by Bill Wilson
The Sandy Stealers bounced back from an opening-game loss to finish as the runner-up in the gold bracket at the Hillsboro Stadium Invite 12 B/C Softball Tournament held Friday through Saturday, June 23-25.
The Sandy Storm also had a solid showing, winning the silver bracket despite playing with the minimum nine players in the sweltering heat.
The Stealers, coached by Gary Copher, lost their opener 2-1 to the Hillsboro Thunder, then evened their record at 1-1 with a 4-1 win over the Tigard Blast. Teresa Joseph had two big hits up the middle, including one that knocked in the go-ahead run.
The Stealers, composed of first-year players at the 12U level, earned a spot into the gold bracket with a dominating 14-2 win against the Outrage in their final pool game.
The Stealers' Taylor Copher and Tamara Joseph each scored in the first before the Outrage tied the game in the bottom of the frame. But that's all the Outrage could manage and the Stealers took off from there.
Ashlynn Schmidt and Teresa Joseph each scored on passed balls to ignite a six-run second inning. Mackenzie Allen walked and went to second on a wild pitch before Emma Bird's near-perfect sacrifice bunt allowed Allen to race around third to score for a 5-2 lead.
Copher followed by smacking a hard grounder up the middle that got past the center fielder for a triple. She scored on a passed ball. After Jamie Martin walked, Tamara Joseph laced a stand-up double just inside the bag and down the third-base line to score Martin. Lainey Medley added a single into center that plated Joseph as Sandy reached the six-run limit for an inning.
The Stealers matched that effort in the third. Bird and Martin each had RBI singles in the frame while Schmidt and Tamara Joseph each dropped down bunts that led to two more runs.
Schmidt's bunt single scored Hanna Bolender for a 15-2 lead in the fourth. Schmidt stole third and scored on a wild pitch and the Stealers' set the Outrage down in order before the game was called due to the time limit.
The Stealers won Sunday's opening game in the gold bracket and took the momentum into the semifinals where they beat the Northwest Blast 11-7.
Sandy banged out four hits in the first for a 5-0 lead. Tamara Joseph ripped a two-run triple past the center fielder to plate Copher and twin Teresa Joseph. Megan Sherman and Medley also scored.
Allen led off the second by grounding a single back up the middle and later scored on an error. Tamara Joseph grounded a double just inside the third-base line to plate Teresa Joseph for an 8-1 lead. Tamara Joseph, who went 8 for 15 in the tourney, scored on a wild pitch.
The Stealers added single runs in the fourth and fifth for an 11-1 lead before the Blast closed the gap. A two-run single past diving shortstop Copher made it 11-7 but a runner got caught off second and Copher tagged her out to end the game.
The Stealers lost 9-3 to the Forest Grove Rampage in the championship.
The Storm also rebounded from a difficult start in their run to the silver bracket title. The Storm opened with a 5-2 loss to the Scappose Invasion then dropped an 11-2 decision to the Renegades. They beat the Oregon Silver Bullets 10-8 to place third in their pool.
The Storm opened the silver bracket by beating the Westside Diamonds 11-0. Bethany Drake had a triple and knocked in two runs, while pitchers Sarah Carpenter and Courtney Judd combined for the shutout.
Sandy used a thrilling rally to earn a berth into the title game. The Storm, which is coached by Chris Carpenter, fell behind 7-2 to the Tigard Blast before closing the gap to 7-6 heading into the final inning.
Anya Crea-Vance scored the tying run on a passed ball. With runners on first and third, the Storm drew a walk to load the bases. The Blast brought its outfielders onto the infield dirt, but Courtney Judd rendered the strategy useless after she raced home from third on a passed ball for the game-winning run.
The Storm followed with a dominating 17-5 win over the St. Helens Lions in the silver bracket championship game. Sandy scored four runs in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 12-4 lead. Pitcher Hannah Hill allowed three hits in three innings, while striking out four, and Sarah Carpenter finished off the game by giving up just one hit in the final two innings.