Two losses early Wednesday morning for the 18u East Cobb Bullets-Biele put them out of contention of the top bracket at TC/USA Nationals, but that didn’t mean they lacked for motivation later in the day.
Down early to the Wichita Mustangs, East Cobb whittled away to tie the game in the fifth inning and ultimately utilized a gritty effort in the sixth to leapfrog the Mustangs, 5-2, to advance in the 18u Gold Bracket.
“This team never quits,” said head coach Andrew Biele. “We almost came from behind earlier today and we ended up pulling it off in this one. We’re a very young team and one thing we told them is that it’s all about energy and it’s all about heart.”
East Cobb tasted its first bout with adversity early in its matchup against the Mustangs. Three base hits in the first inning led to two runs for Wichita, handing the team from Kansas the early lead, 2-0.
Undeterred, East Cobb kept plugging away. Things started to develop slowly offensively, but more importantly, things started to settle down defensively.
“I did not want to let my team down in this game,” said starting pitcher Angelina Biele. “Everyone was a little down after this morning. I knew if I could amp the team up a little, it would have a domino effect.”
Leadoff hitter Arielle Oda echoed the same sentiments.
“The key is to stay optimistic,” said Oda. “We’ve dealt with everything, including multiple injuries. We just needed to stay positive and play softball the way we knew how.”
The Bullets’ dynamite duo, who will both be sporting their talents in the ACC at Duke University in the coming seasons, began to spark life into their team.
Biele went to work in the circle, knocking down batters left and right. In the fourth inning, a stolen base, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Paige Cook. Cook’s sacrifice fly put the first run on the board for the Bullets, cutting the lead in half.
An inning later, Oda conjured up her speed, reaching on a bunt single for the second time in three at-bats. Oda finished 2-3 with two runs scores. Two batters later, a fielder’s choice from Chandler Dennis tied the game at two.
“We have it in us if we just stay together,” said Oda. “We had a plan going in and we knew if we just stayed calm and executed, good things were going to happen.”
Behind a rock-solid performance from Biele, East Cobb’s offense was back to the plate in the sixth inning looking for its first lead of the ballgame. Felise Collins showcased her speed and fooled Wichita with a bunt single to open up the frame. Mia Jenkings was up to the task, driving in Collins to take the 3-2 advantage.
The Bullets weren’t done, though. Oda climbed aboard with a hit-by-pitch, allowing Leea Hanks to come through with a two-RBI single, stretching the lead, 5-2.
Trouble started brewing in the bottom half of the sixth inning. A lead-off single, a walk and two stolen bases had Wichita threatening to get themselves back in the contest. By that time, Chandler Dennis had come in to pitch. Not only did Dennis finish off the sixth swiftly, but her 1-2-3 seventh inning sealed the deal on East Cobb’s victory.
“It’s been a long season for us,” said coach Biele. “We’ve used the NFL mentality ‘next man up’ because we’ve had so many injuries. To see these girls be such good teammates and enjoy one another’s success has been really exciting to watch.”
East Cobb continues its journey through TC/USA Nationals. The Bullets will matchup against Texas Glory-Adkins at 8 a.m. at Taylor Sports Complex. A win would put the Georgia natives in the 18u Gold Bracket championship, not bad for a team fresh off a championship appearance in Triple Crown’s Fireworks tournament just over a week ago.
Tags: Austin, TC Fastpitch, TC/USA Nationals, Texas, Triple Crown Sports