Vermillion Stingers compete in national tournament By Jim Prosser Vermillion Stingers, a young U14 fastpitch softball team from Vermillion, competed in the AFA National Fastpitch Tournament in Lawrence, KS, last week.
�I was very excited when we got invited to play in a national tournament,� said coach Matt Brandhagen. �The girls worked hard starting in April and didn�t give up all year while playing some of the best teams in the state. We seemed to get better and better after every game in the summer league.
�In the league tournament we placed fourth and got invited to play in the national tournament,� he added. �Not many teams from South Dakota compete at the national level. I knew the teams at Kansas were going to be some of the best from around the nation, but my girls were ready for the challenge and played their hearts out. I was very proud of them and how they represented the city of Vermillion.�
The first game was against the Kansas City Ice and the girls had a few jitters in the first inning, giving up nine runs. After that, they only gave up one more and scored five of their own. The final score was KC Ice 10, Vermillion Stingers 5.
In the second game, the Stingers played the champions in the AFA national tournament. The Stingers held their opponents at bay, 1-0 going into the fifth, but ultimately lost 6-1.
�I thought the girls competed well against the best team in the tournament,� Brandhagen said. �They didn�t give up the whole game while posting six hits and one run.�
In the third game, Jenny Bye went to the mound for Vermillion, despite suffering from an arm injury. The Stingers played the Oklahoma Broken Arrows. Vermillion won 6-5.
Bye struck out six while fighting through her injury.
�I was very pleased with Jenny�s performance, knowing she was throwing hurt,� Brandhagen said. �She stuck through it and should be proud that she was a winning pitcher at nationals.�
In the fourth game the Stingers faced a team from Lawrence, KS, and fell short 8-3.
In the last game, Bye was ready to throw one more game, and if it wasn�t for the time expiring she might have pulled off another win. The Stingers played a team from Missouri and they were tied 4-4 going into the last inning when the time expired after Missouri scored two, robbing Vermillion another chance to score. The Stingers lost 6-4.
�We hit the ball well, played defense well and just came up a little short,� Brandhagen said.
The Stingers U14 will give it another try next year for the national tournament.
�I am looking forward to next year when most of my team is back,� Brandhagen said. �I also am going to miss the girls that will move up to U16 � Brittany Bye, Megan Amundson, Sara Kjose, Angie Christensen and Chelsea Allen.