Englewood’s bid to win the Babe Ruth Under-16 Softball League Tournament title fell short June 25 with an 8-1 loss to Thomas Jefferson.
“We would like to have won the league tournament, but it still was a great season,” Englewood coach Shawn Largent said after the tournament title game at the TJ field. “We played well all season and really did well. I feel good about our performance this season, and just about all these girls will be back with us next summer, so we should be strong again.”
Englewood built an early one-run lead, but TJ then tied the score. Well-placed hits and aggressive base running paid off for the Eclipse, a team of TJ players, as they took the lead 5-1 for good in the third inning.
Earlier, Englewood had put together an eight-game winning streak to earn a berth in the league tournament finals for the second year in a row. It was also a repeat contest against the TJ team.
The Englewood Youth Sports Association team closed out the regular season with twin wins to post a 9-3 record. They were seeded No. 3 in the eight-team league tournament, and defeated the Parker Hawks 8-2 to get to the June 24 semifinals against Sheridan.
In the semifinals, Englewood used aggressive base running and timely hits to score eight runs while blanking the Rams.
Largent opted to split the pitching duties, with Gabi Schott throwing the first two innings and Brittany Hall pitching the final two frames. The pitchers combined to strike out seven Sheridan batters, and three of the strikeouts helped kill would-be Sheridan rallies as they came after the Rams twice loaded the bases with one out but weren’t able to score.
“I expected we’d have a pretty good team because we have been a good team for the last three years and we have a number of good players back this season,” the coach said. “The biggest improvement this year is the girls are swinging the bat well. We always played good defense but, in the past, didn’t get timely hits, so we had trouble scoring runs. That has changed, as I think we are scoring an average of about 10 runs a game.”
Largent said his two pitchers, Hall and Schott, have thrown well all season.
Hall is a veteran, as she pitched for the high school team last year.
“I am a better pitcher than I was last fall,” she said. “I am throwing harder, but I think the biggest improvement is my control and being able to put the ball where I want it in the strike zone.”
Schott will be a Pirates ninth-grader in the fall. She said she took up pitching because it looked like fun. She throws a fastball and changeup.
“I also throw a curve, but I don’t really have good control of that pitch all the time,” she said. “I am working with a pitching coach to improve my delivery and to better control all my pitches, particularly my curve ball.”
Along with Hall, many of the players were members of the Englewood High School team last fall, like Maddie Smith, Miranda Holman and Madison “Dolly” Ostrowski.
“I love softball, so playing this summer is so much fun,” Ostrowski said. “I usually play first base, and that is my favorite position. During the off season, I have worked on playing better defense. I played for another team and the coaches helped me improve my ability to scoop up balls in the dirt, to handle ground balls hit to me and keeping a foot on the bag when I field a throw from a teammate.”
She added that she is hitting the ball better, as her coaches have helped her be more patient at the plate and to turn on the ball so she can drive the ball hard