Impact Panthers secure Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational title

By Bob Behre

The Impact Panthers of Scranton, Pa. rode two big innings and an outstanding relief effort by Brinley Sobeck to the 18U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational championship last night at Diamond Nation.

The righty Sobeck entered in the third inning and gave her team five innings of one-run relief just as the Impact bats came to life. The Panthers scored five runs in the top of the third inning and three runs in the fourth to build an 8-3 lead against Spitfire on the way to a 10-4 victory.

“We go with three pitchers in a tournament and that was kind of the plan, to finish it with Brinley,” said Impact coach John DeMatteo. “She’s a workhorse.” Sobeck also contributed two hits, a walk and four RBI to the Panthers’ cause.

Maddie Schmalzle, who doubles as the Panthers’ shortstop and leadoff hitter, worked the first two innings when Spitfire built a 3-0 lead. It was Sobeck and Lex Felinski who came through with the big hits in the five-run third for Impact. Sobeck and Felinski each delivered a two-run single to cap the rally.

The big inning started innocently with a leadoff bunt single by No. 9 hitter Cam Domiano. Anita Wolak followed with a single and Lauren Cawley was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Gianna Telesco then lifted a pop up behind first base that was misplayed into the first run of the inning.

Schmalzle, who DeMatteo calls Schmilie, got things going in the fourth with a one-out single to center field. Wolak walked and Telesco reached on an infield error that chased both Schmalzle and Wolak home. Sobeck then drilled a double to the right-center field gap to score Telesco for an 8-3 lead.

Summer McNulty (2-for-4) drew Spitfire a run closer in the bottom of the fourth when her infield single scored Avery Eiswerth from third.

The problem for Spitfire, which defeated the Finch’s Aces 18U Premier in walk-off fashion in the semifinals, was Impact kept tacking on runs. Felinski reached second on a dropped fly ball in the fifth, stole third and scored on a throwing error. Cawley walked leading off the sixth, stole second and third and scored on an infield error to boost the lead to 10-4.

“We wanted to get two or three innings out of ‘Schmilie’ and go to Brinley,” said DeMatteo. “They’re different styles. Brinley did a good job changing speeds. They’re a good hitting team but she kept them off-balance. Coach Laurie (Schmalzle) did a great job calling pitches.”

The Panthers (5-1) outscored its tournament opponents 48-20. Spitfire (5-1) held a 47-28 runs advantage on its opponents.

The Impact Panthers program was started by DeMatteo in 2008 and has grown to 120 girls. The Panthers had six teams competing this weekend at Diamond Nation. The Panthers’ 14U Gold team reached the semifinals and the program’s 12U Black squad reached the quarterfinals.

Impact Panthers teams under DeMatteo’s direction have now won championships at the 14U, 16U and 18U levels at Diamond Nation. 

Wolak finished 2-for-4 with a walk and scored two runs for Impact. Mackenzie Weaver was 3-for-4 and scored a run to lead a 10-hit attack for Spitfire. Sobeck was 2-for-3 with a walk and drove in the four runs. On the mound she scattered four hits over five innings of relief, struck out one and walked one.

FINCH’S ACES FALL INVITATIONAL FINALS

10U

Rawlings Wildcats 10U rolled to a 9-2 victory over the Renegades 10U in the 10U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational championship game. Jenica Matos of the Wildcats was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Rawlings (5-0-1) outscored its opponents 54-20 while the Renegades (5-1) held a 63-24 runs advantage on their opponents.

12U

Renegades 12U coasted to a 7-0 victory over Team Long Island in the 12U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational championship game. Sara Scozzari was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Renegades (7-0) outscored their opponents 59-7 while Team Long Island (5-2) held a 38-18 runs advantage on its opponents.

14U

Renegades 14U defeated Chaos Futures 14U, 9-1, in the 14U Finch Aces Fall Invitational championship game. Amanda Medina of the Renegades was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The Renegades (7-0) outscored their opponents 76-17 while Chaos Futures 14U (6-1) held a 46-24 runs advantage.

16U

Akadema Elite Futures nipped the Staten Island Saints, 12-8, in the 16U Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational.  Akadema Elite (5-0-1) outscored its tournament opponents 55-28 while the Saints (5-1) held a 41-19 runs advantage.