Submitted by Valley Force softball
It was opening weekend for Valley Force 01, and what a weekend they had. The girls played in the Capital City Showdown, which was held at Lou Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend. Thirty-two teams entered the 16U Division and were split into two pools of 16 teams with a guaranteed seven pool-play games so you would not play everyone from your pool.
At the end of the day on Sunday, these girls were sporting a 7-0 record but were tied with the Ohio Thunder 01 team from Mason, Ohio, who earned the right to play in the showcase game by giving up nine runs to the Valley Girls 12. Ohio Thunder 01 went on to win the showcase game.
This is a nice tournament to start the summer with when you have 11 players that represent nine school districts. The seven game guarantee is great. The schools represented are Garaway, Dover, Indian Valley, Claymont, TCC, New Philadelphia, Chippewa, Stow and East Canton.
Valley Force started their weekend Friday morning against UTM Revolution out of Canada. The team got off to a slow start as UTM jumped out to a 5-1 lead through the first two innings of play. Valley exploded in the third inning for seven runs to take an 8-5 lead. UTM scored one more run in the fifth inning, which cut the score to 8-6, and that’s where the game ended.
Penelope Cantu led the team with two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Alexis Renner, Jenna Stout, Maleah Stansbery and Mackenzie Kendrick all added a hit as well. Renner finished with two RBI to lead Valley. Courtney Beckley got the win in the circle.
The Valley Girls were in control the whole game on Friday versus the Lady 83’s. Valley ended this game with a 6-1 win. Zoe Johnson led with two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Cantu, Annette Weston, Stout, Stansbery, Courtney Beckley and Kendrick all added a hit each. Kendrick led the team with two RBI. Kendrick also was the winning pitcher in this match-up.
The first game on Saturday was against the Cincy Slammers. This game was tied at 0-0 through three innings of play. Valley was able to get two runs across in the fourth inning and held on for a 3-0 win.
Valley had five girls contribute a hit each: Johnson, Cantu, Renner, Stout and Stansbery. All three runs were scored as a result of an RBI by Renner, Stansbery and Alli Edwards. Courtney Beckley pitched a no-hitter with nine strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter.
The fourth game of the weekend was against the Ohio Bulldawgs Elite. The Bulldawgs jumped out to a 1-0 lead through two innings of play. Valley rallied with a run in both the third and fourth innings to take the lead and were able to add two more in the sixth and one in the seventh to capture a 5-1 win and a 4-0 record for the weekend.
Valley had three girls with two hits apiece: Cantu, Shelby Ries and Beckley. Johnson, Renner and Weston each added a hit, and Johnson had two RBI to lead the team. Kendrick went the distance in the circle, allowing just three hits and an unearned run.
Game five was against Buckeye Heat 01. A team that took second at the USSSA Nationals two summers ago and a team that has turned into a rivalry for the Valley Girls. The two teams have faced off five times in the last two summers and have at least one more match-up later this summer. Valley is leading the series now 4-1 with the win on Saturday. The last time these two teams played, Buckeye Heat bested the Valley Girls with a mercy win. This time around the Valley Girls were looking for some payback, and they got it by blanking the Heat 9-0 in a mercy win. It felt as though Valley was in control from the first pitch.
The Valley girls exploded for 16 hits and were led by Ries, who went 4-4 at the plate. She was helped by Beckley, who went 3-3 with two doubles. Cantu, Weston and Stout each added two hits with Johnson, Renner and Edwards rounding out the hitting with a hit each. Eight of the nine runs were scored off an RBI with Stout leading the way with two. Johnson, Ries, Cantu, Edwards, Weston and Beckley each had one RBI. Beckley went the distance in the circle for the shut-out victory.
After starting the weekend with a 5-0 record, the Valley Girls had put themselves in a position to go after the eighth and final showcase game of the weekend. They needed two more wins and needed to give up three fewer runs than Ohio Thunder or an Ohio Thunder loss. Neither of the two would happen as both teams won both games and gave up the same amount of runs on Sunday.
The first game on Sunday was against Brampton Blazers, another team from Canada. Valley jumped on the Blazers early and often as they scored two runs in each of the first three innings. The final score ended with an 11-2 victory.
Johnson led the way with three hits, two runs scored and a team-leading five RBI. Stansbery, Beckley and Kendrick all added two hits while Ries, Cantu, Renner and Stout each had a hit. Behind Johnson’s five RBI was Renner, who had three herself, and one each by Weston, Stout and Beckley. Kendrick picked up her third win in the circle for the Valley Girls this weekend.
The final game of the weekend was at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday after the rain and the sun came back out. It was extremely hot and humid for the final game of the weekend. The Ohio Banshees capitalized on a couple of Valley mistakes to take a 2-0 lead. That lead would hold up until the bottom of the third inning when the Valley bats came alive and scored five runs and then six more in the fourth to capture a mercy win.
Valley was led by Renner, who had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Cantu added two hits along with a hit each by Johnson, Ries, Edwards, Weston and Stansbery. The girls ended with nine RBI on 10 hits. Beckley got the win in the circle, her fourth of the weekend.
For the weekend, the girls scored 53 runs on 68 hits with 45 of them being an RBI. They had 48 singles, 17 doubles, three home runs and a team batting average of .398. The girls drew 20 walks to 19 strikeouts. Valley had five girls that hit over .400 for the weekend. Cantu led the way at .611, followed by Beckley at .529, Johnson at .450, Renner at .421 and Ries at .400.
Cantu also led the way with 11 hits, followed by Beckley and Johnson with nine, Renner and Ries with eight, Stout and Stansbery with six, Weston with five, Kendrick with four, and Edwards with two. Johnson and Renner led the way with nine RBI each. Beckley scored eight times, followed closely by Edwards, who crossed the plate seven times. Edwards also led the team in walks drawn and was hit by the pitch three times. Johnson went yard twice, and Renner got the long ball once.
The pitching tandem of Beckley and Kendrick were on point most of the weekend. Of the 12 runs Valley gave up, only four of them were earned. They combined for an ERA of just .737 with Kendrick sitting at 0.000 and Beckley at 1.273. They also had a combined total of 17 walks and 17 strikeouts. Beckley had 15 of the strikeouts.
All in all it was a great weekend for these Valley Girls. This weekend the team will welcome Amber Peltz back, who missed being there for her brother’s graduation weekend, and also this weekend they will miss Penelope Cantu as she will be traveling overseas to France and Spain with a group from her school. The girls will play in South Euclid in the Notre Dame College Series Tournament, which they took second place in last year. They will be looking to finish in the top spot this coming weekend.