By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The pressure was on for sure as the Salem Aftershock 16A squad opened the Electric Pink bracket of the Stars-and-Stripes tournament Sunday morning at Wallace Marine Park.
Opening the tournament against the Sandy Thunder, a single loss would end their day in the single-elimination tournament. But behind their strong defense with Anesia Ainam in the circle, the Aftershock were able to set the pace offensively in their 14-3 bracket opening win over the Thunder.
“It’s really helpful, especially struggling a little bit throughout the game. Just having the defense and the girls back there who will defensively play well,” said Ainam, who pitched five innings in the run-ruled game to start Sunday.
Salem opened the game with a four-run first inning, but the Aftershock allowed a two-run inning in the third that allowed Sandy to hang out entering the fourth inning only up 4-2 against the Thunder.
But with two five-run innings in the fourth and fifth innings, the Aftershock followed their initial earthquake with those two strong aftershocks to pull away from Sandy in the Bracket opener.
“It’s the best feeling, I love it. It’s what makes me love about tournament ball,” Ainam said after the first game. “I think it’s super important, I think we’re going to do really well offensively. We struggled a little bit in earlier tournaments this year and I think we showed really how hard we’ve worked in the upper brackets.
Salem had a little break before taking on the Aloha Breeze 18U team in the semi-final round of the bracket. Ainam and Ashlyn Bigham drove in the lone runs of the game during the fifth and sixth innings, but their defense carried over as Aliyah Wiley struck out eight over six innings.
Their defensive stronghold carried into the championship game against the South Valley Storm 14U with their bats coming around once more as they scored six runs in the third of their 11-3 Championship Game sealing win. Ainam had three RBI’s in the win while Alexis Jensen, Kacey Jordan and Taylor Suarez each had two RBI’s each in the Championship win Sunday afternoon.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald