"It was like playing softball on the sun", said every Bulldog and parent at the Fort Summer Blaze Tourney. With temperatures in the mid to upper 90's and the heat index over 100 degrees, the Bulldogs bonded on the road to take their play to the next level.
The Bulldogs took second place in their pool and the #8 seed overall in bracket play in a highly competitive tournament with teams mostly from southern Wisconsin.
While the Bulldogs lost their first two games to the JC Yellow Jackets and the New Berlin Magic in low scoring games, the team played well and started to really gel as a team on Friday. On Saturday, the team really came together and took it to another level. The team elected an official captain, Elly "Squirrel" Reynolds and assistant captains, Syd "Vicious" Schmitz and Katie "Duck" Schroeder. The newly minted captains provided much needed player leadership and a spark of energy to lift the Bulldogs to a convincing 6-0 win over the Mad City Panic in the last game of pool play. This was the game where the Bulldogs truly learned what type of intensity, energy and grit is needed to win at the tournament and playoff level. They have been playing with this type of intensity ever since.
Despite strong play and high intensity, the Bulldogs were eliminated in the first game of bracket play in a very tight 3-1 pitchers duel of a loss to the Mad City Panic. Runs were at a premium in the contest with Mad City pitchers striking out 7 batters in 5 innings and the Bulldogs pitchers sitting down 6 yielding 0 earned runs. Avery "Showtime" Lundblad started the game in the circle for the Bulldog, going 3 and 2/3 innings, with Chloe "Thunder" Tratar coming on in relief to keep the game close and give the Bulldogs a chance. Throughout the tournament, the Bulldogs got solid pitching out of Lundblad, Tratar and Schmitz with a combined ERA for the tourney of only 2.65.
The three stars of the Fort Summer Blaze tournament for the weekend were:
#1 Star - Syd "Vicious" Schmitz who had a .600 batting average with three singles, .718 on base percentage, 2 stolen bases, 1 RBI, scored once and pitched 3 innings with a 0 ERA and 4 strikeouts and got the shut out win as starting pitcher against Mad City.
#2 Star - Chloe "Thunder" Tratar who had a .500 batting average with two singles and a triple, .833 slugging percentage, .571 on base percentage, 2 stolen bases, 2 RBI's, 2 runs scored and pitched 6.1 innings with a 3.31 ERA, 6 strikeouts and got the save in the shutout win over Mad City.
#3 Star - Bella "Zuchinni" Zagotta who had a .429 batting average with two singles and a double, a .429 on base percentage, 1 stolen base, 3 RBI's, and 1 run scored.
Other highlights of the tourney included a spectacular sliding catch by Gwen "Lightning" Shouse in right field, great bunt defense by Renee "Renado" Randles, a solid performance by Meghan "Doc" Suess after several weeks on the IR, great hustle by Haydin "Icepack" Hampton in a key offensive situation, and the usual dependable defense from Schroeder, Reynolds, Giesen and Jonas.
Everyone agreed that the best part of the weekend was the team and parent bonding that happened between games, in the swimming pool, at the hotel and during the first annual family vs. team fun game on Saturday morning, where the parents/families squeaked out a 1 run win against their daughters.