TRACK AND FIELD
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Polson Lil Lakers capture Regional Trophy!
July 25, 2014Northwest Montana A Conference
Mission Valley area 10U fastpitch teams compete at NW Regional Tournament:
Polson Lil Lakers capture Regional Trophy!
by John Heglie
A pair of Mission Valley area 10U softball teams competed at the NW Regional Tournament in Spokane this past weekend. An ASA tournament within the Region 15 arena of the northwest can potentially draw participants from any number of teams throughout Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho as well as Montana. The number of teams in attendance at this particular NW Regional might not have been as extensive as other tournaments held during the course of the regular schedule, but the prize that awaited those with a chance to place would be the biggest notch of them all to engrave onto a softball helmet! The 10U Ronan Rimrocks opened the Regional with a clash against the Glacier Emeralds out of Kalispell, playing them close in a 4-1 loss. The second game pitted the local 10U Spokane Stealth against the 10U Polson Lil Lakers. Despite a pronounced population disparity in size between the two communities, the not-so-wee Lil Lakers plated twice as many runs as their opponent with an 8-4 victory that advanced them into the next round to face the Emeralds for a slot in the championship. Kallie Finkbeiner hit a pair of inside-the-park home runs against an enhanced Spokane pitching combination, her first round tripper off the Stealth starting pitcher, followed by another she tattooed off the subsequent hurler who took the mound in relief. With the win, the Lil Lakers would then proceed to pummel the pitching of the Emeralds 15-8 to secure a berth in the regional championship game.
Meanwhile in the consolation rounds, the Stealth regrouped from any frustration about their initial loss by taking it out on the Rimrocks 10-1, followed by a second go round bout between the Rimrocks and the Emeralds in which the Kalispell team dispatched Ronan 11-2. While the Rimrocks played great overall defense, the team as a whole was in need of more offensive output than just the consistent batting of Kiara Sherman to offset the run productivity generated by their opponents. Kalispell and Spokane would then clash for bronze hardware in the consolation championship in which the Stealth emerged victorious by the narrow margin of 3-2, advancing the winner into the championship game for a rematch against Polson.
Unlike what took place at the State ASA tournament last weekend where the the Lil Lakers were knocked into the consolation rounds by the Missoula-based MT Avalanche and had to put together the softball equivalent of a marathon run in 90+ degree heat in order to battle through the back door of the bracket to make the championship, this time the Polson team was sitting securely in the drivers seat where the challenger would have to beat them twice to capture the crown. In the first championship clash, the Spokane team went up 7-0 on the Polson players, who would close the gap to within 7-6. The Lil Lakers even had the tying run standing on third base, but they couldn’t quite manufacture that timely hit to tie things up, Spokane barely holding them at bay to force a second championship for trophy rights. In the second championship, the Lil Lakers put their bats to work earlier and then held the Stealth in check to capture the 10U NW Regional crown, a first of such magnitude for this age group over the course of Polson softball history. Kallie Finkbeiner would hit another inside-the-park home run to help secure the trophy within the grasp of Lil Laker gloves.
It is not an uncommon practice for teams to bolster their roster for a regional level tournament by adding players from other teams that do not attend. Only the Lil Lakers team were essentially fielding the same roster as they had played with throughout their season, with a few less in the dugout on account of extenuating circumstances. When the players found out about these enhancements, they came up with their own little chant that went something like - “We don’t need no extra players, we just have our own Lil Lakers.” The NW Regional trophy puts an exclamation point on an exceptional season in which the Lil Lakers captured hardware from every tournament they participated in this sumer. They won a total of 5 out of 7, hoisting a silver chalice after State along with receiving a bronze medal after their first tourney of the season when they didn’t win the gold, compiling a cumulative record of 34-5 overall. The team is deliberating about whether to expand their horizons further by tackling a Western National level tournament. Whatever might be decided regarding extending the season any further, the quality of the softball displayed by this assortment of players at such a young level bodes well for the future of the Polson softball program and merits keeping an eye on how they fare in the years to come.
10U NW Regional 1st championship game (Sa. 20 Jul 14) Stealth 7, Lil Lakers 6
Alison Shaler, (5) Kaitlen Stefek and McKenna Cottrell.
Ellie Thiel, (3) Katelyne Druyvestein (4K,4H,2W,1HBP) and Kallie Finkbeiner.
WP - Shaler (4K,8H,5W,1HBP). LP - Thiel (2K,6H,2W). Sv - Stesek (2K,2H,1W).
LIL LAKERS - Finkbeiner 2-4 (RBI,SB), Druyvestein 2-4 (RBI), Josie Caye 2-4 (2B,2RBI), Thiel 2-3 (W), Alexys Orien 2-4 (2RBI,2SB), Gianna Fyant 1-3 (W,3SB), Lucy Violette 0-3 (W), Taylor Holm 0-2 (HBP), Matti Holmes 0-1 (2W).
STEALTH - Stefek 1-2 (2W), Nelson 2-3 (W), Jaden Donohoe 1-4 (2RBI), Cottrell 1-4 (2RBI), Jessica Coriel 1-3 (HR,3RBI), Rylen Palmer 0-3, Shaler 2-3 (HBP), Jade Christianson 1-2, Paige Hamilton 0-0 (W), M. Nine 0-2, P. Bischoff 0-1.
10U NW Regional 2nd championship game Lil Lakers 8, Stealth 2
Stesek, (2) Shaler (9K,7H,2W,HBP) and Cottrell, (6) Makenzie Nelson. Ellie Thiel and Kallie Finkbeiner. WP - Thiel (5K,7H,0W,1HBP). LP - Stefek (0K,1H,4W).
LIL LAKERS - Finkbeiner 2-4 (HR,3RBI), Druyvestein 1-3 (W,SB), Caye 2-4 (2Bx2,2RBI,SB), Thiel 1-3 (W,RBI,SB), Orien 2-3 (W,RBI,2SB), Fyant 0-3 (HBP), Violette 1-3 (W,RBI,3SB), Holm 0-1 (2W,3SB), Holmes 0-3.
STEALTH - Nelson 1-3, Stefek 1-3, Donohoe 1-2 (HBP), Cottrell 1-3 (2RBI), Jessica Coriel 1-3, Shaler 1-3, Palmer 1-2, Bischoff 0-2, Christianson 0-1, Hamilton 0-1, Nine 0-1.
stat specs courtesy of Lil Laker statistician with input from 10U Stealth coach
NOTE TO READERS: A slightly abridged printed rendition of this article entitled “10U Lakers capture regional trophy” is featured with the 24th July 2014 issue of the Lake County LEADER B1-2.