Over the weekend the 14U Bulldogs met some strong, but evenly matched competition at the Midwest Impact Tournament in West Chicago. The frosty weather matched the cold play of the Bulldogs on the first day losing 6-1 to the Naperville Diamonds and 9-1 to the Elk Grove Heat. The second day of the tournament was much warmer and the play of the team also heated up, but the Bulldogs again fell just short in an 8-7 loss to the Midwest Impact and a 9-9 tie with the Wheaton Wildcats to go 0-3-1 for the tournament.
The Bulldogs fell behind early to a high quality Naperville Diamonds team yielding 4 runs in the first inning. The positive news was that the Bulldogs tightened up their game defensively the rest of the game, giving up only 2 more runs after the first and committing only 1 error in the game. The bad news was that they could not get the bats going against tough Diamonds pitching scoring once on only 4 hits.
Game 2 was not much better for the Bulldogs offensively as again they only could muster 1 run in the game while experiencing a disastrous 3rd and 4th inning ultimately giving up 9 runs only 4 hits with 5 errors in the game. Needless to say the coaching staff and the team were disappointed with the results on day 1.
Sunday, day 2 of the tournament did not start much better as once again the Bulldogs offense was sluggish. While the Bulldogs traded runs with the Midwest Impact in the first inning, the Impact exploded for 7 runs in the second, putting the Bulldogs in a very deep hole early. The Bulldogs, however, showed a lot of grit in the bottom of the third, rallying for 6 runs to get back into the game 8-7. The Bulldogs put a lot of pressure on the Impact in the time shortened game in the 4th and final inning, with a 1 out walk by Aerin Seeman. However, the Bulldogs hopes were dashed when the catcher made a great play to throw out Seeman stealing second. Elly "squirrel" Reynolds then hit a rocket line drive that was snagged by the third baseman to end the game.
Game 4 brought a similar pattern when the Bulldogs again fell behind early and rallied late against a well disciplined Wheaton Wildcats team. The Wildcats scored in every inning of the game and put the Bulldogs down early 7-3 on 5 errors by the Bulldogs. Once again our Bulldogs rallied with three runs in the second and 4 runs in the third to draw another time shortened game to 8-7. Wheaton added an insurance run in the top of the fourth, but the Bulldogs rallied with 2 runs in the bottom of the frame to tie the game. Elly Reynolds sparked a 2 out rally with a savvy walk, with Katie Schroeder reaching on an error. Natalie "Deanmarini" Dean tied the game on a clutch 2 out line drive hit the opposite way to tie the game, but she was ultimately left stranded on third, one base short of a Bulldog victory.
While the record did not show it, there were a lot of positive things to build on from the big test and this team learned something about itself, as the girls learned that they are never out of the fight in any game based on their performance on Sunday. Natalie "Deanmarini" Dean, Molly "Beebs" Giesen and Elly "Squirrel" Reynolds turned in the strongest performances on the weekend with Dean leading the team in batting average at .667 and RBI's with 4. Giesen went 3 for 8 for a .375 average and 2 RBI's and Reynolds went 3 for 9 for a .333 average and 2 RBI's as well. The three combined for just under half of the Bulldogs total offense in the tournament. They were also strong on defense combining for 16 putouts, 10 assists and 3 double plays. Additional strong defensive performances were turned in by Amy Morden, Avery Lundblad and Katie Schroeder. Avery "Showtime" Lundblad was the ace pitcher of the weekend going over 8 innings total with a tiny 2.42 ERA. While the Bulldogs have plenty of things to work on over the winter, overall they earned a passing grade in their big test, mostly on grit.