Braves’ season ends at nationals
The Tonganoxie Braves were out on the town late Saturday, but their party ended on a sour note.
Playing in their third game of the day at the American Fastpitch Association's nationals in Lawrence, the Braves couldn't get past the Tuttle (Okla.) Magic in the double-elimination tournament.
In a game that was supposed to begin at 9 p.m., but didn't get under way until 10:30 p.m., Tonganoxie had a furious run, but its oil quit burning about midnight.
The Magic claimed a 10-2 victory and booted Tonganoxie from the nationals.
"We had a great weekend, we just ran out of gas," coach Pat Albert said. "That third game on Saturday killed us."
Tuttle likely was out of fuel the next day.
The Magic had to play four games Sunday beginning at 8:30 a.m. before reaching the championship game.
The Edna Woodshed, based in southeast Kansas, won the national title with a 10-1 victory against Tuttle. The Braves lost to the Woodshed on Wednesday, 8-2, in the team's only pool play loss.
In the past, national tournaments have taken the Braves on long road trips, but this year's tournament took the team on a short jaunt down U.S. Highway 24-40.
"I think we were more comfortable there because we slept in our own beds," shortstop Hannah Herrstrom said.
No motel rooms translated into a much better night's sleep, according to outfielder Jesse Whittledge.
After playing in A tournaments most of the summer and at last year's nationals, Herrstrom thought the Braves should have fared better in the B tournament, but pitcher Amanda Albert said Tonganoxie, which had a 28-21 record entering AFA tournament, came together well.
"We peaked at nationals," said Albert who hurled a no-hitter in a 5-0 win Friday against Highland (Ohio).
Aside from blowout losses to the Woodshed and the Magic, the Braves had a competitive tournament. The Woodshed posted six runs in the first, while the Magic produced five runs in both the second and third innings.
It was an otherwise successful weekend defensively. The Braves just couldn't get enough hits when they needed them.
"That was probably the biggest problem of the weekend," Tonganoxie coach Pat Albert said. "We were having trouble putting two or three hits together."
The Braves actually churned out the hits in consecutive games -- 16 against Potau (Okla.) and 10 the next game against Highland (Ohio).
Although Albert was concerned with overall timely hitting, he found plenty of reasons to celebrate as well.
On two occasions Herrstrom prevented potential runs with throws to catcher Melissa Pratt against Jefferson City (Mo.)
"Those were two of the best plays at shortstop I've ever seen."
Pratt, who had three triples during the tournament, sent a couple pitches to the fence, while Herrstrom, as well as Sami Rush had some crucial hits.
"She's not a power hitter, but she was hitting the ball when we needed hits," Albert said about Rush.
When the tournament ended Sunday afternoon, the Braves finished roughly tied for ninth place in Albert's estimation. After playing the No. 1 (Edna), No. 2 (Tuttle) and No. 5 (Jefferson City) seeds, Albert was content with results from the busy weekend.
"We felt that we accomplished a lot," Albert said. "I'm just real proud of the girls."