The two Arizona teams in the ASA 18u Gold Nationals in Oklahoma City were eliminated Saturday.
Arizona Desert Thunder -- which beat Nebraska Gold 3-0 then lost to Jersey Intensity 1-0 -- finished tied for ninth. The Arizona Hotshots lost to the Gold Coast Hurricanes 2-0 and finished tied for 13th.
One California team with an Arizona player, the Worth Firecrackers with Leah White of Horizon High School, ended the day undefeated. White scored the winning run in the eighth inning as the Firecrackers made it to the winners' bracket final on Sunday. The Firecrackers were scheduled to play Sorcerer Gold-Phil.
Another California team with an Arizona player, the California Cruisers with Basha star Samantha Parlich, was eliminated and finished tied for seventh.
Kenzie Fowler threw a two-hitter and struck out six as the Thunder won Saturday morning, eliminating the Nebraska Gold. Sara Sandoval was 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Kelsey Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Shannel Blackshear went 2-for-4. Vanessa Alvarez went 1-for-2 with an RBI, and Fowler went 1-for-3 and drove in a run.
Sandoval led off the game with a double. Rodriguez reached on an error, and Sandoval scored on the play. Blackshear singled, and Rodriguez advanced to second. After a passed ball, Rodriguez scored on a single by Fowler.
The Thunder added a run in the third. Rodriguez bunted for a single. Blackshear doubled to center, Rodriguez moving to third. Alvarez plated Rodriguez with a fly out.
Fowler didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning and Nebraska never threatened.
She ran into trouble early against the Jersey Intensity, however. After getting the first out, Fowler yielded two singles. Both runners moved up when she was called for an illegal pitch. Gabby Luciani came in to relieve. Amy Buntin hit a sacrifice fly to score a run – and that’s all Jersey needed.
The Thunder managed just three hits – singles by Rodriguez, Asher and Molly Smith. The Thunder’s best scoring opportunity came in the sixth when Rodriguez reached on a bunt and stole second. Fowler walked, but both runners were stranded.
Dallas Escobedo pitched another strong game for the Hotshots, giving up two hits and two unearned runs in the sixth inning of a loss to the Gold Coast Hurricanes. An error extended the bottom of the sixth. With two out, Brittany Castro doubled – the only extra base hit of the game for either team.
Brigette Del Ponte was 2-for-3 for the Hotshots and Katelyn Boyd was 1-for-3.
The Firecrackers opened the day against the Cruisers and won a 6-5 thriller in nine innings.
White pinch ran and scored two runs, including one in the eighth inning. Parlich, who was the losing pitcher, went 1-for-4 and scored a run.
Against the Northwest Bullets, White was 1-for-1 with two runs scored in an eight-inning 5-4 win.
She started the eighth at second base and moved to third on a bunt. After the bases were walked loaded and there were two out, White scored on a fielding error, putting the Firecrackers in the final four.
Parlich had a double and an RBI as the Cruisers bounced back and knocked the Wagners Gold from the tournament with a 7-2 win. Parlich was 1-for-3 and scored a run as the Cruisers fell to the Gold Coast Hurricanes 5-3.