Baldwin 4 has best softball showing
By Ben Knoll
Signal Sports Writer
March madness is long gone, but now it's time for some June madness for the girls participating in the Tri-Country softball league.
The 12-and-under softball division, one of the most competitive divisions in the league, kicked off its league tournament Friday.
During the tournament, regular season records mean nothing. Each team comes into the tournament equal, and only one can leave with the league crown.
The teams battled it out in a round-robin, double-elimination bracket, with the possibility of playing up to five games.
Baldwin 1, coached by Carrie Lodge, came into the tournament with high expectations. With the third best record in the league, the team expected to compete for the league championship.
Baldwin 1 started out strong on Friday, winning against Wellsville 1 in the first game of the tournament in a high-scoring thriller, 12-10.
The winning wouldn't last, though, when Baldwin 1 faced DeSoto in the second round. Baldwin lost 12-4 and was knocked into the loser's bracket.
Next up for Baldwin 1 was Eudora 2, who they played even until the end of the game, when they finally bowed down, 7-5.
Coach Lodge was disappointed, but remained optimistic about the rest of the season.
"We didn't play up to our potential. We came in ranked third, and I thought we should have played better," said Lodge. "We were short some players, so that hurt us. I think we will finish the season strong, though."
Baldwin 2 was also in action at the 12-and-under softball tournament, but its results weren't as good as hoped.
In its first contest on Friday, Baldwin 2 suffered a tough one-run loss to Eudora 1. Each team's bats came alive in the high-scoring contest, but Baldwin 2 ended up on the short end, losing 16-15.
Next up for Baldwin 2 was Eudora 2. Baldwin played Eudora close until the fourth inning, when Eudora rallied and never looked back, winning 16-8. The loss knocked Baldwin 2 out of the double-elimination tournament.
The loses were tough for the team, but the game also included some highlight moments, such as a double play converted by Baldwin 2's first basemen, and a throw from the outfield to tag out a runner at home.
Head coach Chris Bennett remained positive after the loses.
"I couldn't have picked a better bunch of girls," Bennett said. "We have plenty of stuff to work on, though. I've had fun coaching and plan on doing it again next year."
Baldwin 3, like Baldwin 2, also didn't perform as well as hoped in the tournament.
In its first game the team took the field against Baldwin 4 for an inter-city game, which turned out to be one of the best of the tournament. The contest was neck-and-neck until the final inning, when Baldwin 4 came through in the clutch to win the game in the final inning, 10-9. The loss for Baldwin 3 dropped it into the loser's bracket, where the team faced Eudora 2. The game would prove to be another heartbreaker for Baldwin 3. In the final inning, the team lost again, 14-12.
Coach Greg Johnson focused on the positives after the two losses.
"The girls are learning and coming together as a team," Johnson said. "We are learning fundamentals and the finer points of the game."
After surviving its first game against Baldwin 3, Baldwin 4 faced Eudora 2, who handed the team its first loss of the tournament, 7-9.
One loss away from elimination, Baldwin 4 came up big, cruising in its next two games. Baldwin 4 won 14-2 against Wellsville 1, and 15-2 against Eudora 1.
With confidence high and revenge in mind, Baldwin 4 again faced Eudora 2, with third place in the tournament on the line.
The game was close until the end, but Baldwin 4 finally succumbed to Eudora 2, losing by the same score, 9-7.
Coach Dale Wieden was happy, for the most part, with his team's performance over the weekend.
"The team played very well, we played good ball all weekend," Wieden said. "A couple of defensive plays could have changed the outcomes, but I'm still happy that we competed hard to the very end."
The softball season wraps up this week, with games starting at 6:30 every night at the BHS fields on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- weather permitting, of course.