Cinderella Wears CleatsSouth Dakota Renegades (Valley City, N.D.) coach Michael Mook felt like he was dreaming as he watched his team get the final out in a 4-1 upset over No. 1 Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson (Mobile, Ala.) to secure a berth in the PGF 16U Premier National Championship gameon Friday night at Huntington Beach Sports Complex.
"Unbelievable," Mook said. "I told our kids I feel like I'm sleeping right now. I don't want the alarm to go off if I am."
The Renegades went undefeated to reach the semifinals against the Thunderbolts, ranked No. 1 in the nation by FloSoftball. The Bolts came out of the loser's bracket, so they needed to beat the Renegades twice. The accomplished one victory by edging the Renegades, 3-2, on Mackenzie Nutt's walk-off sacrifice fly to center field that scored Mary Katherine Tedder in the bottom of the 10th.
The Renegades got an outstanding effort from lefty Emma Hardin, who held the Bolts to four hits and one unearned run in seven innings before South Dakota State-commit Grace Glanzer went in for relief in ITB (international tiebreaker) in the eighth inning. Glazer gave up no hits, but the Bolts were able to get two runs on sacrifice flies. The first run came in the bottom of th eighth when Kendall Sides sacrifice fly to right field drove in Mekhi Mayfield, who ran over the Renegades' catcher like a running back blowing up a defensive back in football, to extend the game.
Glanzer started the second game and turned in a stellar performance to shut down the Bolts, a team that is loaded with SEC-bound players. Glanzer gave up no walks and allowed two hits to get the complete game win that sent the Renegades to the PGF national title game.
"I thought both of our pitchers threw very well against just a really good team," Mook said. "Any time you are facing hitters of that caliber, you are just hoping to keep the game down to single digits. For them to come out and throw as well as they did against a great team like that over there, I mean, our pitchers threw really well."
Glanzer gave up a solo homer to Mayfield in the bottom of the fifth and then retired the final seven batters to secure the victory.
"They're a good team and we knew that right off the bat," Glanzer said. "We knew it was going to be tough. The first game we played them we didn't come out right away and we made some mistakes throughout the game, but the best thing we can do is bounce back and from that loss we knew we just had to come back and forget about it, make some adjustments and that's what we did. We're a good team. We were going to come back at some point and that's what we did."
With Glanzer throwing so well, the Renegades' offense really put the pressure on the Bolts with a three-run rally in the top of the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Carley Goetschius and Glanzer led off the inning with back-to-back singles. With two outs, Cylie Halvorson got an RBI single and Sydney Nelson added a two-run single.
After Mayfield's homer for the Bolts in the bottom of the fifth, Hardin connected on a solo shot to right field for the Renegades to make it 4-1.
The Renegades, whose only committed player is Glanzer, play Beverly Bandits-Conroy (Orland Park, Ill.), ranked No. 2 in the nation, for the 16U premier national title on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Deanna Manning Stadium at Bill Barber Park in Irvine, Calif.
"We work really hard at practice all year round and all our goal is to win national championship," Glanzer said.
The Bandits, who are the only undefeated team left in the tournament, needed one game to dispatch Jersey Intensity-Hawkins (Farmingdale, N.J.), 11-0, in five innings via the mercy rule in the other semifinal.
They have not given up a run since Wednesday.
Sara Jubas went 2 for 4 with one run and three RBIs, Oregon-commit Lauren Burke went 1 for 4 with a run and two RBIs, Michigan-commit Hannah Carson went 3 for 3 with two RBI. James Madison-commit Hallie Hall went 1 for 4 with an RBI. Loyola-commit Madison Ebeling went 3 for 3 with a double, two runs and three RBIs. Loyola-commit Danielle Williams went 2 for 3 with two runs to lead the Bandits' offense. Northwestern-commit Kenna Wilkey shut out the Intensity on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
There are three other PGF national champions that will be crowned on Saturday at Deanna Manning Stadium. Grapettes-Guevara (Stockton, Calif.) face Birmingham Thunderbolts 01-Dorsett/Burt (Helena, Ala.) for the 14U Platinum title at 10:30 a.m., Firecrackers-Brashear (Ontario, Calif.) take on Midwest Speed Gold (St. Louis Parkm Minne.) for the 16U Platinum championship at 1 p.m. and So Cal Athletics-Mercado/Smith (Corona, Calif.) go up against Corona Angels-Marty (Corona, Calif.) for the 14U Premier national championship at 4 p.m.
In other PGF 16U Premier games:
Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson (Mobile, Ala.) 6, Cal Nuggets (Rwood City, Calif.) 0Alabama-commit Kendall Sides went 2 for 3 with a triple, two stolen bases and three runs, Mississippi State-commit Kayla Boseman went 2 for 3 with a double, a run and three RBI and Mississippi State-commit O'Neil Roberson went 2 for 3 with two RBI as the Bolts avengedThursday's loss to the Nuggets to advance to the Final Four.
Mississippi State-commit Grace Fagan and Boseman combined on a two-hitter.
Jersey Intensity-Hawkins (Farmingdale, N.J.) 6, Sorcerer-Williams 2Reggie Kanagawa, who got the complete game win and hit a solo homer. Lindsey Hay had a two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth to break a 1-1 tie and the Intensity went on to beat Sorcerer to punch its ticket to the Final Four.
Beverly Bandits-Conroy (Orland Park, Ill.) 6, Cal Nuggets (Redwood City) 0Michigan-commit Meghan Beaubien tossed a one-hitter with nine strikeouts to lead the Bandits past the Nuggets in the winner's bracket and into the Final Four.
Beaubien was perfect through four innings before giving up a triple to UC Santa Barbara-bound Mailey McLemore to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Then she retired the final six batters to secure the win.
Oregon-commit Lauren Burke went 2 for 3 with three RBI to lead the Bandits' offense.
South Dakota Renegades (Valley City, N.D.) 4, Sorcerer-Williams (Pleasanton, Calif.) 1Grace Glanzer scattered four hits and struck out five to get the complete game win over Sorcerer in the winner's bracket to move the Renegades into the Final Four.
Jersey Intensity-Hawkins (Farmingdale, N.J.) 3, Suncats (Oro Valley, Ariz.) 1Alana Vawter homered and got the complete game win to lead Intensity to the loser's bracket victory and into the Final Six.
Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson (Mobile, Ala.) 2, East Cobb Bullets-Biele (Johns Creek, Ga.) 1Mississippi State-commit O'Neil Roberson drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth, Auburn-commit Jenna Olszewski made a diving catch in left field in the seventh and Mississippi State-commit Grace Fagan got the complete game win to lead the Bolts into the Final Six.
PGF 16U PREMIER NATIONALS SCOREBOARD AT HUNTINGTON BEACH SPORTS COMPLEXFRIDAY, AUG. 5, RESULTS
Beverly Bandits-Conroy 6, Cal Nuggets 0
South Dakota Renegades 4, Sorcerer-Williams 1
Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson 2, East Cobb Bullets-Biele 1
Jersey Intensity-Hawkins 3, AZ Suncats 1
Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson 6, Cal Nuggets 0
Jersey Intensity-Hawkins 4, Sorcerer-Williams 1
Beverly Bandits-Conroy 11, Jersey Intensity-Hawkins 0
Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson 3, South Dakota Renegades 2 (10 innings)
(Game 2) South Dakota Renegades 4, Birmingham Thunderbolts '99-Roberson 1
Watch all of the PGF Nationals Championship Action on FloSoftball starting Saturday, August 6 at 10:30 AM PST