Littlest Dusters get their day(s) in the sun

"They look like ballplayers ... little, tiny ballplayers.Through the hottest weekend thus far this year, they played and played and played, displaying a toughness beyond their years. And at the end, the Diamond Dusters' 10-and-under fastpitch team had the championship of their own invitational tournament to show for it.The Dusters 10s, mostly fourth and fifth graders, played seven games in two days in the heat and dust at the Fairgrounds. They won all three of their pool-play games Saturday and both their semifinal and final matchups Sunday, outscoring their opponents 24-0.But that wasn't enough, according to their coach, Dusty Anchors.I asked something extra of them Saturday, Anchors said after the Dusters' 5-0 victory over British Columbia's Delta Heat '89 in Sunday's championship game of the 10-U A Division. We played two extra games Saturday to fill spots in the round robin, because one of the other teams pulled out.The kids get tired, but if they're eating right and getting lots of rest and water, they can play two or three games in a row without a problem.Anchors said the tough weekend regimen would prepare his team for the continuation of a dense schedule of games that sees them play in an ASA invitational tournament in Centralia this Saturday and Sunday and a national ASA qualifier in Beaverton, Ore., the following weekend.The potential for nearly 20 games over a three-week span doesn't bother his team, Anchors said, the callow years of its players notwithstanding.It helps them learn the game, said Anchors. The wear and tear didn't seem to bother the Dusters - the youngest of six teams in the venerable Kitsap fastpitch factory this summer. As the thermometer meandered into the mid-80s Sunday afternoon, they continued to have their way with the competition, beating FOS Storm 8-0 in the semifinals before blanking the Heat for the second time in the tournament.We beat them 2-0 Saturday, and I was expecting another good ballgame today, said Anchors. But our kids were playing very well all weekend, and we never let down.In the final we went with (pitcher) Nicole DeSantis and she pitched an outstanding game, Anchors said. (Catcher) Jordan Paden threw a few runners out trying to steal, and Kylen Boddie put the brakes on one potential late-inning Heat rally with what Anchors called a spectacular catch, followed by a throw that nailed a baserunner trying to move from second to third.Every time they had a rally, we were able to stop it, Anchors said.The Diamond Dusters Invitational was a compact affair compared to last year's edition, which featured teams from 10-U all the way up to the 18-U division. This year, Anchors - who also served as tournament director - explained that other age groups were away at ASA regional and national qualifying tournaments scheduled the same weekend as the to-do at the Fairgrounds.This is the second tournament in a row we've played well, he said. It's great. It gives us the kind of momentum we need going into those other tournaments we have coming up.The Diamond Dusters' 12-and-under team made it to the semifinals of its division before losing to the eventual champion, Vancouver Ford, 4-0. Until that point, the Dusters were 3-1, their only other loss also coming against Vancouver Ford in pool play.14-and-underThe Diamond Dusters' 14-and-under Red team took third in an ASA regional-national qualifying tournament June 3-4 at Mt. Vernon, sandwiching four straight victories between two losses.The Dusters rode strong pitching by Krista Colburn, Susan Cooper and Heather Case through the elimination bracket to advance within one game of the finals.After they dropped their opener 5-4 to Aphis of Vancouver, Wash., they beat Aloha (Ore.) Breeze 11-4, Sudden Impact 2-0, Salem, Ore. 5-0 and Oregon Spirit 1-0, allowing only 12 hits in those four games. Cooper tossed a one-hitter at Sudden Impact, followed by Case's three-hit shutout against the Salem team - called the Good, Bad and Ugly.The Dusters, 17-6 on the season, actually outhit the Woodinville Canes in their sixth tournament game, 8-4, but committed five costly errors and fell by a 4-1 score.Case had three multiple-hit games in the tournament, including a 3 for 3 effort against the Breeze, and three doubles."

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