Twisters battle Missouri team 4 times, take 2nd in USSSA World Series
     2013-08-01      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
As it turned out, the Twisters 16-under fast-pitch softball team’s route to playing for the championship of the USSSA World Series Tulsa, Okla., went through historic Route 66 and Interstate 44 to the northeast and Joplin, Mo.

The Joplin-based Missouri Smash suffered a pool-play crushing by the Twisters, 13-1, but when both teams made the championship semifinals of bracket play, the Smash got revenge with a 7-1 win.

After the Twisters — with their two-month, 48-game winning streak ended with a tie in pool play and their unbeaten streak of 54 ended by the Smash, the Twisters won over a Kansas team in the consolation final to gain another shot at the Smash.

With the Joplin team needing one win to claim the 44-team tournament championship, the Twisters needed eight innings to edge the Missourians 3-2 to force a second title game. However, the Smash was ready for its own revenge and took the championship with a 10-2 win.
“I think the girls felt a little bit disappointed that they felt like they could beat that team, and we did beat them twice and they beat us twice,” said Twisters coach Dan Fox, whose team went 8-2-1 in the tournament and stands at 75-7-1 on the season. “

“It’s disappointing that it was just so close, but we played very well and had a good tournament.”
In the Twisters’ unbeaten streak-snapping 7-1 loss to the Smash in the winners’ bracket semifinal, Fox said: “I think what happened was we missed a lot of opportunities in that game. We left a lot of runners on base, we had like four or five errors, and we scored only one run, but we just didn’t execute on plays.”

Gering product Jessica Rogers had two hits for the Twisters in the loss’s two-hit day at the dish, while Mikayla Butler of Gering held the Smash to just three hits in the pitcher’s circle. Butler allowed one earned run, walked none and struck out two during her 3 2/3 innings of work.

The Twisters then fell into the elimination bracket but emerged after scoring a 9-6 win over the Kansas Renegades Black of Clearwater, Kan.
In that game, Butler had two RBIs on three hits for the Twisters. She doubled in the second inning and singled in the fourth and sixth innings.

Shaylee Rickard of Lingle-Fort Laramie was a workhorse in the circle while bagging the win for the Twisters. Rickard pitched seven innings and allowed one earned run, five hits and no walks while striking out three.

In the eight-inning match-up in the first championship game, the Twisters and Smash were deadlocked at 2-all after seven innings. Joplin could not capitalize on having a runner placed at second base in the top of the eighth according to the international tiebreak rule for extra innings.

Rickard was placed on second in the bottom of the eighth for the Twisters. After Butler’s sacrifice advanced Rickard, a passed ball let her come home for the winning run. Rickard also pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits.

“We came back and beat them, although we stranded 14 base runners and left the basesloaded twice and didn’t score,” Fox said. “When they didn’t score, that gave us the advantage and we felt pretty comfortable. Jessica Rogers laid down a bunt and got her to third, and then she came home on a wild pitch.”

In the second championship game, Gering’s Isabel Thompson went 2-for-3 at the plate in the finale for the Twisters. But the Smash did exactly that in routing the Wyo-Braskans.
“We felt pretty comfortable going into that last game,” Fox said. “Everything we hit went right to them, everything they hit fell in, and we made some errors and I think after the third inning we kind of fell apart.”

No shame in playing 11 games in four days and coming out ahead of 42 other teams, however.
“We’re not disappointed in taking second place,” Fox said Monday. “Second place in the World Series is pretty good. I think the disappointment came in that we beat that team twice and that we left a lot of opportunities out there.”

After a few days in St. Louis, the Twisters are in Pekin, Ill., for the ASA Northern Nationals Tournament in Pekin, Ill. Thirty teams will start pool play Thursday, with the Twisters in a four-team bracket.

“Usually the ASA is a little bit tougher, but I think we’re going to see just as many good teams as we did in Tulsa. We’ll be ready for it.”

The Twisters are in Pool 5 of eight and will open against the Starved Rock (Ill.) Bandits at 1:30 p.m. Central Time. They will then play at either 3 p.m. or 4:30 p.m., depending on a respective first-game loss or win. The other teams in Pool 5 are the LGSA Lazers of Peoria, Ill., and the DSA Genoa City (Wis.) Xplosion.
Based on their pool finishes, the 30 teams will then be placed in a double-elimination bracket, and play will continue until a champion is crowned Sunday.

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