The Wheelersburg LL softball team faced their biggest challenge Friday afternoon in their matchup against Bacolod City West LL (Philippines). Heading into the bottom of the sixth, Burg was down 2-1 with the middle of their lineup coming to bat. Their bats came alive in a rallying effort in that half inning, and thanks to a dropped ball by the second baseman for Bacolod City that was ultimately ruled as a hit, Burg scored a run and tied the game when all hope had seemed lost.
The game then went into extra innings where the Wheelersburg girls were victorious by a final score of 3-2, thanks to excellent pitching from AndiJo Howard, and the game winning RBI hit from Maddi Kotcamp. Kotcamp finished the game with the only two RBIs among the players for Wheelersburg.
“Facing a challenge was huge for us” said Burg head coach Dusty Salyers, “Not only facing a challenge, but finding a way to come out on top. It wasn’t pretty, but a wins is a win and I’ll take it. Hopefully this can kind of spark our girls.”
This game was one with multiple story lines. One of the main ones being the great pitching and defensive efforts from Bacolod City that prevented Wheelersburg from driving in most of their runners in scoring position early in the game. “I’m going to give a lot of credit to their pitcher” said Salyers, “She was VERY good. I don’t remember her making a mistake the entire game. She puts the ball where she wants it and is a very difficult pitcher to hit. When we had runners in scoring position, it felt like she took it up another level.” For the game, Wheelersburg left a total of ten runners on base.
A hit to centerfield by Bacolod City and an error at third base allowed two runners to score giving them the lead 2-1. After that hit, the pitching for Bacolod City would retire eight straight batters heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ashlee Spence, who started the game on the mound for Wheelersburg, showed incredible control other than the hit that gave Bacolod City the lead, 2-1. In her six innings on the mound, Spence only allowed two earned runs and four hits.
In extra innings, it was a stalemate thanks to AndiJo Howard’s outstanding pitching abilities. In her three innings on the mound, Howard had eight strikeouts while only throwing thirty pitches.
Burg had ten hits total in the game against Bacolod City. Leading the way in hits was third baseman Sydney Skiver with three hits. Pinch hitter Emma Smith had two hits in her three appearances at the plate. Sydney Salyers also had two hits in Friday’s game. Rileigh Lang and Maddi Kotcamp had one hit a piece. “Skiver, Kotcamp, Smith and Salyers all had good games” said Salyers, “Skiver and Kotcamp have been hot all through the tournament and just continue to hit well. I was very proud of Emma Smith. She had a great day and drove in the biggest run of the year. It’s not easy to come in off the bench and do that. Salyers had two hits, hit the ball hard very hard a third time and the third baseman made a heck of a play to get her out. Then she had the sace bunt to move the winning run into scoring position. Overall it was a great team win!”
Wheelersburg is still undefeated so far in postseason play, outscoring their opponents by an astounding 102-4 run differential after Friday afternoon’s 3-2 victory. Burg sits atop the standings of Pool B alongside Eastbank LL from River Ridge, Lousiana. The representatives of the southwest regional are also 2-0 so far into pool play.
Burg will go on to face Lake Oswego LL, the representatives from Oregon district four on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST, and then Eastbank LL, the representatives from the Southwest region, on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. EST. After Sunday’s final games of pool play, the top eight teams from both pools based on record and run differential will be seeded into a single elimination tournament that will determine the 2018 Little League Softball World Series champion.
Anyone interested in watching any of the Wheelersburg LL games this week can go to ESPN Plus, which is ESPN’s online streaming service, and watch any of the games in Portland if you subscribe to the service. Some of the games in the later stages of the tournament will be featured on the main ESPN channels on television.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT