Twisters the queens of Mountain States Tourney
     2013-07-18      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Area fast-pitch team wins eighth tournament, second state title on way to national events

Once again, the Twisters 16-under fast-pitch softball team found its winning streak since May 12 tested in a state tournament’s semifinal game.

And once again, this time down to their last strike twice Saturday night, the Twisters came through to tie the game and then score a decisive victory in an extra inning.

And, for the eighth time in 12 tournaments this season, the Twisters evolved as the champion. The Torrington-based team, which includes seven players from Gering and Scottsbluff, won the USSSA Mountain States Tournament in Loveland, Colo. with a perfect five-win record.

After rallying from a 3-2 deficit and the time limit ticking against them to tie the Northern Colorado Force in the top of the sixth inning, the Twisters posted seven runs in the extra seventh frame to score a 10-4 victory and make Sunday’s championship game.

The Force then lost Sunday to the Evans, Colo.,-based NC Explosion 2, which the Twisters had downed 9-1 on Saturday. The Twisters were once again dominant in cooling the Explosion 2 for the tournament title, 7-1.

The weekend of action leaves the Twisters — who are rated No. 3 in the USSSA B Division national rankings after having been at No. 1 for two weeks — with a 67-5 record on the season, and their 47 straight victories have left them undefeated since May 12.

In Saturday’s semifinal game, the Twisters scored twice early but then had to face a rain delay, which quieted their early momentum.
“We jumped on them 2-0 and then the rain came down, and we came out of that rain delay a little flat,” Twisters coach Dan Fox said. “We made a couple mistakes in the defense and we let the game get tied up. They scored their first three runs off pretty much what we gave them.”

Still trailing 3-2 and heading into the sixth inning, the “We were down to our last strike twice and Barb Calvert (of Scottsbluff) and Raele Riley (of Torrington) made big hits to tie the game up, then we went to extra innings after that and kind of took business right then and there.”

“You could definitely see the emotions from the fans and the players,” Fox said. “Barb had two strikes on her after Raele had the base hit, and I noticed she was tense and tight.

“So I called timeout and told her just to relax, have fun, take a deep breath and just see what happens. She looked to the sky and maybe asked for a little help, and maybe the baseball gods were watching and she got a great hit up the middle.”

Shaylee Rickard of Lingle-Fort Laramie, who led off the sixth with a single, scored on Calvert’s line-drive single.
Then in the seventh inning, the Twisters started their final rally with an RBI double by Cassandra Bustillos of Torrington that scored Marisa Santos of Gillette, Wyo.

Bustillos then scored on a double by Isabel Thompson of Gering, who later scored on an error. Rickard singled home Sofia Fox of Alliance, and Rickard scored on Riley’s double.

Rickard got the pitching win for the Twisters, allowing three runs over seven innings. She struck out six, walked one and scattered five hits. Bustillos, Riley and Rickard combined for eight hits and six RBI.

“There were a lot of emotions after Izzy (Thompson) caught the last out, it was like they won the World Series, with a big dog pile out in left field,” Fox said.

In Sunday’s championship game, a four-run eruption in the third inning spurred the Twisters’ final victory.
Riley went 2-for-2 at the plate, drove in one and scored one run. She singled in the second inning and doubled in the sixth inning.
Rickard struck out six, allowed one earned run, four hits and no walks over six innings to gain another pitching victory.

In their 9-1 win over the Explosion on Saturday, the Twisters scored six runs in the first three innings to put the game away early.
A two-run double by Jessica Rogers of Gering and a single by Rickard during the first inning fueled the Twisters ‘ early offense. Rogers had five RBI on two hits.

Mikayla Butler of Gering got the win in the pitcher’s circle. She allowed one run over four innings, struck out two, walked none and gave up three hits.

The Twisters matched their three-run third inning with three more in the fourth. In the third, the Twisters scored on a three-run home run by Rogers, scoring Thompson and Fox. Thompson got the rally started when she tripled, scoring Bustillos.

In a 9-1 victory over Aztecas, the Twisters scored seven runs in the first three innings. An RBI double by Rogers, an RBI single by Rickard, an RBI single by Butler and an RBI single by Calvert in the first inning, and an RBI double by Fox during the second inning supplied the early offense for the Twisters.

Rickard got the pitching win, allowing the one run over four innings while she struck out five, walked three and allowed three hits. Rogers and Bustillos teamed up for four hits and three RBIs.
The Twisters began tournament play with a 4-1 won over Colorado Havoc-Anthony, scoring all their runs in the first inning.

Rickard went 2-for-3 at the plate, drove in one and scored one run. She doubled in the first inning and singled in the fifth inning.
Butler picked up the win by allowing one earned run, five hits and two walks while striking out four over 5 1/3 innings of work.

Rickard put away the final two outs to record the save.
The Twisters were coming off winning the ASA Nebraska State Tournament in Hastings.

“This was probably a little bit sweeter for us, just because it was something new for all the girls. Last year we went 2-2, so we were determined to do better. But also there were 30 teams in this tournament, so it prepared us for the World Series and Northern Nationals.“

The Twisters will leave Monday for Tulsa, Okla., for the USSSA World Series, which is July 24-28. Then they will stay on the road, spending a couple days in St. Louis before heading to Pekin, Ill., for the ASA Northern Nationals on July 31-Aug. 4.

“I thought it was a great test for our girls, for what they’re going to see in the World Series and after that,” Fox said.

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