Virginia Glory’s Aaliya Heinert fields a throw at first ahead of Red Devils baserunner Lauren Cassidy.
By Rich Bevensee
Addy Grimm, one of the smallest members of Virginia Glory 12U Arneja softball team, doesn’t mind getting penciled in at the bottom of the batting order.
Just as long as she gets her chance to contribute.
With the Glory holding a comfortable lead and looking to put the game away, Grimm swung the biggest bat of the game. Her two-run, inside-the-park home run cemented the Glory’s 7-0 pool play victory over Red Devils-Sinno in the Finch’s Aces Fall Invitational on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“I thought I had a home run when I hit it,” said Grimm of her first homer of the fall. “When I rounded second I’m thinking, go, run as fast as you can, just go.”
The Glory won two of three contests on Saturday to put themselves in position for a favorable playoff seed in the 18-team field. They beat East Coast Tsunami 12U White, 5-4, and the Red Devils in back-to-back games, then bowed to the undefeated NBNM Rebels, 3-1.
The playoffs begin on Sunday at 8 a.m. and the championship game is slated for 3:40 p.m.
Also for the Glory, Natalie Welton went 2-for-2 with a solo inside-the-park homer, a walk and three runs scored. It was Welton’s homer, immediately following the two-run blow by Grimm, which ended the game when the 1-hour, 15-minute game clock expired.
Juliana Robles pitched a two-hit shutout for Virginia Glory.
Juliana Robles pitched a two-hit shutout for Virginia and struck out seven. She allowed two walks and a hit batsman, and permitted just two baserunners to reach scoring position.
“She was unbelievable,” Glory coach Vince Arneja said. “She’s great at fastball location, she’s been mastering her curveball which has great spin away from a righty, and she recently picked up a changeup. Mixing those potches up has made a difference.”
The only real trouble Robles saw was in the fourth when she allowed a walk to Sienna Donahue and a Kiera Coyle single with two out. Robles slipped out of the inning by inducing an infield grounder.
“I know I’ll have a good game when I have a good warmup,” Robles said. “My fastball is placing where it needs to be and my other pitches are where they need to be.”
The Glory went to work right away, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning on two hits and an error. Leadoff batter Natalie Welton walked, stole second and scored on an outfield throwing error. Emily Ross doubled home a run, and Alexa Arneja made it 3-0 with an RBI groundout.
Robles helped herself with the team’s second RBI groundout in the third inning.
“We try to teach them to play the whole game, not just go up there and get base hits, think situational hitting and read what the defense is giving them,” Glory coach Vince Arneja said. “Obviously runner on third, less than two outs we’re looking for a ground ball to the right side. Gotta keep piling on runs when you can. We practice those situations and it doesn’t always work out but it did today.”
Then came the fifth, when Grimm and Welton rounded the bases on back-to-back at bats to end the game. Grimm belted a liner to the right center gap to chase home Devyn Anderson and score. Then Welton cranked a fly ball to the right field fence and used her impressive speed to score before a throw home could be made.
Coyle Ainsley Bloch were the only players to log a base hit for the Red Devils, who concluded pool play 0-3. They also lost to the NBNM Rebels, 12-5, and to East Coast Tsunami 12U White, 3-0.