A long, grueling day in Hillsboro ended with five victories for Crossfire-Atkins. The Idaho natives knocked down every opponent it faced on Sunday at the 2019 Valley Invite, including the final bout against the NW Bullets to claim the Division I title, 6-3.
“That’s the best we’ve thrown all year,” said head coach David Dwyer. “All three girls were fantastic all weekend long. The girls played good team ball throughout the tournament. I’m not saying it wasn’t unexpected but this was nice to have happen for the kids.”
Tired bats, not tired arms ruled the opening innings. Through three innings, Crossfire recorded just a single hit and managed zero runners in scoring position.
Likewise, the Bullets didn't record their first hit until the bottom of the fourth.
With the Bullets putting up a wall defensively, Crossfire’s Jaylynn Stinson promised to be up to the task to keep the NW’s offense at bay.
“I had a nice combination between my drop ball and my changeup,” said Stinson. “I wasn’t trying to overpower anyone because I knew I had a great defense behind me.”
In seven innings of work, Stinson did tally five strikeouts but it was the stellar play behind her that highlighted the bottom half of each inning in Hillsboro. Particularly, shortstop Kaylan Walker whose gold glove snagged six assists and a putout.
“Sometimes it’s all about trust,” explained Stinson. “I know they have my back whenever I pitch and today was no different.”
Crossfire failed to add a hit to its total in the fourth inning but would manage to push across two runs. A walk and a hit-by-pitch ignited the inning. An error from the catcher trying to throughout Kaylan Walker’s steal attempt resulted in the game’s first run. Two batters later, Hattie Hruza’s sacrifice fly lifted Crossfire to a 2-0 advantage.
“We just started to put the ball in play,” said Dwyer. “The Bullets’ pitchers did a great job of limiting us and we weren’t hitting the ball that hard. We just put it in play and put a little pressure on their defense.”
Two innings later, Crossfire again put balls in play, forcing a pair of errors in the top of seventh leading to a 6-0 cushion.
Even though the Bullets would rally for three runs in the bottom end of the frame, Crossfire found its three outs to take the Division I Upper Gold Championship, 6-3.
“We did way better this year than we did last year,” said Stinson. “I’m happy for my teammate. I’m happy to see them happy.”
With an early-summer win its pocket, the long drive back to Boise might not seem so tiresome.
“This means everything to these parents and players,” Dwyer said. “Idaho usually doesn’t get a lot of love wherever we go. It’s a huge win for the team and for our young organization.”
The Lady Bulldogs made a habit out of playing in close games throughout pool play at the 2019 Valley Invite. After sidestepping the Oregon City Nightmare, 5-2, the Bulldogs tallied two consecutive 3-2 victories over the Washington Angels 16u – Benson and CC Krush Gold to earn top honors in Division I’s Pool K.
“We’re facing good pitchers,” said head coach Pat Pace. “Games should be close but we’re a team that usually scores a lot of runs. Overall, the girls did what they were supposed to do. To finish pool play 3-0 is a pretty good start to a tournament like this.”
CC Krush struck first blood with three quick hits to start the contest, scoring one run. Even with the fast start, six hitters would be the most starting pitcher Chloe Leverington would face.
“Once the Krush took the lead, I tried to just let my defense work behind me,” said Leverington. “I knew they would have my back in the field and at the plate if I just let them do their jobs.”
For four innings, Leverington and the Bulldog defense began to buckle down. Only once did a runner reach scoring position in the fourth frame before a lineout to second base and a groundout to shortstop erased the threat.
“My fastball was working really well,” Leverington explained. “I think I was able to beat most of their batters with my speed, wearing them down and making them foul off a lot of pitches.”
The young righthander’s only mistake came in the top of the sixth inning, surrendering a lead-off home run, handing CC Krush a 2-0 advantage.
Despite the deficit and a short timeframe to make it up, the Lady Bulldogs never felt desperate.
“Our intensity never dropped,” said Kaitlyn Granstrom. “We’re always better the second time through the lineup. We kept making adjustments and I think we started to figure some things out.”
Slowly but surely, the Lady Bulldogs began to apply the pressure on CC Krush, putting runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings before breaking the drought in the sixth with Lindsay Pace's RBI single.
“We got a couple of hits late and forced their starting pitcher to come back into the game,” said coach Pace. “I think that was key for the girls to see that pitcher again and have some success.”
