In general, youth softball sounds more verbal than youth baseball with, for example, dugout cheers provided by teammates who double as cheerleaders for their friends at the plate.
In a Youth League contest Thursday night at Field 3 of the PSU Softball Complex between NAPA and Sonic Drive-In, NAPA players relied on a cheer of “Good eye, now kiss that ball goodbye,” perfectly coordinated and drawn out with perfect timing.
The cheer was applied in the first inning when Kaitlin Crossland connected on a triple and in the third when NAPA plated six runs on three hits, including consecutive doubles by Emily Imhof and Crossland.
With time running down on NAPA, Grace Wixson took one for the team and helped her team pull out a 8-7 win with a RBI hit-by-pitch.
Sonic jumped out early, taking some advantage of the usual softball wildness and Trista Nickelson connected on a RBI single en route to a 5-0 lead.
Aside from the Crossland triple, NAPA struggled offensively early on against Sonic pitcher Taylor Hurt and totaled five strikeouts in the first two frames, causing NAPA head coach Jackie Orender to say “You’ve got to rattle some bats. We helped her out.” Nickelson also made a catch at third to get Sonic out of the second with no harm done.
The NAPA bats awakened in the third — Lexi Shriver and Allyson Newport used their challenging strike zone to their advantage and reached base on walks. Then, came the top of the NAPA order and the big hits.
Wixson reached on an infield single, plating Shriver and causing Orender to enthuse “Nice hustle, nice wheels, that’s the way you play.”
Emily Imhof continued the theme of hustle, as she lived out the old Wee Willie Keeler adage of hitting ‘em where they ain’t and turned an infield single into an infield double. Her hit scored Newport.
That’s when Crossland hit a two-run double and she used her wheels to take an extra base. “Heads up, Kaitlin,” Orender said.
NAPA closed out the third with six runs to gain a 6-5 edge.
Sonic regained the lead in the fourth with two runs on no hits. On a dropped third strike, Alexis Pepper hustled down the line and a bad throw to first spurred her down to second. Two wild pitches later, Pepper scored the tying run. Alexis Newby reached base and scored in a similar fashion as Pepper.
The bottom half of the fourth echoed the top half and NAPA managed to load the bases and score consecutive runs by hit-by-pitch.
NAPA ended the regular season 9-3 and Sonic 4-8.
Pittsburg Fastpitch Softball
at PSU Softball Complex, Field 3
Page 2 of 2 - NAPA 8, Sonic Drive-In 7
SON 500 2 — 7
NAPA 006 2 — 8
3B: Kaitlin Crossland. 2B: Emily Imhof, Crossland. SB: Cheyanne Hunt; Taylor Wixson, Carissa Marrone. HBP: Lexi Shriver, Allyson Newport, Grace Wixson.