The Saline Stingerz Fastpitch 10U team, made up entirely of fifth grade girls from Heritage Elementary, posted an impressive 8 – 3 victory over the vaunted Foster Oilers in the Championship game of this past weekend’s NSA Early Bird Bash Tournament, held in Davison, Michigan (April 27, 28). The tournament win, the first of the year in the first tournament of the 2019 campaign for the Stingerz, earned the team a bid to the NSA 10U Fastpitch World Series (Rockford, Illinois, July 17 – 21).
With a bone-chilling game-time temperature barely above 40F on Saturday morning, the Stingerz started the week-end off with a tough loss to the Anchor Bay Angels, final score 6 – 10. As the temperatures warmed up Saturday, - 45F at the start of the second game! – so did the Stingerz, outpacing their next two opponents - the Outlaws and the Ladycats - by a total combined score of 40 - 3.
The Stingerz would need stellar pitching from the trio of Harper Grambau, Abby Curtis, and Jessi Phelps to have any hopes of earning hardware on Sunday, and the girls delivered in impressive fashion, posting 37 strikeouts while surrendering only 5 hits in the three games on Sunday.
In Sunday’s first game, Harper Grambau pitched a no-hitter and allowed just two baserunners on walks, Stingerz 12 – Krash 0. This set up the rematch with the Anchor Bay Angels in Sunday’s semi-final game. The second time around with Abby Curtis on the mound, the Stingerz were not to be denied. The Stingerz clung to a 6 – 4 lead after 4 innings of play, but came alive in the top of the 5th inning, scoring 4 runs to extend the lead to 10 - 4. Abby and the defense then held the Angels to one run in their final at-bat. Final score, Stingerz 10 – Angels 5.
By the start of the championship game on Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining and the always raucous Stingerz fans were sensing something special in the making. The crafty Coach Marshall, using a prediction strategy devised during his own playing days on the sandlots of Saline, correctly guessed the pre-game coin flip, giving the Stingerz the “home team” designation. Jessi Phelps toed the rubber for the Stingerz in this contest. The Oilers struck first with one run in the top half of the first inning. In their turn at-bat, the Stingerz lead-off hitter Casey Griffin reached on an infield single and methodically worked her way around the bases to score the Stingerz’ first run. The Stingerz threatened more by loading the bases, but the inning ended with a Stingerz player being called out on an attempted steal of home after a passed ball. Jessi worked marvelously with her catcher Zosia Mazur to pound the strike zone and hold the Oilers scoreless over the next 2 innings. Meanwhile the Stingerz put up 7 more runs thanks to smart at-bats; great baserunning; and timely hits. Jessi helped her own cause with 3 RBIs. Due to the 80-minute time limit, the 4th inning would be the final inning. The Foster Oilers made things interesting in the final inning, pushing two runs across the plate and putting two runners on-base with only 1 out, before Jessi coolly struck out the next two batters to seal the 8 - 3 victory.
Pitching Coach Joel Grambau shared his thoughts after the game, “These pitchers did a heck of a job in in their first games of the season and dealing with the cold weather. Our catchers Zosia, Claire, and Lexi played tough and gained confidence over the weekend. Every girl on the team contributed in one way or another. It was a good start to the season.”
Saline Stingerz include: Madison Bellus, Abby Curtis, Harper Grambau, Casey Griffin, Madylin Marshall, Zosia Mazur, Peyton McNeal, Jessi Phelps, Claire Portwood, Lexi Speicher, and Shannon Tangney.