West Plains Bandits finish third in Summer Classic softball tourney
After competing in their first tournament of the 2014 summer softball season, the girls of the West Plains Bandits 14U club know they have work to do to become a championship-caliber team.
They also know they are really close to that goal, coming one win shy of playing for the Gold Division title in last weekend's Spokane Girls Fastpitch Softball Association's Summer Classic. The Bandits won their first four tournament games Saturday and Sunday at Spokane's Dwight Merkel Sports Complex before ending their run with a loss to the Ellensburg Canes, finishing third overall.
"I asked the girls after the game if they felt good about how they finished," Bandits head coach Byron Pavao said in an email. "They all said no."
West Plains went 3-0 in Saturday pool play to advance to Sunday's championship bracket. The Bandits gave up six runs in the second to trail the Spokane Stealth 99 6-2 in the opener, but battled back for a dramatic 7-6 win when Glori Cheevers smacked an 0-2 pitch for a triple scoring Rachel Barsness and Grace Lilje with the tying and game winning runs in their last at bat.
Barsness was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs as the Bandits banged out eight hits and hit .348 as a team. Taylor John got the win on the mound, giving up seven hits while walking one and striking out seven in five innings.
Trailing the Chewelah Hurricanes 4-3, the Bandits rallied for six runs in the bottom of the fourth en route to the 9-6 game two win. West Plains capitalized on several Hurricane errors along with a two-run single from Sarah Mayer and an RBI single by Hailey Hostetter.
Barsness again led the Bandits offensively, going 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI while Hostetter was 1 for 3 with two RBIs and Mayer 1 for 2 and two RBIs. John got the win, giving up four earned runs on six hits, walking three and striking out three.
West Plains completed the pool sweep with a 9-3 win over the Liberty Lake Lightning. RBI singles from Hannah Petek, Lexi Gonzalez and Taylor Pavao helped the Bandits to a 4-0 top of the first lead and the team played add-on from there, getting a solo home run by Cheevers in the third, RBI triple by John in the fourth and a two RBI single by Kaitlyn Kinzel in the fifth.
Hostetter, Cheevers and Lilje were all 2 for 3 at the plate with Kinzel 1 for 2 and three RBIs as the Bandits banged out 11 hits and batted .393. Petek gave up one earned run on four hits over four innings to earn the win.
West Plains moved within one victory of a championship appearance with a convincing 10-1 win over the Spokane Diamonds Sunday, opening a 9-0 lead with four runs in the top of the first and five more in the third. Lilje led the team at the plate, coming within a home run of hitting for the cycle with a 3 for 4 day. John threw a complete-game, two-hitter, giving up one earned run while walking one and striking out seven.
But in the game to advance to the title, the Bandits ran out of steam against Ellensburg, striking out nine times in their first 11 at bats and surrendering a tournament team-high five errors in the 11-1 loss. West Plains' only run came in the fourth when Cheevers doubled to right and eventually scored on a passed ball. John took the loss, giving up just two earned runs on eight hits while walking three and striking out two.
"For this being our first tournament of the season, we as coaches are proud of their third place finish in a Gold division against teams that have already played in multiple tournaments, but also feel they have more fight left in our tank," Pavao said.
The 4-1 tournament mark gives the Bandits, composed of players from Medical Lake, Cheney, Davenport, Lakeside and Warden, an 8-3 mark in play this season. They were to host a doubleheader June 18 with Liberty Lake in Medical Lake, and face the Spokane Diamonds Wednesday, June 25, at North Central High School.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.