Aces batter Brooke Cahill looks strong in an at bat during Finch’s Aces Stars & Stripes pool play.
By Will Harrigan
Christian Campbell’s softball operation at Diamond Nation is on some hot streak right now.
Just last weekend, the two Finch’s Aces 14U teams that he oversees – including the one he coaches – both advanced to the Jennie Finch World Series finals in Louisiana and squared off for all the marbles.
Back at Diamond Nation for the Fourth of July Invitational, we may be heading for a rematch in short order.
One toward that reunion was finishing up pool play on a big note, which Finch’s Aces 14U Campbell most certainly did in a methodical, death by a thousand cuts 11-2 victory over Renegades Fastpitch Softball on Sunday afternoon.
The Campbell squad later defeated Chiefs Fastpitch-Brown, 10-0, to advance to Monday morning’s semifinals. The second-seeded 14U Gallo Aces team is also onto the penultimate round.
“We really focused on getting off to a better start than we have because it’s been an issue for us,” Campbell explained. “Today we were able to score early and build on that as the game went on.”
One particular standout for the Aces on this day was Mia Simon, a first baseman who recently completed her freshman year at Watchung Hills.
Against the Renegades, Simon tore up the field, going 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs to help contribute to the victory. All three of those base hits came off the bat with some pop, too.
“She’s a good one for us and has been with our program for a while too,” said Campbell of Simon. “Putting the ball in play with solid contact is what we teach, and Mia and a few others did a good job with that today.”
Getting into game action, the winners jumped ahead three batters in, when Brooke Cahill singled home Megan McNally to put the Aces on top 1-0. Cahill would come around to score a batter later, when a fielding error following a Simon single allowed Cahill to pick up two extra bases and score.
Maddy Tavaglione and Katie Kopera each singled to set the table for McNally with two outs.
McNally – a talented rising sophomore who hit over .500 for West Morris as a freshman this spring – roped a double to drive in both batters and extend the lead to 4-0. McNally would then steal home on a delayed steal in a first-and-third situation to wrap up the inning.
The Renegades, based out of Syracuse in Central New York, loaded the bases with one out in a critical juncture of the game.
Olivia Henty’s single, followed by a pair of walks issued to Erica Hubbard and Izzy McMahon, juiced the bases and put Aces starter Camryn Campbell in a pickle. But Campbell got out of it, inducing a pop up and a strikeout swinging to escape unscathed.
Back-to-back run-scoring singles by Kopera and Campbell added insurance runs in the third, helping extend the lead to 8-0 after three.
The Renegades got on the board in the third, as an RBI single to left off Aubrey Coyle’s bat opened their scoring ledger. That was soon followed by Coyle scoring on a wayward throw by the Aces catcher.
Simon’s two RBI-double in the fourth, coupled with Zoe Totaro’s base hit to score Simon, closed the scoring for the Aces, and the game itself.