By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Over the Marion Bridge in West Salem, the bracket play for the 14B Western Nationals were starting up early Wednesday morning at the Wallace Marine Sports Park.
And as three games were going on, including the Silver Falls Fusion 14U squad against Santa Maria from Southern California, the bats were rolling early as they built a 8-1 lead entering the third inning against the Renegades.
“Offensively, I feel like we did pretty good today compare to how we’ve been doing, I think we really stepped it up,” said Marin Bliss, who went 2-for-3 for 4RBIs in the tournament opener for the team.
After a successful start on defense led by Mila Perez, Tilly Hefley stepped in and produced two great innings against Santa Maria with the lead now up to 12-3 entering the final inning during the sixth inning. But the Renegades did not make it easy on the Fusion in the bottom half of the final half of the inning to close out the game.
During the inning, similar to what happened to close out pool play Tuesday against Clairmont, Sliver Falls saw their lead dwindle down one-run at a time. Hit-by-pitch, error, two-RBI double that was followed by a long-delay over a dropped third strike that eventually led to three more runs scoring with a double and a triple.
“I feel like we struggled a bit, I personally struggled a bit and I felt like I could have done better,” said Hefley. “We did good in compare to most of the time where we struggled shutting the door.”
Hefley was moved to first base with Perez returning to the circle to close out the game with runners in the corners and Perez forced a groundout for the first out of the inning as the girls try to shut the door for their first-win of the Western National Tournament. The groundball yielded a run and two errors got a runner on third base but the Fusion did get another out and then the third to hold off the Renegades for the 12-10 win to open the Western Nationals Tournament Bracket Play Wednesday morning.
“I think I did better today because I did my best not to get too mad when I messed up or something compared to yesterday, I got mad,” laughed Bliss as they moved on to the second game of the tournament versus the 2018 14U Gold All-Stars.
“We just got to come out and battle and try our best to keep our chins up and go in as hard as we can,” adds Hefley as they prepared for their 5pm game.
Hefley redeemed herself in the circle against the Gold All-Stars, striking out four in six innings while her and Jenna Hopkins had team-high’s in hits with two each. Hopkins drove in the lone Fusion RBI in the second game, but the 2018 14U Gold All-Stars took advantage of their 11 hits when they needed to over the six hits that Sliver Falls had in the 7-1 game.
The loss drops the Fusion into the elimination bracket as Silver Falls plays again Thursday afternoon at 1pm against the winner of Mountain Dream and Santee.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald