Stingers place third in state tourney

Stingers place third in state tourney
Vermillion's Stingers, under head coach Dave Chickering, were entered in the S.D. State ASA Fast Pitch Softball Tournament, played in Sioux Falls July 13-15 where they compiled a 4-2 record to place third in the U16 group.

In the first game, the Stingers defeated the Rapid City Stingrays by a score of 4-2.

Line totals: Stingers – 4 R, 6 H, 4 E, 5 lob; Stingrays – 2 R, 8 H, 1 E, 11 lob.

Jenny Bye recorded 4 Ks and no walks as the winning pitcher. She also led the offense going 2 for 3, 1 run, 1 RBI. Molly LeCates went 1 for 3, 2 RBIs; Chelsea Houska – 1 run; Donica Crichton went 1 for 4, 1 run; Ali Truhe – 2 for 3, 1 run.

"We were a little nervous about opening the tourney with the Stingrays. We had just beaten them twice in the Rushmore tournament and they have 3 or 4 very dangerous hitters," coach Chickering said. "The girls came out ready to play, scoring all 4 runs in the first inning, with 3 hits, and were benefited by 2 errors. Defensively, we were a little sloppy, committing 4 errors, but Jenny and Ali did a good job, working around their best hitters in the middle of the order."

In the second game the Stingers faced the Hartford Sparx.

"We played much better defensively, but the offense was non-existent through three innings and we trailed 3-0," coach Chickering said.

Line score: Stingers – 5 R, 7 H, 1 E, 4 lob; Sparx – 3 R, 6 H, 2 E, 6 lob.

Jenny Bye pitched the full seven innings to claim the victory.

Offensive stats in the game: Brittany Bye 1 for 2, 1 run, 3 RBIs; Houska – 3 for 4, 1 run, 2 RBIs. Megan Chickering and Erica Johnson each went 1 for 2, with 1 run scored. Jenny was 1 for 4, 1 run.

"Brittany's home run with two on base, in the third, to straight away center field, changed the entire momentum. It was an absolute bomb, clearing the fence by 20 to 30 feet. In the next inning, Chelsea followed up with the game winning two-run double," coach Chickering said. "This was a big 'gut check' for the team and I was happy to see how they responded when being behind for the first time in the tournament."

Jenny Bye was the starting pitcher for the Stingers in the third game against S.D. Flash, the eventual state champ. She went 5 innings, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, and recording 3 Ks. Chelsea pitched the final 2 innings, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits as the team committed 2 errors.

Line score: Stingers – 2 R, 4 H, 2 E, 3 lob; Flash – 11 R, 14 H, 0 E, 4 lob.

"Offensively, we managed four hits against one of the best pitchers in the state, a college Division 1 recruit. Our biggest hit was the three-run double in the fourth," coach Chickering said. "We were only down 5-2 going to the sixth, when 'the wheels came off.' The final score was not indicative of how the girls played in this game. I'm proud of how they competed against the best team in the state."

The fourth game pitted the Stingers against the Rapid City Stingrays. It was the fourth time the Vermillion team faced the Stingrays in three weeks.

Vermillion's Jenny Bye was the winning pitcher as the Stingers defeated Rapid City 7-6 in extra innings. Line score: Stingers – 7 R, 10 H, 1 E, 9 lob; Stingrays – 6 R, 7 H, 4 E, 6 lob.

Offensive stats: Crichton – 1 run; Houska – 2 for 5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, Britt Bye – 2 for 4, 2 RBIs; Truhe – 2 for 4; Ouellette – 1 for 3, 1 RBI; Anna Erickson – 1 for LeCates – 2 for 4; Megan Chickering – 1 run.

"This game was an epic battle. We jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, but had some mental lapses in the late innings, allowing them to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The international rule was used whereby a runner is placed on second base to start each inning. Neither team scored in the eighth, but Rapid City plated two runs in the top of the ninth," coach Chickering said. "Chelsea came up with a key two-run double in the bottom half, followed by a Brittany single to drive her in to win the game. Due to the extra innings, this game was not completed until after 11 p.m.

"This game was indicative of how these girls play softball; they never give up! It would have been easy to give up after falling behind two runs in the ninth. To score three runs in the extra inning is just a testament to the 'fight' in this team," he said. "Defensively, this was our best performance in the tournament, with only one error in the nine innings. Our outfielders – Anna, Molly, and Megan – played particularly well, making several outstanding catches."

The fifth game was a return match with the Hartford Sparx. The Stingers were the dominant team, winning 7-2 in seven innings as Jenny surrendered 4 hits and struck out 6 batters.

Totals: Stingers – 7 R, 9 H, 3 E, 10 lob; Sparx – 2 R, 4 H, 5 E, 6 lob.

Significant offensive statistics: Crichton – 3 for 4, 1 run, 1 RBI; Houska – 1 for 5; Jenny Bye – 1 for 5, 1 run, 2 RBIs; Ashley Ouellette – 1 for 4, 1 RBI; Britt Bye – 1 run Truhe – 1 for 4, 1 run, 1 RBI; Erickson – 1 run; Erica Johnson – 2 for 3, 2 runs, 1 RBI.

"Every one was hitting the ball. We struck out only once in 40 plate appearances in the game. Donica and Erica led the offense. Erica is just a very solid hitter; she doesn't hit with power, but has a very good average, and gets on base for the batters at the top of the order," coach Chickering said.

The sixth game was a 9-0 loss in the consolation round and ended the tourney for the Stingers.

The Sioux Falls Flamez were too much for Vermillion as Jenny Bye gave up 8 runs on 14 hits, recording 3 Ks. Vermillion – 0 R, 5 H, 2 E, 4 lob; Flamez – 8 R, 14 H, 0 E, 9 lob.

"Offensively, we hit the ball well, with only one K in 20 plate appearances, but nothing was falling for us. Having to fight to get out of the loser's bracket took its toll on us; we just ran out of gas!" coach Chickering said.

The coach noted that he is very proud of the girls who make up the Stinger team, and praised their performance during the tournament. "I was a little nervous coming into the tournament due to the fact that we were a little banged up. In the past two weeks, Jenny had a severe bruise on her pitching arm, Ali had a severe bruise on her elbow, and Anna was coming off of strep throat," coach Chickering said. "We proved we can compete with any 16U team in the state. Third place is just an awesome accomplishment. Our season now stands at 34-13-1."

This week, the Stingers are competing in their final tournament of the year – the AFA National in Tulsa, OK, which began July 23 and wraps up July 28.

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