The best Shamrocks team ever?
They’ve been called the best softball team in Shamrocks history.
That may come across as bold considering the organization’s heralded past, but the 18-and-under squad has backed up head coach Tommy Orndorff’s suggestion that this 2002 squad has top-10 potential.
With Gar-Field graduate Kelly Brown and Stonewall Jackson sophomore Courtney Bures leading the way, the 18U Shamrocks earned their best finish ever at the prestigious ASA Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament in Boulder, Colorado last weekend — cementing their growing reputation as a national power.
Brown, who plays right field for the Shamrocks and is headed to Virginia Tech in the fall, hit a team-high .575 in 13 games. Bures, the team’s starting shortstop, hit .457 with a pair of home runs in 14 starts as the Shamrocks went 12-1-1 in the five-day competition.
Broad Run High School graduate Christy Anch went 7-0 in the circle with one save and 53 strikeouts in 43 innings. The University of Tennessee-bound ace is now 19-0 with an 0.34 ERA.
Having already won the Pennsbury Invitational and a ASA Gold Nationals qualifier this summer, the Shamrocks (34-2-2 overall) won 10 consecutive games against an 81-team field and wound up in third place overall. It marked the first top-10 finish at Boulder in the program’s history.
McDonough’s Dani Woods hit . 474 with three home runs and Brooke Sorber, of Mt. Vernon, batted .385 for the Shamrocks, who are holding summer camps from July 8-11 and July 15-18 at Barcroft Park in Arlington before heading off to play in the Heatwave PONY Tournament.
Brown has been the team’s leading hitter all summer. She’s batting .545 with 36 hits and a .632 on-base percentage. Bures, a rising junior at Stonewall who led the Raiders to the Group AAA state championship game in the spring, is hitting .438 with a team-best 42 hits and 22 RBIs.
A third-place finish at a tournament that is universally considered a preview of nationals gave the Shamrocks an idea of where they stand in the 18U landscape. In addition to two wins and a tie in preliminary games, the Shamrocks went undefeated in pool play, going 6-0.
The biggest pool-play triumphs may have been a 2-1 victory over the defending Gold National champion Katy (TX) Cruisers and a 3-0 win over the Orange County -Davis (CA) Batbusters, who were third at Gold Nationals a year ago.
After clinching a berth in the final eight, the Shamrocks beat the Tampa Mustangs 4-1 in the quarterfinals before falling 9-4 to the eventual tournament champion Orange County-Haning (CA) Batbusters.
The Batbusters defeated the California Cruisers, 2-1, in the finals.
18U VIENNA STARS CAPTURE REGIONAL TITLE
Woodbridge High School graduate Kate Lancaster drove in the game-winning run with a single to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Vienna Stars captured the 18-and-under ASA Central Atlantic Regional championship last weekend in Harrisburg, PA.
The Stars won five consecutive games after falling into the losers’ bracket Sunday morning, including back-to-back victories over the Spring Ford Stealers in the championship finals.
After topping the Stealers 2-0 to force a championship playback, the Stars came through again in dramatic fashion. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, they scored two runs with Lancaster delivering a two-out hit to cap a 3-2 victory.
The Stars went 8-1 against a 19-team field and clinched a berth in the 18U national tournament.
ROCK n FIRE Wins 14U Central Atlantic Region Championship
Earning a berth in the Junior Olympic National Championship Tournament figured to be a very remote possibility when the Rock ‘n’ Fire softball team arrived at the Midway Softball Complex in Delaware last Sunday.
The 14-and-under travel squad had fallen into the losers’ bracket the night before and needed five consecutive victories on the final day of play to capture the prestigious Central Atlantic Region title.
With only a 15-minute break between games, Rock ‘n’ Fire overcame the odds, 90-degree heat and a talented Pennsylvania squad to wins its biggest championship of the season.
Just a week after they won the NSA state title, Rock ‘n’ Fire rallied around the outstanding play of Potomac High School sophomore Shyla Rider and the clutch hitting of Hylton sophomore Amanda D’Attilio and Gar-Field teammates Becky Horesky and Sarah Malene to secure a berth in nationals later this month in Columbus, Ga.
Rock ‘n’ Fire avenged both of its tournament losses en route to first place. After falling to the host Midway Orange Crush in the second round, the Prince William County all-star squad earned a 5-0 shutout in the semifinals.
Then, they swept the Lady Fireballs of Pennsylvania 2-1 and 2-0 in the double-elimination finals.
Improving their summer record to 56-8 overall, Rock ‘n’ Fire also defeated the Vienna Stars 2-0 on the final day.
Rider tossed a two-hit shutout, while Horesky tripled twice and scored both runs in the championship game victory over the Lady Fireballs.
Kelly Weber, who will attend Madison High School in the fall, won back-to-back games in the circle prior to that, allowing one run against the Midway Orange Crush and Lady Fireballs.
Rider was 3 for 3 against the Fireballs with Adrienne Johnson (Osbourn Park) and Malene scoring both runs in a 2-1 win.
D’Attilio drove in two runs and Rider was 3 for 4 with a double in a 5-0 win over the Orange Crush.
Rider added a one-hit shutout against the Vienna Stars and Weber started the day off with a two-hitter in a 16-1 win over the Lady Braves (PA).
Sarah Himan, a rising freshman at Hylton, caught four straight games on Sunday for Rock ‘n’ Fire, which will compete in the 16-and-under division of the NSA Queen of the Hill Tournament this weekend in Petersburg.
Dave Utnik covers softball for the Potomac News &Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at (703) 878-8053.