For two days the Tulsa Elite Invite was marred by bad weather that made scheduling games almost impossible for tournament officials.
That all came to an end Saturday when for the first time the Invitational had a full day of action. With the games shortened to one hour and 15 minutes, all 96 teams got in work in front of dozens of college coaches and scouts.
Demarini Aces Black 5, Impact Gold National Jazz 1 (16U)
The Aces came into the tourney with seven players who have already committed to future schools. That included pitcher Tatum Clopton (Oklahoma State/2021).
But it was Impact Gold who struck first when catcher Olivia Johnson (2021) laced a liner into left field that hit the top of the fence and fell back into the field of play. Johnson, who is listed as undecided, turned the hit into an RBI double.
Clopton was able to get out of the inning without allowing any more damage.
However, the Aces wasted no time getting back in the game in the bottom of the inning when catcher Zoe Caryl (2021) smashed a two-run homer over the centerfield fence off Impact’s Megan Lee (Houston).
Trailing 3-1, Impact Gold had a runner on third with a chance to close the gap. But Demarini Aces’ relief pitcher Mac Morgan (Arizona State/2021) was able to close the door on the inning without giving up a run.
Georgia Rea (2021) blasted a two-homer in the fourth inning to put the aces up 5-1.
Tulsa Elite OKC 2023 1 Texas Blaze United 0 (14U)
Blaze starting pitcher Kenzie Jones (2023) had a strong start. After allowing a leadoff hit, she was able to get the next three batters out. Jones came back in the second inning and was able to do the same.
Kyleigh Moore (2023), who got the start for Tulsa Elite, was just as effective. In her few innings of work, the right-hander didn’t allow a runner past second.
Both pitching staffs relied on their defense for support that included Tulsa Elite shortstop, Riley Jo Sharp.
“They are a really good offensive team,” Sharp said. “Our defense helped a lot more because they had very timely hits. But we stopped them from going in gaps and it helped us a lot.”
With a runner at second, Tulsa Elite’s Maci George (2024) sent a shot past the Texas Blaze second baseman that scored the first run of the game.
In the top of the fifth, the Blaze attempted to answer back with runners at first and third, London Minnix (2024) came to the plate. Minnix lifted a pop fly into left field that looked like it was going to drop but left fielder Abby Wood (2024), made an impressive diving catch to end the inning.
“You just have to fight for your pitcher because she is the one that makes it happen,” Sharp said. “Her fighting for that in a pitcher battle, us going through and just making defensive plays helps a lot with her and helps her confidence.”
Texas Blaze Prinzo 2, St. Louis Chaos Mohan 0 (16U)
With two runners on, Alexa Davis (2020) had a chance to put the Chaos on the board to start the contest. But Blaze pitcher Payton Bean (2021) shut down Davis and then fanned Abagail Chipps (2020) to end the threat.
STL Chaos gave Sydney Baalman (2020) the start but Blaze got to her when Mackenzie Vasquez (2020, Notre) sent a double into center field that scored Camryn Robillard (2021).
Missy Muras followed up with double into center field to score Vasquez from second who slid under the tag at home.
With a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, Ariana Martinez (2021) came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs Davis didn’t give in striking out Martinez swinging.
In the bottom of the fourth, Chaos had runners on second and third and only one out on the board. Bean ended the threat with a line out and pop out.
“Softball is not necessarily about no fear. But it’s about harnessing that fear and making it into a better performance,” Bean said. “I think all I did was take the butterflies, he nervousness and gave it my all and hoped for the best. It turned out well.”
Bean admitted, “There are definitely some pitches I could clean up and the conditions were not ideal. But I battled and I feel pretty good about it. I showed my rise ball is on point and that in some tedious conditions I can keep my own and keep my head level.”
Oklahoma Athletics Premier Madden 3, Tulsa Elite 2021 0
The Athletics had the bases loaded in the bottom of the first with Shannon Pursell (2021) at the plate. But Bailie Runner (2021) was able to battle out of the situation and struck out Pursell.
In the bottom of the third inning, McKenzie Wagoner (2020, Liberty) clocked a solo homer off Runner to give the Athletics a 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Athletics Noa Dodson knocked in a run to give Athletics a three-run cushion.
Iowa Premier Christensen 4, Texas Glory Naudin 4
Iowa grabbed the early lead on a Chloe Woldruff (2021) RBI single in the top of the first inning.
Glory came back in the bottom of the inning and immediately put pressure on pitcher Josey Marron (2022). With Toni McInnis (2021, Kansas) and Micaela Wark (2021, Houston) on base, Sydney Lewis (2022) crushed a double into center field that plated two runs for Texas Glory.
“Sydney’s approach is insane,” McInnis said of her teammate. “She goes up and just has such a good mentality. Even if she gets behind, she still makes sure that she stays up on her herself. She has always been a really solid hitter.”
Marron limited the damage by striking out the next two batters.
In the top of the second, a single from Iowa’s Isabella Dean (2022) and an error on the Texas outfield put runners at second and third for Emma Christensen (2022).
Christensen slapped an infield fielders choice to score the runner from third. Iowa then scored another run on an attempted double steal.
Iowa Gold tacked on another run to extend to a 4-2 lead.
However, Cierra Simon (2021) closed the gap to 4-3 with an RBI single for Texas Glory.
McInnis then came up with a chance to tie the game or give Glory the lead when she delivered an RBI double into centerfield.
“I think about my teammates,” McInnis said on her clutch hit. “Just going in there with the right mentality and especially working the count. You already know that with the pitcher and the entire defense, the pressure is put up all around. So just working the defense and the count and try and get in their head.”