Jayla Timmons steals third for the NJ Pride 10U against the Rockaway Rampage 10U Gold.
By Sean Reilly
The NJ Pride 10U takes aggressiveness to a high level.
“At this age, you’ve got to try to teach them to be aggressive around the bases,” said coach Keith Heinemann, who is also the long-time head mentor at Morris Knolls High School. “Taking the extra base, making the other team make plays. If the other team has to throw the ball and catch the ball, you’ve always got a shot.”
The Pride put that philosophy on full display on Saturday at Diamond Nation, while competing at the Finch’s Aces 10U Fall Invitational.
The Pride was the only team in the seven-team field to win all three of its games in the opening day of pool-play action. It began with a 16-0 win over the Staten Island Saints, followed by an 11-0 victory over the Rockaway Rampage and closed with a 15-4 triumph over the East Coast Tsunami. It had one more pool game on Sunday afternoon in Flemington, but persistent heavy rain washed out Sunday’s action.
The Pride mantra was especially evident in the four-inning middle game against the Rampage, which also featured a stellar pitching performance from Erin Costa Fernandez, who allowed one infield hit over the first three innings, and Taylor Holmes, who struck out all three batters she faced in the fourth.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and keep positive,” said Costa Fernandez, who struck out seven and walked none. “I wanted to throw strikes and not focus on anything else.”
The top of the first inning began with Karli Heinemann drawing a walk. A single by Mari Iannitelli put runners on the corners. Jo Rossiter then hit a liner to first base which was caught by Kennedy Terwaarbeek for a nice, unassisted double play. But lead runner Heinemann read the play perfectly, and tagged from third for a 1-0 lead.
Another heads-up baserunning play led to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second.
That inning began with Jayla Timmons reaching on a strike three wild pitch. Holmes followed with a walk, and a wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position.
The next batter struck out, and Costa Fernandez grounded out to third. The key was how Timmons not only scored from third, Holmes ran non-stop to the plate from second, giving Costa Fernandez a two RBI groundout.
Costa Fernandez was also in control inside the pitching circle. She struck out the first two in the bottom of the first, allowed an infield hit to Ella Giambrone, and then got the third out on a pitcher-to-first ground out. She then struck out the side in the bottom of the second.
The Pride broke the game open by scoring seven times in the top of the third. The inning featured an RBI single by Costa Fernandez and two-run single from Sam Thomas.
The Pride added one more run in the fourth. Heinemann led off with a triple and scored when Iannitelli singled.
The Rampage had better results in their other two games. Their opener against the Maryland Integrity ended in a 7-7 tie, and their third game was a 14-5 triumph over the NW Explosion.