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Express named IYC co-champs
MOUNT VERNON A talented Snohomish County Express fastpitch team was forced to settle for tournament co-champions when rain called off their International Youth Challenge title match against the Blaze Intensity June 24.
The Express 14-under team won two of their three games June 23 to qualify for the single-elimination playoffs the following day.
After enjoying some time off, coach Steve Rollings was worried the girls might be a little rusty coming into the tournament, but they shook it off to win all their games on day two for their championship bid.
The Express girls showed no mercy in a 10-0 disposal of their first tournament opponents, Frasier Valley Fusion. Strong defense held the Canadian Fusion team to four hits.
Rollings added that his teams 10 runs in four innings is an unusual amount of offense for a typical fastpitch team.
Leadoff hitters Megan Rollings and pitcher Riley Fritz got the Express train rolling offensively right away with first-inning runs. Rollings hit was her first in a 2-for-3 game performance and an 8-for-18 tournament showing.
Although the Fusion held off outfielder Sacha Clow from notching a run of her own, she was responsible for opening the Express lead by batting in third baseman Jen Rosie. Rollings and Fritz added two more to follow Rosie and make it a 5-0 game.
Fritz scored yet again for the Express in the fourth inning. After successive runs by shortstop Sam Munger and outfielder Michelle Newman, Express fans began discussing amongst themselves when the game might be ended by the mercy rule.
Four more Express runs would have prevented a top of the fifth, but only extra hitter Amanda Cordova and second baseman Katie Buck went on to score in the fourth off a Rosie double.
The Express went on defense a final time against the Fusion. Fritz got her fourth strikeout against the next Fusion batter. Then Kyla Woolsey helped end the game with defensive play at first base, earning a Way to play your position! from coach Rollings.
Munger and Newman joined Megan Rollings in eight-hit tournament performances.
Ninety minutes after the win, the Express faced the Woodinville Rain, who handed the Express their only loss of the tournament, 5-4. The girls rebounded that night to defeat Canadians the Richmond Islanders 4-0 behind a three-hitter pitching performance by Rosie.
Fritz pitched a narrow 5-4 win over the local Triple Threat team, keeping the Express alive in the tournaments one-and-done June 24 playoff bracket.
A 12-hit game, including a Clow home run, carried the girls to a 9-4 win over the Surrey Storm to put the Express in a semifinal game against the White Rock Renegades.
Munger and Fritz shared pitching duties in the Express 7-5 win.
And then it rained.
Although Canadian teams made up less than half the tournaments 14 teams, Rollings said he wasnt surprised to face only two American teams in their six games.
Canadian teams are pretty disciplined. They used to dominate a lot. This year, what I have noticed is, of your better Canadian teams and your better American teams, the American teams are better than the best of the Canadian teams, Rollings said, adding that his teams age division seems to be catching up with their northern rivals.
We havent lost to a Canadian team yet, which surprises me, he added.
With just two tournaments left on their schedule one state tournament, and another in California Rollings said he was proud of the girls results this season. Of their 55 games so far, the Express has won 44 and tied two more.
At Skagit Valley College
Fusion 0 0 0 0 0 0
Express 2 3 0 5 x 10