Rogue FC Mabrey 14u had run-down start, now running wild in reaching TC Nationals semis
By Kyle Koso
MIRA LOMA, CA – A lot of pent-up production is now flowing freely for the Rogue FC Mabrey 14u squad.
After being outscored 16-1 in two Wednesday losses at the TC Nationals event, the Rogue have tapped into their better selves in making a run into the championship bracket semifinals, bouncing the OC Batbusters Hudson/Stern team by a 14-2 margin Saturday at the Big League Dreams-Riverside Complex. The Rogue have won four straight games and outscored their opponents, 46-11.
They’ll face Athletics Mercado/Berni on Sunday at 8 a.m. for a berth in the title game, set for 4:30 p.m. at Chino Hills Community Park.
Those first games in the tournament are really designed as practice games, but that didn’t make the sight of the struggles terribly comforting.
“We played everybody, tried to do some stuff, but at the end of the day we never got it going. It’s happened, but we are not a team that will ever quit or let one game define us,” said Rogue coach Todd Mabrey.
Saturday, both teams looked ready to dig in for the chance to advance, with the Rogue taking a 2-0 lead on an infield error with two outs in the second inning. Ashannalee Titiali singled and scored for the Batbusters in the third to make it 2-1, and the Rogue countered in the fifth on a run-scoring groundout from Sienna Caro, on a disciplined at-bat where she looked determined to keep the ball out of the air.
But the key play of the game arguably happened in the bottom of the fourth – right after the Rogue turned to relief pitcher Kendall Cochran, the infield turned an unlikely double play to end the frame.
“That was a huge energy breaker for the other team. And in our dugout, that’s what got us really hyped,” Caro said. “We had a rough start; the pitchers started really working hard and the dugout started giving more energy. That’s when we started hitting, and it was contagious.”
“That (double play) really helped; momentum switches are always a big key,” Mabrey added. “The girls are always ready, they know where to go with the ball and what to do with it, and I tip my hat to the girls for knowing what to do. Coach it up in practice, it comes through in the games.”
The score was still super tight, 3-2, when the Batbusters got an RBI double from Mattea Stern in the bottom of the fifth, but the dam burst impressively for the Rogue in the sixth as they plated 11 runs on seven hits, two walks and a couple of errors. The frame was capped by a grand slam off the bat of Charleigh Schuettler to center field.
“I was just waiting for my pitch today; I wasn’t going to swing at anything soft unless I was behind,” said Schuettler, who drove in two more runs with a double in the sixth. “I was looking to see it, drive it and put up some runs. Something has clicked for us – the bats are on fire, and we’re looking for our pitches and driving the ball.”