Softball players from the 10U Cherry City Crush traveling team amassed a 5-0 record and outscored opponents by a 69-34 margin to capture first-place honors at the Donald Duck Invitational held last weekend in Newberg. The team capped their championship with an 11-7 triumph against the McMinnville Grizz. In the group photo are, starting in the back row, Jaydon Hansen, Mackenzie Barrett, Sydney Newby, Lily Marx and Ava Graves. In the front row are, from left, Siyra Faulkner, Maddie Brock, Bryce Newby, Keily Lutgens, Makiah Iven and Despina Seufalemua.
Contributed photo/Kim Barett
Right before state, the 10U Cherry City Crush is hitting their peak.
Last weekend, at the 14-team Donald Duck Invitational in Newberg, the Crush outscored their opponents by a 69-34 margin on their way to a perfect 5-0 record to claim a tournament championship.
“The Crush coaches are so proud and impressed by how quickly this group of athletes have progressed from when we started in February to the present,” said Crush coach Bob Delaney. “We will continue to work on our overall hitting and offense, which is the area we need to improve the most at this point as we get closer to state.”
In the championship, the Crush captured the tournament title by defeating the McMinnville Grizz, 11-7, in what was a wild extra-inning game.
The Grizz scored five runs in their final at-bat to force extras, but the Crush responded with four runs in the top half of the extra inning and pitcher Despina Seufalemua held the Grizz scoreless in the bottom half to lock down the title.
“That final game was one of the greatest games I have watched in my 20 years of coaching,” Delaney said. “The tenacity, determination and incredible teamwork this group of athletes showed this weekend was amazing.”
At the start of the tournament, Delaney fielded only nine players for the pool play rounds, but every athlete managed to contribute in several facets to help the team get off on the right foot.
In the first pool play contest, the Crush defeated the Shooting Stars by a lopsided 16-6 score as pitchers Maddie Brock and Jayden Hansen dominated from the circle and the defensive play of Siyra Faulkner, Lily Marx and Ava Graves backed them up and kept the Shooting Stars at bay.
Coming off a momentum-building opening win, the Crush had to battle in their second pool play matchup versus the Fusion, erasing a late deficit by scoring three runs in the final inning to win, 11-10.
The three-headed pitching group of Brock, Hansen and Makiah Iven led the way, and the all-around play by catcher Sydney Newby made all the right calls behind the plate.
“It was the bats coming alive late in the game to carry the team to the win with key runs being scored by Mackenzie Barrett and Bryce Newby,” Delaney said.
Delaney and his coaching staff added two players to the roster on Sunday for bracket action in quarterfinals and semifinals wins.
The offensive and defensive performances shined through in the Crush’s victories over the Warriors (15-3) and the Oregon Wild (16-8) to vault it to the championship game.
Seufalemua pitched every inning of the final two games with her teammates providing solid defense behind her.
Keily Lutgens and Bryce Newby scored key runs in the extra frame, and Seufalemua and Brock each led the way from the batter’s box hitting with Brock getting on base in every single at-bat for all five games.
Delaney continues to be impressed with the team’s overall growth since their first tournament in April.
The turnaround has been eye-opening.
“The players understand it takes the entire team to win a championship and they supported each other the entire weekend,” Delaney said. “We are so proud of this group of kids and how hard they have worked. When young athletes see positive results from their hard work, they are almost always ready to get back on the field and take the next step. This Crush team is all that.”
The Crush has a week to iron out some details in preparation for the upcoming state tournament slated to run from June 23-25 in Albany.