Wash to take national stagePublished 10:19pm Friday, July 5, 2013
With one of only 64 nationwide bids to the national championship tournament on the line, Suffolk’s Sydney Wash and the 18U Legends Elite Gold team realized that if you dig yourself into a hole, you just have to dig yourself out of it.
Wash pitched 26 innings in four games over the course of a two-day tourney, including 21 innings on Sunday, and came away with an impressive 1.08 earned run average.
The squad dropped its first game in the double-elimination tourney to descend to the losers bracket, but it swept the rest of its games to win the ASA Region 3 Gold Qualifier last weekend in Virginia Beach.
18U Legends Elite head coach Jeff Standish said the opening loss against Virginia Legends – Norton served as the catalyst for what followed.
“It was a game in the end that they all felt like they should have won, and we should have stayed in the winners bracket,” he said.
It was a close game, tied 1-1 going into the sixth inning. Then, the Legends Elite committed four errors in the seventh and lost 5-1.
Gold represents the highest level of competition for this group of girls in the Amateur Softball Association of America, and teams have only two opportunities to qualify for the national tournament. One appeared to be headed out the window.
Wash pitched the opening game, and pitcher Erin Stinson, a University of Mary Washington signee, took the mound later on Saturday against the Severna Park Hornets. Catie Knapp of the Legends Elite hit a walk-off two-run home run for 8-6 win.
Sunday morning, Wash returned to work, pitching back-to-back complete, seven-inning games. The first effort resulted in a 4-1 victory over the Virginia Lady Eagles 18U Gold team. Immediately thereafter was a re-match with Virginia Legends – Norton. Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Radford University commit Summer Robinson hit a walk-off homer for the 5-4 win.
Wash compared the two games against the Virginia Legends, saying, “After the first game, we kind of adapted to what they were playing, like how they hit.”
“The difference is that we wanted it more than they did,” Standish said.
In the final game that the Legends Elite would have to play to win the tourney, the team faced the Ashburn Shooting Stars Gold. Stinson pitched the first four innings, but when Ashburn tied the game 2-2, Wash re-took the mound in the fifth and held it for the rest of the game.
“At first, I wasn’t really confident that I was going to be able to perform because of having pitched 14 innings,” Wash said.
But she helped keep the score knotted 2-2 through regulation. Then the teams traded runs until the 11th inning. The Legends Elite went up one run, then Makayla Fallejo hit a home run. When Ashburn got its turn at bat, Wash and the defense allowed only one run before Seana Moriarty recorded the game’s final putout.
“I really dug deep and gave it all I had,” Wash said.
She ended up with 12 strikeouts through the weekend to help her team reach the tournament championship. Getting to that point was enough to guarantee qualification at the 2013 ASA/USA Softball Gold National Championship tournament in Clearwater, Fla., which runs July 21-27.
Nevertheless, the Legends Elite ended up winning the qualifying tourney when the Richmond Ruckus 18U Gold team forfeited, having also already secured a berth at the Clearwater event.