XPlosion finishes third at national tourney

Peaking at the right time, the Cloquet-based Minnesota XPlosion U-18 girls fastpitch team rolled through to a third-place finish at the Triple Crown National Fastpitch Tournament in Park City, Utah, last week. The XPlosion won five straight games...

Peaking at the right time, the Cloquet-based Minnesota XPlosion U-18 girls fastpitch team rolled through to a third-place finish at the Triple Crown National Fastpitch Tournament in Park City, Utah, last week. The XPlosion won five straight games at the end to become the highest finishing team from Minnesota in tournament history.

The XPlosion opened pool play with an 8-1 win over the Kansas City Fire as Rachel Tondryk fired a one-hitter, while striking out six.

Kristin Swartz singled with one out in the second inning, Courtney Esse followed with a single and Swartz scored on a hit by Emily Anvid.

In the fourth inning, Katrina Korman doubled, Esse reached on an error, Anvid doubled, Alyssa Hanson singled, Tiffani Rodd added a base hit, while Sami Mattson doubled and Leanne Gittings singled. When the dust settled, the XPlosion had scored six runs.

Game two in pool play saw the XPlosion fall 4-1 to the Albuquerque, New Mexico Fierce. Anvid scored the only run while Korman gave up five hits in the loss.


"That was a tough loss because we had just one bad inning," explained coach Ron Tondryk. "It was our only bad inning in 70-plus innings in the tournament."

In the third game, the XPlosion rallied for a 14-6 win over the Colorado Twisters.

The XPlosion gained a 1-0 lead when Gittings scored in the fourth inning and then took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth when Sarah Williams scored after doubling.

Colorado put a two-spot up on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth and then in the bottom of the sixth, the Twisters added four runs to take a 6-2 lead.

Not to be outdone, the XPlosion plated 10 runs in an amazing top of the seventh inning to go from being down 6-2, to being ahead 14-6 and taking a win.

In their final game, the XPlosion downed the Colorado Spring Thunder 10-3 as Korman's pitching allowed just five hits.

Korman, Swartz, Williams and Hanson all scored in the second inning.

In the fourth inning it was Rodd, Tondryk, Mattson and Hanson scoring and in the fifth, Rodd homered and Hanson scored. Hanson scored three times in the game.


Entering tournament play the XPlosion dropped their first game 4-3 in extra innings to the Fort Collins, Colorado Stars.

The Stars led 3-0 until the XPlosion stormed back in the seventh inning to tie the game with three runs. Gittings doubled and then with two outs Hanson singled to cut the lead to 3-1. Rodd followed with a hit and then Tondryk doubled to score both Hanson and Rodd.

The Stars won the game by scoring the only run in the eighth inning.

"We knew we had our work cut out for us because we were going right into the losers bracket," recalled Tondryk."

Facing elimination, the XPlosion picked up their game and reeled off five straight victories, the first of which ended 10-1 against the KC Fire.

After one inning the score was tied at 1-1, then Williams and Hanson reached with two outs in the second inning and both scored on a long double by Rodd.

Hanson then singled in the fourth, Rodd doubled, followed by consecutive base hits by Tondryk, Mattson and Gittings as the XPlosion picked up four runs to gain a 7-1 lead.

In the fifth, it was Hanson picking up her third hit of the game to start off the inning, Rodd walked, Tondryk singled for her third hit, Mattson reached on an error and Gittings doubled. By the end of the inning, the XPlosion had tacked on three more runs for the final of 10-1.


Facing the Albuquerque Fierce for the second time, the XPlosion struck quickly as leadoff batter Rodd walked, was sacrificed to second by Tondryk and then reached third on a ground out by Mattson. Rodd scored when Gittings struck out, but the catcher couldn't handle the third strike, allowing Gittings to reach first and Rodd to score.

Mattson scored the lone run of the fourth after singling and then in the fifth inning, Rodd reached on a walk, and with two outs Mattson hit a home run to make it 4-0.

The Fierce scored a run in the fifth, but the XPlosion scored twice when Mattson homered to score Rodd. The Fierce fought back for a run in the bottom of the sixth, but the XPlosion got runs from Rodd and Tondryk in the top of the seventh to push the score to 7-2. The game ended in favor of the XPlosion at 7-3.

Trailing in their next game 2-0 to Sudden Impact from Missouri, the XPlosion tied the game in the sixth inning. Rodd singled, Tondryk singled and after a fly ball out, Gittings singled to score Rodd and Swartz doubled to score Tondryk.

In the top of the seventh, the XPlosion added a pair of runs from Williams and Hanson, who both reached on errors and scored on a base hit by Tondryk.

The XPlosion reeled off their fourth straight win on Saturday by beating the Western Slope Golden Eagles 6-1, behind strong pitching by Tondryk who recorded nine strikeouts.

Rodd doubled to start the game and scored on a two-out single by Gittings. Gittings moved to third on a hit by Swartz and then scored on a Korman double. Korman was 3-for-3 in the game.

Hanson bunted for a base hit with one out in the second and scored on a hit by Tondryk, giving the XPlosion a 2-1 lead.


Tondryk added a lone score in the fourth after doubling and scoring on a hit by Mattson. In the sixth, it was Mattson reaching on a single, Gittings reaching on an error and then a double by Swartz and a single by Korman to score two more runs.

The XPlosion then played the Alaska North Stars, coming away with an 8-0 win as Tondryk dominated on the mound with a 15-strikeout performance.

The game was scoreless entering the fifth when Williams singled, Rodd singled, Tondryk doubled and then Mattson, Gittings and Swartz all singled to give the XPlosion a 4-0 lead.

The XPlosion added four more in the seventh on five straight hits.

The XPlosion finally lost in the semifinals 4-1 to Wicked Fastpitch from New Mexico.

Wicked scored four runs in the fourth, and the XPlosion tried to mount a rally in the fifth when Esse scored, but that was all they could muster.

For the tournament, the XPlosion went 8-3 and finished third. On the season, the XPlosion went 34-9.

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