Led by the pitching of Taylor John and some clutch hitting, the U14 West Plains Bandits softball team finished tied for third in the Gold bracket at the Spokane Crash Fall Invite Sept. 21-22 at the Dwight Merkel Field complex in Spokane.
The Bandits dropped their first two games, 8-0 to the Crash 2000 and 11-0 to a travel team from Montana, Big Sky Blitz. West Plains had six hits against Crash 2000, with both Makayla Tamietti and Glori Cheevers going 2-for-3, but couldn’t break into the run column. Claire Dormaier took the loss on the mound, giving up seven earned runs on eight hits over five innings.
Against the Blitz, West Plains managed just five hits, with Alexis Gonzalez going 2 for 2, and was hurt in the field with six errors. Taylor Pavao took the loss, giving up seven runs, three earned on seven hits over two innings, with Hannah Petek coming on in the third, giving up four runs, two earned on five hits over three innings.
But in the third game the Bandits put everything together, led by John who went the distance in the 10-2 win over the Valley Lightning. John allowed just three hits and two runs, one earned, while striking out three and walking four.
She got run support too, led by Kaitlyn Kinzell, who went 2-for-3 with four RBI and Rachel Barsness, 2-for-3 with two RBI while also scoring two runs, and a 2 for 2, one RBI performance from Sarah Mayer.
“Through some strong pitching by Taylor John, great defense and 10 hits, the Bandits finally showed how they are capable of playing,” West Plains coach Byron Pavao said in an email.
West Plains kept up the pace Sunday, scoring seven runs in the fourth to cruise to a 14-2 win over the Mud Hens. Cheevers, Kinzell, Pavao and Dormaier all went 2-for-3 in the Bandits 12-hit attack, with Dormaier driving in three runs and scoring twice and Pavao adding two RBI and two more runs.
John again got the win on the mound, giving up two earned runs on five hits, striking out one and walking four over four innings.
The win gave West Plains a 2-2 mark and set up a rematch with Big Sky Blitz, and this time Byron Pavao said the girls were ready. After falling behind 3-2 after 1 1/2 innings, John found a groove on the mound, keeping the Bandits within striking distance – which they did, taking the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth and breaking open a 4-4 tie with four runs in the bottom of the sixth for the 8-5 win.
Mayer was 3-for-3 with two RBI in West Plains’ 10-hit attack, with Dormaier going 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs and Cheevers going 2 for 3. John gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits while striking out three and walking two.
The win sent West Plains to the semifinals of the Gold bracket where they faced the Coeur d’Alene Crush, who lived up to their name by pounding the tired Bandits 13-0 in five innings. Tamietti had the Bandits only hit, while John took her first loss of the tournament, giving up five runs, three earned on four hits without recording an out. Dormaier came on in relief, giving up eight runs, six earned, on nine hits as the Crush pounded out seven runs in the first inning and never looked back.
“With a quick turnaround game, the Bandits never got their feet set and couldn’t find their bats,” Byron Pavao said.
Pavao had high praise for his team, who played their first season in the Spokane Girls Fastpitch Softball Association as a very young team and finished in the middle of the pack.
“Every girl on the team contributed in some way to their success,” he said.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.