Braves lose steam in Oklahoma games
The Tonganoxie Braves 12-and-under softball team has enjoyed being the road team throughout its season.
Last year, coach Pat Albert's 10-and-under team entered a tournament as the home team in each game, and came away winless in six attempts.
This year, Albert wanted his team to jump out early and force the other teams to catch up, and the philosophy seemed to work most of the time at the American Fastball Association "B" National Tournament last week in Oklahoma City.
The Braves were the away team in each of its games, but went 1-2 in the double elimination tournament after their bats suddenly weren't productive.
"In the last two games, we just couldn't get a hit," Albert said.
Tonganoxie won its pool, going 3-0 with wins against Oklahoma City Impact, Sand Springs (Okla.) Titanium, and a forfeit win against the Hobbs (N.M.) Roughriders.
The 40-team field used pool play to determine seedings in the tournament. Tonganoxie grabbed an opening-round win by defeating the Mid-Del (Midwest City, Okla.) Magic 4-3. The Braves took the lead in the top of the 5th and won after shutting down the Magic in the last two innings.
The Braves faced the Arvada (Colo.) Ice in the winners bracket, but after staying deadlocked for five innings, the Ice scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and held on for a 4-1 victory.
Tonganoxie's inability to score early struck again in a losers bracket game against Quick Silver (Colorado Springs, Colo.) The Braves once again were unproductive offensively. Tonganoxie didn't score until the fifth, which cut the Quick Silver lead to 2-1 Quick Silver, though, added three runs in the sixth and claimed a 5-1 win and knocked Tonganoxie out of the tournament.
Albert said the pitching wasn't any tougher in the losses, but the hits just weren't coming for some reason.
"They thought they could go all the way," Albert said. "Losing that first game takes the steam out of you."
Along with winning its pool, Tonganoxie was strong in the pitching department. Against Sand Springs, Ali Pistora had 11 strikeouts and two walks. Amanda Albert had three strikeouts and 2 walks against the Oklahoma City Impact in a 7-2 win. The Oklahoma City Attitude won the tournament with a 9-0 win against Owasso (Okla.).
Albert said the team finished the tournament in roughly 20th place. The team participated in a gift exchange with another team during the tournament's opening ceremonies. The gifts were supposed to reflect the area the team was from. The Braves gave out various things with sunflowers and Wizard of Oz-themed gifts. The team also visited the Murrah Federal Building memorial, something Albert said capped off a great weekend of softball.
"It was a great experience," Albert said.
The team is now 51-14 on the season and will conclude this year's campaign at the End of Summer Tournament on Aug. 25-27 at Olathe. Try-outs for next season, including those for a 14-and-under team, will begin after the season.