By Jeremy McDonald
MEDFORD, Ore.– The NW Vandals 16U squad made the most of their final three games of the Fall Season, playing team ball to the USA Softball Fall Classic Lower Bracket Gold Championship Sunday night at US Cellular Softball Fields in South Medford.
The last two games, led by the arm of one Payton Burnham. Ending her Fall season on a high-note following a tough season up to the Vandals Semi-Final game against the NW Nitro-Mace 18A.
In the 6-0 shutout win, Burnham had struck out nine in five innings, allowing two hits in the victory as Kinley Pappas led the offense with 2-for-2 hitting in the Semi-Final win.
“It feels really good, especially since I haven’t been pitching as well the last couple of weeks and to finally come out of that (today) was pretty nice,” said Burnham.
Their Semi-final and Final game were delayed by the team they would eventually play in the Championship game in C-4 Redding Fastpitch 18U. A California team that featured several college freshmen on it, the squad had won back-to-back international tiebreaking games to reach the Gold Championship game against the Vandals; presenting that scrappiness that the Vandals were aware of entering the game and during.
But the young 16A squad would jump on their Golden State counterparts, leading 6-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. It was a complete team-effort to keep the C-4 squad from coming back, holding them to two runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Burnham complied ten strikeouts and her defense backed her up in the process.
“I feel like we did pretty good. Yesterday we started off a little bit rough,” smiled Hallie Olson. “But I feel like we were all stayed as a team and we got the bats going early in stuff.”
The Vandals went 1-1-1 Saturday. Their loss to the Red Heat, who won the upper division Silver bracket Sunday night against the Oregon Blaze Gold and had tied with Game Day before wheeling off four wins Sunday.
Lacey Vasas had a solo home run in the Top of the third, one of her two hits in the Championship game. Vasas, Pappas and Margo McManus each had two hits in the Final to pace the offense.
Runs were hard to come by, but the Vandals defense were equally as tough. In the final inning, after surrendering a lead-off walk, Burnham turned a pop-out to Desirae Hatfield, picked up her ninth strikeout out and got a put-out at first to end the game.
“We definitely needed the defense, that’s very important to us. I’m very, very fortunate to have them behind me playing as well as they did,” said Burnham, who struck out 18 in 12 innings. “The offense was really good. It started off slow this morning, but then our bats picked up and it was a extremely good game.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald