although the Shamrocks belted AZ Hotshots Gold 13-2 in the final game of Pool E, perhaps their best performance was in this loss which pitted Tori Finucane (Missouri) against Jordan Weed and then Taylor Weaver. In the 3rd, Alexa Hernandez singled; and scored on Erica Field’s single to center, which prompted Intensity to bring on Weaver. Ashley Panetta’s rbi cut the New Jersey lead from 4-0 to 4-2. An inning later, Hernandez doubled to center, and, an out later, Brittanie Gasser tied the game with a 2-run shot. Intensity, which had built that lead with the help of five Shamrock errors in the first two innings, broke the tie in their final at-bat. Hailey Smith walked. One out, Jessica Calvin singled to right. Two out, Corey Schwartz drove in the winning run. The feeling among several observers is that, but for the errors, the Shamrocks outplayed Intensity and would have won. A sad farewell; after the Shamrocks were eliminated, coach Jim Bracken, an All American in his playing days, informed Spy that he was retiring as coach. We go back 16 years in Shamrock history.
Batbusters 8, Shamrocks 0. Nancy Bowling pitched for BBH, Tori Finucane for Shamrocks. Finucane kept the eventual champions in range of the Shamrocks until the 5th when a 2-0 Batbuster lead skyrocketed to 5-0 on a 3-run homer by #44 Katiyana Mauga (Arizona).
Batbusters vs So Cal Athletics, Championship. The winning hit was by Brittany Moeal (UCLA).
Spy sidebar: we were disappointed how few college coaches remained and coaches of teams who had been eliminated remained on Sunday. Gold nationals and other key tournaments have the same experience. One of the few exceptions was the game at Barber when the So Cal Athletics defeated the Worth Firecrackers for the Premiere championship. Of course, that game was in southern California and it was convenient for many teams to remain until the end.