Dusters fall out of Kansas in 17th place

"The Diamond Dusters Gold 16-and-under fastpitch team won five games before bowing to the competition and their own injuries in the American Fastpitch Association (AFA) National championships at Shawnee, Kan., over the weekend.The Dusters finished with a 5-5 record (including 1-1 in practice games and 1-2 in pool play), suffering two losses July 29 to drop out of the massive 118-team field. Coach Dick Thompson's team finished 17th.Ninety-four teams went home before we did, said Thompson, but that doesn't tell the whole story.Thompson said the Dusters had to overcome their season-long injury woes even to attend the AFA tournament. They already had missed two tournaments earlier in the season when they couldn't field enough healthy players at certain positions.The Dusters also are a young team in the 16-and-under hierarchy, Thompson pointed out.Every team we played in the month of July, when it really counts, has been older and has to move up (to 18-U) next year, he said. We only lose two players to the age restriction. In fact, five (Dusters) could have stayed at 14-and-under.These athletes will be very tough next season, Thompson said of the experience.After winning the last of their three pool-play games to advance to the championship bracket, the Dusters won three straight games - including a one-hit shutout by pitcher Lauren Haas in a 2-0 win over the Lady Devils in the third round.The Kitsap team was a one-hit victim in the next round, losing 2-1 to the Summertime Blues from Los Angeles. They also lost 2-1 to the Irvine, Texas Cowgirls, a defeat that ended their tournament hopes.Haas, a ninth grader at Ridgetop Junior High School, pitched four of the Dusters' five wins, and was one of the offensive leaders as well, batting .348. Ashley Stice led the attack with nine hits in 23 at bats, a .391 average, and Kara Griepentrog batted .318.I'm very proud of these young ladies, Thompson said of the Dusters, who finished with a 37-16-2 record.NSA World Series: The Kitsap Angels committed six errors, including four in a fatal third inning, and lost a 3-1 decision to Illinois Lightning, which dropped them out of the National Slowpitch Association (NSA) tournament at Columbus, Ohio.The Angels, 1-2 in the tournament, got two-hit pitching from Jackie Quint, but managed only Celeste Kajiyama's double on their own offensive ledger.The Angels opened with a 4-1 victory over the Flames, but were dropped into the elimination bracket with a 4-1 loss to Pensacola, Fla., in the second round.The Angels finished with a 32-24-1 season mark."

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