By Tamas Mondovics
Following a five-game tourney, the undefeated Bloomingdale Blaze 12U softball team won the state championship and a chance to represent the community and Florida in the upcoming Babe Ruth Softball 12U World Series beginning Thursday, August 7 in Alachua.
The girls’ chance to advance beyond the state borders comes after its first season playing in Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken after the league’s recent switch from Little League including a great performance during the 2014 Florida State Championship held in Lake City last month, hosted by Santa Fe Babe Ruth Softball.
According to league representatives, the girls went undefeated winning all three district games before advancing to the state tourney, where they scored a total of 65 runs in the five games played and only allowing one earned run and three unearned runs to score by their opponents. The Blaze began to dominate the tourney with Emma Cooper and Maddie Droz teaming up for a no-hitter in game one, while teammates Trinity Howard led with three RBI’s; Kaia LoPreste, Lindsey Harper, and Taylor Bryers each contributed with two RBI’s for a final score of 17-0.
In game two, Ashley Ullom and Kacey Fultz teamed up for another no-hitter joined by LoPreste, who led with four RBI’s including a three-run homerun supported by Maddie Pena who added three RBI’s for the 17-2 win.
Game three RBI leaders included Harper, LoPreste and Jada Smallwood who ended the game on an unassisted double play for a final score of 8-0.
Game four sported Bailee Leistl two RBIs leading the team to earn another strong, 12-2 win, bringing the girls to their championship game which saw Cooper as the winning pitcher. Smallwood, Fultz, Howard, Leistl and Pena each contributed an RBI to earn the team its 11-0 state title game victory.
“Winning the championship is the best feeling in the world because our hard work has paid off,” Smallwood, 12, said. “I was unsure of the competition going into state, but we continued to play well and we came out on top.”
It is noteworthy that in the eight post-season games, the Blaze have allowed just two earned runs while winning seven by means of the 10-run rule.
Bloomingdale will be one of 20 teams at the Babe Ruth World Series and will need to place in the top 12 (from pool play) to advance to double elimination competition.
“It’s been a lot of work,” said Bloomingdale Blaze Head Coach DJ Pena. “But we have been very solid with our pitching and timely with hitting.”
Anyone who would like to support or donate to the girls’ trip and expenses to the World Series, visit, http://www.gofundme.com/b59s2c.