Friday, August 22, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Local youths win 12U national championship

Leader sports editor

The Arkansas Team Worth ’01 fast pitch softball team, consisting largely of players from Pulaski, Lonoke and White Counties, won the ASA/USA Class A 12U national championship in Bloomington, Ind., on Aug. 2.

The 73-team bracket features teams representing states from all across the country.
Team Worth kicked off the week with a 10-2 win over Valparaiso Indiana’s Phoenix team on Monday, July 28. Later that same day, Worth ’01 defeated the Virginia State Champions, Orion-Hunter Teal, by a score of 5-3.

On Wednesday, as the No. 1 seed from their pool, Worth ‘01 began bracket play and started out with an 8-0 win over Ohio Valley Extreme.
On Thursday, Worth ’01 won a hard-fought battle against a solid Arizona Hotshots team, coming out on top 3-2. Later Thursday afternoon, the Arkansas squad came up with a 5-2 win over Tennessee Worth Hustle.

Friday, with eight teams left in the winners’ bracket, Worth ’01 met up with Texas Fusion – Burris and with their bats on fire, won 13-0. Thunderstorms postponed the rest of Friday’s game until Saturday morning. When play picked back up, Team Worth was bounced from the winners’ bracket in the semifinals with a 3-2 loss to the Georgia Cobras.

With the loss, the Arkansas squad had to win five straight games over the next 12 hours to win the tournament, and it was a task the group was up to.

Arkansas Team Worth ’01 started knocking the teams down one at a time, defeating Illinois Oak Park Windmills 4-1, followed by a 4-1 win over Texas Team Mizuno Impulse.

Next up, having to face them once again in the finals of the losers’ bracket, was the Georgia Worth Cobras. Arkansas fought hard in a battle of the bats, coming out with the 7-5 win and ousting its former conqueror from the tournament.

The Tennessee Franklin Flames sat undefeated after winning the winners’ bracket, and Worth ’01 had to beat them twice to win the championship. Arkansas Team Worth scored three runs in the top of the second inning and stayed ahead until the bottom of the fifth when the Flames tied it up.

Arkansas Team Worth rallied back in the top of the seventh to score two runs and then hold off the Flames, defeating them 5-3 and forcing the “IF” game.

In the tournament finale, the Flames came out and scored quickly in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Arkansas answered right back by scoring twice in the bottom half of the same frame.

The score remained 2-1 until the top of the third inning when the Flames tied the game.

The score remained knotted at two runs apiece until the top of the fifth inning when the Flames scored another run to take the lead for the first time since the opening at-bat. But Arkansas Team Worth answered back in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the sixth, scoring five runs while batting around and taking command of the game.

In the seventh inning, the Flames went down in order with two ground outs and a strikeout swinging to seal the win and championship for Arkansas Team Worth.

Competing all season against the top 12U teams in the state and nation,as well as some older 14U and 16U teams, Arkansas Team Worth ’01 also holds the titles of 2014 ASA Class A 12U State Champions, 2014 FASA Class A 12U State Champions, 2014 FASA Border Battles Champions, 2014 USSSA Top Gun Champions, as well as many other regional championships and runner-up finishes.

Team Worth ’01 qualified for Bloomington by going undefeated and winning the Region 6 ASA/USA National Qualifier in Columbus, Miss., in April. Worth ‘01’s record for the week in Bloomington, Ind., was 11-1, bringing their overall season record to 90-10.