Galaxy brings home trophy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

The 10-and-under Galaxy may not have made many friends this past weekend in Siler City, N.C.

But what the Suffolk-based travel team did do was sweep three of the Triad area’s top squads to win the World Fastpitch Connection Jam.

The title earns the Galaxy a berth in the WFC World Series in Myrtle Beach, S.C., later this summer.

“No one likes to see an out-of-state team roll into town and take home the trophy,” said Galaxy manager Bill Terry. “But we want our girls to play the best competition possible. This tournament provided us that opportunity.”

The WFC Jam used a straight 10-team, double-elimination format. As the only team from Virginia, it came as no surprise that the bracket was set up so that the Galaxy would have to beat the three best teams on Saturday.

“This was by far the toughest three-game stretch we’ve had to play this spring,” Terry said. “Because of the format, we knew we had to win all of our games on Saturday to have a realistic chance.”

As it turned out, Terry was right. When the Galaxy walked off the field just after 10 p.m. Saturday, they were the only remaining undefeated team.

“We pretty much knew the tournament was ours at that point,” Terry said. “One of the other nine teams would have to work their way back through the loser’s bracket on Sunday and then beat us twice that evening. That wasn’t going to happen.”

The North Carolina Challengers, a team the Galaxy defeated 8-2 in Saturday’s second game, made it back to the championship round with two wins on Sunday. Heavy rains then rolled into the area forcing the tournament director to suspend play.

“Our girls were upset they never got to play on Sunday,” Terry said. “But like I told them, we beat the teams that finished second, third and fourth. We earned the championship.”

The Galaxy opened the tournament against the favored Chatham Elite, one of the Greensboro area’s top travel ball teams. Facing a 50-plus mph fastball from 35 feet — the equivalent of a baseball pitch reaching near 90 mph — the Galaxy went on a hitting tear collecting 13 hits en route to a 11-2 victory.

Holland’s Brooke Mizelle just missed clearing the 205-foot fence in left center while going 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Suffolk’s Bailey Key, Franklin’s Megan Duck and Carrollton’s Morgan Riddle each added two hits. Carrollton’s Mackenzie Terry led off the pivotal five-run third inning with a sharp single to center.

Key picked up the win, pitching two-hit ball while striking out six.

In the second round, the Galaxy defeated the Raleigh-based Challengers 8-2 behind Key’s one-hitter. Churchland’s Selena Thompson paced the offense with two doubles, with Suffolk’s Jackie Mounie and Key also adding RBI-producing two-baggers.

Saturday night’s winner’s bracket finale pitted the Galaxy against the unbeaten Renegades of Raleigh, another tournament favorite. After a shaky start, the Galaxy exploded for three runs in the third inning and four in the fourth to put the game away. Suffolk’s Morgan Lowers went 3-for-3 with three runs scored from the leadoff position. Western Branch’s Alexis Perkins and Suffolk’s Maddie McGrath each came through with key hits, with Mizelle’s two-RBI single in the fourth completing the scoring.

Key came on in relief with the bases loaded in the top of the first to cool off the Renegades’ early rally. She went on to strike out 10 batters over the next four innings to earn her third win of the day.

Franklin’s Carson Saunders was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Normally the left-fielder, she took over the role as the team’s bandit runner for all three games, scoring 12 runs.

“This was the first tournament we’ve played where they allow a bandit runner,” Terry said. “Basically, it allowed us to use Carson as a designated runner anytime we wanted to. As soon as she would score, we would send her back out to run for someone else. The fields were rock hard but she never stopped stealing bases or sliding. It takes that kind of effort to compete on this level.”

Since play began last fall, the current Galaxy 10U team has compiled a 32-6-1 record while winning five tournaments and finishing second twice. They have already secured Pony, National Softball Association and World Fastpitch Connection national tournament berths.