Sports

Dusters 14 Reds say 'aloha' with fifth tourney title

"What better way to celebrate a successful fastpitch season, which included four tournament championships, than a trip to Hawaii?How about winning a fifth tournament while you're there?That's just what coach Bruce Welling's Diamond Dusters Red 14-and-under team did at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hawaii Invitational on Oahu.We were about a block away from Waikiki Beach, Welling said of the location of his team's 7-0 tournament run, which put the wraps on a 51-16 season. We beat four Hawaiian teams, two from California and one from Colorado.The victory on Oahu capped a season that also saw the Dusters Reds finish seventh in the huge (50 teams in their age group alone) Colorado Fireworks tournament as well as the ASA State tourney. They were second in the National Softball Association (NSA) state playoffs, had a third-place finish in a national qualifying tournament and fourth in the ASA Regionals.We traveled a lot, we worked hard, and we had a lot of success, Welling said.In Hawaii, the Dusters Reds outscored their opponents 40-7, paced by the pitching of Susan Cooper, who had one no-hitter, a one-hitter and two three-hitters. Dusters pitchers struck out 41 batters while walking just 11 in their seven games.Clearly, Welling said, our pitching and our defense were the keys.While a tournament in Hawaii could hardly be categorized as chopped liver, Welling called the Colorado Fireworks tournament - which two other Diamond Dusters age-group teams also attended - one of the best in the nation.We played some of our best ball at that tournament, he said. Of the two teams we lost to, one of them (from Arizona) won the championship and the other (from Georgia) took fourth. We beat two teams each from California and Texas, one from Georgia, one from Colorado and one from Washington.We didn't do too bad, he understated.For the season, Cooper pitched her way to a 21-win season, with Krista Colburn close behind at 19. Heather Case was an 11-game winner.Welling thanked the team's sponsors, who helped make the Hawaii and Colorado trips possible, as well as shorter jaunts to nine other tournaments.We did get around, he said. The Colorado trip was 20 hours driving the speed limit and three tanks of gas. Hawaii was a five-hour, 20-minute flight and gallons of sunscreen.Dusters Reds players included Case, Colburn, Cooper, Kristi Baumgartner, Jackie Binns, Stephanie Hedrick, Diana Holland, Laura Johnson, Cathy Kniess, Jamie Peters, Savannah Starkweather, Brenda Stice and Kara Welling. Welling's assistant coaches were Bob Case, Dave Cooper and Jim Hedrick. "

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