Xplosion play in ASA U-18 nationals
There was good news and bad news from Missouri last weekend. The Minnesota Xplosion U-18 fast pitch team played four games in the American Softball Association's national tournament. Though the team lost all four games, valuable experience gained...
There was good news and bad news from Missouri last weekend.
The Minnesota Xplosion U-18 fast pitch team played four games in the American Softball Association's national tournament. Though the team lost all four games, valuable experience gained by the young players will help them improve for next season.
"We had a lot of 15-, 16- and 17-year-old girls playing on our U-18 team," said coach Ron Tondryk. "We were playing against older girls. That's not an excuse, but playing better and different competition certainly helped."
The team opened pool play last Thursday with a 9-2 loss to the Omaha Lightning. AlBrook's Ariel Morris had two hits, while Cloquet's Alyssa Michaelson had a double.
"Unfortunately, we didn't do much," Tondryk said. "The kids were a little nervous about playing in nationals, it was hot out and there was everything that goes with it."
The second pool game saw the Xplosion fall 6-3 to the Missouri Crossfire. AlBrook's Alissa Johnson had two hits with a run scored, while Cloquet's Shania Paulson had a double and scored twice. Morris had two more hits in this game, and Cloquet's Kelly Carlson doubled.
On Friday, the Xplosion finished its pool play to last season's national champion, the Seymour Flames. The Wisconsin-based team defeated Cloquet 5-0 and went on to finish fourth in the event. Ariel Morris had two more hits, as did Laurel Morris. Carlson doubled once again.
"They were really good," Tondryk said of the Flames. "We left a bunch of kids on base but we tried to keep things in perspective."
In the elimination round, the Xplosion again faced the Lightning and this time played them much tougher, losing 5-3 in 10 innings.
The teams entered extra innings deadlocked at 1-1, playing the international tie-breaker that puts a runner at second base with no one out. After Omaha scored in the eighth, Paulson's RBI double re-tied the game. Omaha scored again in the ninth, only for Carlton's Megan Nelson to tie it again with a single to score Carlson.
In the 10th, a disputed ball-four call loaded the bases for Omaha, and a two-out double plated the two runs that won the game.
"I don't usually argue balls and strikes, but the ball (from pitcher Denise Rodd) was right down the middle," Tondryk said. "It was not a good call, and we battled them (Omaha) right to the end."
With the tournament and league season over, the players will take a breather.
"While expectations were high and it was disappointing to lose, we have to reflect a bit," Tondryk said. "Our kids went from point A in March to point B at the start of the summer to point C at the end and made huge progress and improvement. We taught fundamentals and got game experience that will only help the program."
Realizing that the young team might be overmatched at nationals, Tondryk didn't lose perspective.
"We didn't count wins, we counted improvement," he said. "We also did some team building through going to a Twins-Royals game. We're already planning next season in our minds."