May 11, 2018
By Bob Behre
The stunning cohesiveness of the Finch’s Aces 12U team was on full display last weekend when the girls rolled to the USSSA Cinco De Mayo tournament championship in Emmaus, Pa.
The process of developing from 12 individual parts to a well-oiled, steam-rolling, one-minded machine can be tricky and error-prone, but the 12u Aces have embraced the process that has brought forth fruitful results.
The 12U Aces first outscored their two pool play opponents 28-5 before sweeping through the three-game playoff in dominating fashion. The Aces capped their two-day, 5-0 tournament run with an 8-0 championship game victory over Xplosion.
It was the second straight weekend an Aces team won a championship. The 10U Aces won the West Deptford Spring Slammer on April 30.
“Back in the winter, we knew we had really good individual players,” said 12U Aces coach Christian Campbell, “but we had to decide as a team if we truly wanted to be a team. Did we want to be accountable to each other and win tournaments?”
Campbell received the answer to all of those questions last weekend and they were a resounding yes. And he didn’t have to wait long.
The 12U Aces came out swinging and defeated their first tournament opponent 20-2 while Mia Seap tossed an impressive five-hitter. Seap struck out seven and walked just two in her complete game effort. “We batted everyone and every girl in the lineup had at least one hit,” said Campbell.
While the bats and pitching remained at a high level during the 12U Aces’ 8-3 victory in the second game of pool play, it was their defense that turned heads. Samantha Dougherty permitted three runs on five hits while striking out five in another tidy effort in the circle for the 12U Aces.
Dougherty’s strong start was supported by that stubborn Aces defense. Outfielders Bella Smith, Emily Vinal and Hayley Williams did a fine job of chasing down fly balls in a victory that secured the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. “Hayley did a great job in right field with a couple put outs,” said Campbell. “Bella made two really good plays in center and Emily took care of business in left field while also crushing the ball at the plate.” The Aces hammered out 10 hits in the game.
The 12U Aces made another big statement with their bats in their playoff opener, scoring three runs in the first inning, three more runs in the second and putting away a 15-2 victory over Sting 12U Black during a nine-run inning. Caitlyn Redmond did the heavy lifting in the circle, limiting the Sting to two runs on five hits, striking out three and walking just one.
“Caitlyn pitched to contact and was able to work really efficiently,” said Campbell. “She got us off the field quickly and let our hitters go to work.” The Aces hitters just kept firing on all cylinders. “We had three girls with multiple hits,” said Campbell.
Emma Liscowacki and Celia Totaro stepped up, both in the field and at the plate, and catcher Kylie Peteak threw out a pair of would-be base-stealers and added a double and triple in the tournament.
Dougherty and Seap stepped back into the circle and closed out the tournament with back-to-back shutouts. Dougherty limited the Enforcers to five hits, struck out four and walked two in a highly effective 8-0 five-inning semifinal shutout that backed another potent 12U Aces hitting attack.
Seap never really gave Xplosion an opportunity to get anything started in the final as she shut them out on one hit, nine strikeouts and one walk in another 8-0 victory in five innings. Third baseman Marli Zszierer made a memorable play in the final when she snared a line drive and fired to first base to catch a runner off the bag for a double play.
Taylor Tavernite chipped in with a pair of timely hits off the bench. “Taylor is one of our vocal leaders and also one of our fastest runners,” said Campbell. “I was so excited for her success in the tournament.”
The 12U Aces deep pitching staff is usually fronted by ace Paige Brightwell but Brightwell suffered a high ankle sprain recently and is in a walking boot. Despite her inability to pitch for her team last weekend, Paige was front-and-center leading cheers from the bench. “Paige was there for the entire tournament,” said Campbell. “It was good for our girls to have their teammate there. We’ll get her back in a couple weeks.”
The Finch’s Aces 12U outscored their Cinco De Mayo tournament opponents 59-7.