By Kyle Koso
LAKE ELSINORE, CA – When a pitcher has to face an opposing lineup on consecutive days, there is no time to cook up a bunch of magical changes.
Making the old look new again – that’s the trick.
For the LTG Henderson/Lively 16u squad, pitcher Avery Seva figured out a way to do spell-binding work Friday in 16u action at the TC Nationals event, holding down Cal Nuggets Woods over seven tough innings in weighty weather conditions for a 4-1 victory at the Rosetta Park Sports Complex. LTG remains alive in the loser’s bracket and can claim a spot in the weekend’s championship chase with a win Saturday against NW Bullets-Muir.
Thursday, LTG got past the Nuggets by a 6-5 score, which meant Seva pulled off quite the surprise Friday by essentially shutting down foes who knew what she had up her dirty, sweaty sleeve.
“This is the hardest part of travel ball in the summer; we all get tired, pitchers get tired, so winning for my team and putting every energy into each pitch is the biggest thing I try to do,” said Seva, a Santa Clara commit who allowed four hits and two walks to go with six strikeouts over seven innings of determined work. “I felt petty solid; I knew it was a close game and they could come back at any moment. I still had to be very focused.”
“The (Nuggets) put together a strong performance against us earlier – for her to dig down and make some adjustments, well, she did a great job and has pitched well this whole tournament,” said LTG coach Joe Henderson. “It’s down to us needing to win to reach our goal, to play for the championship, and she’s really helped us get there.”
LTG jumped ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning when the first six batters reached base and Nailyn Marshall (Cal), Maddie Ullensvang and Sydney Barker had RBI hits. On the downside, two runners were thrown out on the base paths, minimizing what could have been a haymaker punch.
The game stayed tight and got even more snug when Carly Cummings tripled and scored in the fifth for the Nuggets.
“That’s a hard one. We tend to be very aggressive and we really push the envelope,” Henderson said. “This is a team that’s fun to watch because we try to do unique things. The Nuggets made a great relay on one play, perfect throw to get us out, but I’ll take that. I’ll do it over and over.”
In the hope for some elbow room on the scoreboard, Barker came through with a long, strong homer to left-center on an unfavorable count to push the score to 4-1 in the sixth inning.
“What happened in the first inning, I think that lit a fire under our butts. We knew we had to come back, make adjustments, and it motivated all of us to keep pushing,” Barker said. “On the (home run), I’ve been focusing on reading the pitch from the hip, reading the spin, and it was an 0-2 count. I was protecting, choking up a bit, looking to hit anything that was in the zone.”
“She has been really clutch for us in so many occasions and is definitely one of the leaders on this team,” Henderson added. “She plays a phenomenal shortstop; she plays with so much passion and made great strides. She’s a great hitter, and to put that on the scoreboard when she did gave us some breathing room.”
Tatum Silva (Utah State) had three hits for LTG.