2022 PGF National Championships 16U/18U

Dominant Pitching Powers Thunderbolts To PGF National Championship

Dominant Pitching Powers Thunderbolts To PGF National Championship

In a low scoring game, Birmingham Thunderbolts came away with the victory for the 2022 PGF 18U Premier National Championship.

Jul 31, 2022 by Kyle Kensing
Dominant Pitching Powers Thunderbolts To PGF National Championship

The pop Marlie Giles’ bat made as it connected with a pitch about belt-high had forecasted the inevitable. With a single swing, Giles mashed a two-run homer over the left-field wall, sealing the Birmingham Thunderbolts PGF 18U Premier national championship. 

Birmingham plated four unanswered runs after a quiet offensive start in the July 30 title round, the last of which came in a decisive top of the sixth inning. Giles’ blast drove in Gracie Hillman to cap the scoring in a 4-1 Thunderbolts win over Select Fastpitch. 

It was also the second home run of the afternoon after Kenleigh Cahalan hit a solo shot in the fourth inning for the club’s first run of the day. 

Predictably, the two teams battled in a pitchers’ duel for the initial three innings. Select Fastpitch’s Marissa McCann, who was vital to the club advancing to the championship, pitched 6 ⅔ innings and yielded nothing through three. 

McCann received some early run support when Emma Durr drove in Taylor Cruse with a double in the bottom of the second. It was Select Fastpitch’s only run of the afternoon, as starter Alea Johnson rarely even afforded the batters from Kansas City to put balls into play. 

Birmingham continued its tournament-long dominance from the circle, which included Charli Orsini’s array of power and placement, leaving Select Fastpitch batters guessing. 

A tumultuous bottom of the seventh for the Thunderbolts gave Select Fastpitch hope, however, with two outs. Siera Hoekstra knocked a laser line drive into center field to load the bases and set up a potential, game-winning scenario. 

McKenna-Raye Dark recorded the final out and sealed the championship. 

The pitching clinic on Saturday concluded a run through bracket play in which Birmingham did not allow more than two runs the entire way. The Thunderbolts held opponents to five runs in total through the bracket. 

In addition to stellar pitching, Birmingham’s offensive persistence paid off. Giles doubled before her game-changing home run, and Gracie Hillman twice got on base leading to runs. Hillman’s base-running in the sixth inning proved instrumental to the late-game deluge, as she stole both second and third before scoring on a wild pitch.