Reds add ASA crown

"OLYMPIA - The Diamond Dusters' 16-and-under Red team sprinted through the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) state tournament last weekend at Olympia's Bucknell Park.The Dusters' Gold team limped away from it.The Reds, coached by Bruce Welling, won all five of their tournament games and captured their second state championship in as many weeks. They also won the National Softball Association (NSA) state tourney July 6-8 at Sedro Woolley.We've been playing pretty well, Welling said after the Reds' 2-1, eight-inning victory over the Vancouver, Wash., Magic sewed up the ASA state title. We've been doing a lot of the little things that win ball games, making big plays and not making a lot of mistakes.That's what it took to win a tournament that seemed heavily slanted towards pitching and defense. The Reds averaged just five hits in their five victories, but pitchers Jackie Quint and Heather Case shut the opposition down on just 12 hits total.Quint tossed a one-hitter in the Reds' 5-0 semifinal win over Washington Fire, then picked up the victory in relief of Case in Sunday's finale.Heather had a little leg injury, but she went as long as she could, and then Jackie came in, Welling said of his 1-2 pitching punch. We still alternated (starters).The back-to-back tournament wins send the Reds into the July 27-29 ASA Northwest Regional championships on a high note. That tournament will be played at South End Recreation Area and Peck Fields, both in Tacoma.After a seventh-place finish in Olympia, coach Dick Thompson's Gold unit was waiting to hear whether or not it had qualified for the regional tourney.We finished high enough that we should go (to the regional), Thompson said after his team's 3-2 weekend, which ended with a 2-1 loss to the Northwest Outlaws Saturday night. We've just been fighting the same thing all season with injuries. By Saturday night, we didn't have any pitchers left.The Golds opened the tournament with a 2-0 victory over the Outlaws, but then were dumped into the elimination bracket Saturday morning by a 6-2 loss to Lake Breeze. They edged the Sidewinders - the Red team's opening-round 1-0 victim - to stay alive until running afoul of the revenge-minded Outlaws.Thompson said the Golds have been injury plagued all year, and things only got worse last weekend. Pitcher and shortstop Lauren Haas was flattened in a collision during the Lake Breeze loss that hobbled her for the rest of the weekend, leaving only Sheena Stangler and Shana McLaughlin healthy enough to pitch.We're having trouble just putting nine players on the field, Thompson said.The Reds - who defeated the Golds twice in the NSA tournament, including the championship game - continued their penchant for making big plays at the right times in winning the ASA title and running their season record to 36-8.They got into a bases-loaded, no-outs predicament in the fourth inning of their opener with the Sidewinders - a team coached by former Dusters player Leah Francis. But Case managed to pitch her way out of the mess, and the Dusters came back to score the game's only run in the bottom of the fifth when pinch-runner Karen Sjostrom plated on a wild pitch with Jackie Binns at the plate.We sometimes get ourselves into trouble, but we've been able to get out, Welling said. We make good plays when we really need them. We've got two good pitchers, and that helps, but we've got good infielders and good outfielders, too. They've all been playing well.Sjostrom, a junior at Klahowya secondary school, finished with five hits in the tournament, a .417 average, and three runs batted in. Welling also credited the offensive play of Cathy Kneiss (who homered, tripled and drove in three runs in a 4-2 victory over the Snohomish County Express Saturday morning), Case and Kristi Baumgartner.There weren't a lot of hits out there, he said, but we got some at the right times.That was the difference between his crew and Thompson's. Ashley Stice drove in the winning run in the Friday win over the Outlaws with a clutch fifth-inning single, and catcher Sarah Pedroza's two-run double keyed the victory over the Sidewinders.That was about it for our offense, though, Thompson said. We didn't hit the ball very well last weekend. "

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