BEAVERCREEK — Uncontested and undeterred.
Playing their first game action of the summer two weeks prior after a spring filled with uncertainty, the Crush Fastpitch 03 travel softball team claimed the 2020 USSSA Ohio South State Championship hosted in Beavercreek with an undefeated 6-0 record against their competition.
Of their 11-player roster, six members of Crush Fastpitch are from Scioto County, four hail from neighboring Greenup County, Ky., Lawrence County, Ky. and Pike County (Ohio); and one player is from River Valley High School in Bidwell.
Representing Scioto County on Crush Fastpitch are Clay’s Megan Bazler, Northwest’s Haidyn Wamsley, Portsmouth West’s Nataya Richards and Sydney McDermott, and Wheelersburg’s Jenna Brabson and Jaiden Missler.
Waverly’s Emma Bellaw, Coal Grove’s Rylee Harmon, Greenup County’s Shaeleigh Moore and Emma Boggs and River Valley’s Sierra Sommerville comprise the remainder of the Crush roster.
In their 6-0 undefeated run to capturing the state championship, Crush outscored their opponents 58-16 — including in their 9-5 championship game win over the Montgomery County Hammers.
The bats indeed came to play, said coach Kane Bazler.
“Offensively we stepped it up this past weekend. The previous two weekends we had been struggling hitting the ball consistently,” Bazler said. “We had gotten better each game, but just had not been hitting like we were used to doing. With players missing out on high school ball and not being able to practice as a team before the season started, it has taken the hitters longer to catch up with the pitching. Our pitching has been solid the last three weekends and we have been just waiting for the girls to hit like we know they can.”
During the six-game stretch, each of the Crush team members drove in at least one run while Bellaw led with a team-high 12 RBI.
Wamsley drove in 11 in her 21 plate appearances also.
In the circle, Brabson led the team with 13.2 innings pitched, surrendering just one earned run and striking out nine.
McDermott threw for 11.2 innings pitched, surrendering just two earned runs and striking out a team-high 13 batters.
As a team, Crush hit for an average of .407 and crushed a total of 13 home runs — five from Bellaw, three from Bazler, four from Wamsley, and one from Moore.
After a spring and early summer filled with cancellations of sports at every level, including each of the Crush team members’ high school seasons, Bazler acknowledged how strong his team had come into the early summer season, despite not much interaction with their teammates even as of a month ago.
“Tournaments that were scheduled early during the season have been either cancelled or were rescheduled for late summer or early fall. We knew playing in the fall was a possibility, but I don’t think any of us knew for sure that we would get to play this summer,” Coach Bazler said. “We have 11 girls on the team that represent eight different schools in Scioto, Lawrence, Gallia and Greenup counties. They see each other competing for their respective high schools during the season but with it being cancelled and the team not being able to practice, they haven’t seen much of each other. But they have come together pretty quickly as a team.”
Now the Crush squad must look onward to the USSSA Southeast National Championships hosted in Hendersonville, Tenn. — just outside of Nashville.
Teams joining the Crush in Hendersonville will be flocking to Tennessee from towns in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Texas, Virginia and other states.
For his team to continue its winning ways and have a good showing on the national stage, Bazler says they’ll need to show the same resiliency showcased during their semifinals and championship game wins in Beavercreek.
“The team needs to continue focusing on the little things and having the confidence that they can beat anyone,” Bazler said. “As coaches, we are confident in the girls’ ability to keep fighting. They showed grit fighting back this weekend in both the semifinals and championship. Down 4-0 in the last inning in the semifinals to come back and win and then down 5-0 in the championship game and come back and win. It’s that composure and confidence that will fuel them through Nationals.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved