by Jason Hanes
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Reese Mosolino twirled a gem in the circle and Haley Schatko launched a pair of homers as Indiana Magic Gold National Bennett/Goddard (Carmel, Ind.) held on to top Virginia Unity 14U Johnson (Ruther Glen, Va.) 5-2 to win the Triple Crown Nationals 14u Championship on Thursday afternoon at North Park.
Both teams had early jitters, but it was Indiana Magic Gold that took advantage. A throwing error to start the inning and a wild pitch two batters later put a runner on third for Ellie Goddard. Her swing to put the ball in play rattled her hand, but the ground ball to short allowed the run to score and make it 1-0.
The early run immediately took the pressure off Mosolino and allowed the hurler to be at ease.
“It felt good to know that my team had my back and they were going to produce runs and I didn’t have to worry if (Virginia Unity) got a run," she said. "It would be fine and my team would come back and get me another run."
The score stayed the same until the fourth when Schatko put a charge into an offering and sent it sailing over the fence in dead center to double the lead.
“From my first at bat to my second, I just adjusted my approach and how I swung,” Schatko said. “I realized I could see the ball well. I was waiting for my pitch and tried not to be too aggressive, but at the same time, be aggressive enough to where the pitcher didn’t beat me.”
Indiana Magic Gold would work to manufacture another run in the inning to push the pressure. Using a hit, a walk, and stolen bases to put runners on second and third, Hadley West’s fly ball to left was deep enough to bring home Natalie Hester with the sacrifice fly, stretching the lead to three.
A major miscue would shove the lead up to four for Indiana Magic Gold National. With a runner on first, a squibber in front of the plate would be thrown wildly down the right field line. The throw back in from the outfield would also get away, allowing Makayla Watson to score all the way from first to make it 4-0.
Schatko would find another pitch she liked in the sixth to extend the lead. The righty turned on an offering and drove it down the line in left for a solo shot to start the inning.
"It felt really good to hit the ball hard again, and it felt really nice to pull the inside pitch,” she added.
That would be the final run for Indiana Magic Gold National, as Mosolino worked to hold the five-run lead over the final two innings. Virginia Unity would get its first run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double. Then in the seventh, the designated home team would score and get the tying run to the plate with two out in the inning.
Indiana Magic Gold had one last trick up its sleeve as Grace Swedarsky entered into the game to try to close the door. The Championship MVP needed just one pitch to earn the save, getting a foul out to end the game.
“Both of our pitchers really compliment each other so well,” said head coach Jeff Goddard. “I wanted Reese to have a chance to finish the game, but I knew that Grace could get the last out.”
The win enabled the squad from Indiana to claim a title at the National level.
“I just hope they stay hungry,” coach Goddard said. “Some games, we got out on top early and we had to hold the lead. Some games, we got down early and fought back. Almost every single game, someone new stepped up to come through with clutch hits or clutch pitching. If we keep trusting the process, they can really do some special things.”
Indiana Magic Gold Bennett/Goddard
Grace Swedarsky - MVP
Virginia Unity Johnson
OC Batbusters Fernandez
OC Batbusters Stith