What started with a double from Brittany Patrick, turned into a sixth inning offensive explosion for the Bulldogs. Behind Pace’s effort, Kali Rambo notched an RBI double to tie the game at two, giving Granstrom a chance to walk it off with the time limit already exceeded.
“I knew I just had to put it in play,” said Granstrom. “The only hit I had was when I laid down a bunt but I knew that any contact would probably score a run.”
While not technically a hit, Granstrom’s fielder’s choice scored Matti Ekerson, vaulting the Lady Bulldogs to first place in Pool K with another 3-2 victory.
“This win says a lot,” coach Pace explained. “It’s expected that we’re not going to give up in any situation but that was a great win. I think it was a confidence booster for tomorrow and hopefully, the rest of the season that no matter the situation we know we can come back.”
The Lady Bulldogs will enjoy a bit of rest before bracket play begins on Saturday morning. With three hard-fought victories behind them, confidence will not be lacking for the Washington natives.
“We all just want to win,” said Leverington. “For us, it’s just about making it to the next game however we can make that happen.”
Competitive games highlighted Division I’s Pool C at the 2019 Valley Invite. Three games ended in a tie and only two teams walked away with a victory.
For the Washington Angels 18 Gold – Benson, a win and two consecutive ties were just good enough, sealing the top seed out of the cutthroat pool with a 3-3 effort over USA Explosion 16 Gold – Thompson.
“Our pitching core is very deep,” explained head coach Dennis Hiner. “They continued to hit their spots and control the game from start to finish.
“They’ve played together as a team all weekend long. They’re energized in the dugout and they’re supporting each other in every situation. At this point in the season, they are way ahead of where they were last year.”
The Angels jumped on the board early in the first inning. Cienna Gunter and Bailey Warren tallied back-to-back singles to put the pressure squarely on the shoulders of USA Explosion. Gunter scored on an error from the third basemen and a batter later, Taryn Barney’s double pushed Warren across to make it 2-0.
“It was a change-up on the inside,” said Barney. “I saw the pitch just sitting there, and I told myself to just hit it hard.”
USA wasn’t going to down without a fight, though. McKenna Crum’s lead-off double sparked an immediate comeback for the Explosion. Despite two consecutive strikeouts from Annie Polster, Emma Andrewjeski, Jocelyn Eisen and Kaycie Barber each reached safely, plating three runs and capturing the lead, 3-2.
“We’re never down on ourselves,” Barney said. “We’re always cheering in the dugout and keeping each other up. If we keep each other’s spirits up, we’re more likely to have a better game.”
Washington’s positivity paid dividends in the next half inning. With two outs and a runner on second, Lynsie Miracle’s clutch single evened the score at three.
“Our bats always seem to come alive when we need it,” said Hiner. “We faced a really good pitcher today and we were fortunate to strike when we did.”
Just when it looked like the contest was going to volleyball back and forth, both pitchers found their respective rhythms, turning the latter half of the ballgame from an entertaining offensive battle into a thrilling pitching duel.
Polster retired the side in order in the third inning and then gave way to Bailey Rose in the fourth.
“I felt loose all morning,” Rose explained. “When I got into the circle, I never thought I’d throw a ball. I knew my team behind me had my back and I all I needed to do was continue to throw strikes.”
Rose’s performance included three strikeouts in just two innings while only allowing a single hit. Gina Skinner matched Polster and Rose pitch for pitch, keeping the Angels off the bases and more importantly, off the scoreboard.
Time ran out in the sixth inning with the game tied at three. While a tie is never the preferred outcome, there were plenty of positives for Hiner and company.
“Our defense has been fantastic,” Hiner said. “I don’t think we’ve committed many errors and that’s key when you play as many competitive games in this tournament as we do.”
The Angels will await its first bracket play opponent as the rest of pool play finishes up later Saturday afternoon. No matter who they’ll face, Washington is poised to make a deep run in one of their favorite tournaments of the Summer.
“We’ve been coming to this tournament as an organization for a long time,” said Hiner. “We’ve developed some great relationships with colleges. Combined with the competitive games we know we’re going to get by coming here, I’ll take this type of atmosphere all day long.”
The Valley Invite marks another space and place where Triple Crown Sports assembles another high-value fastpitch event, one that draws talented clubs and a healthy number of college coaches with recruiting on their mind.
The 2019 version of the event (June 14-16) has right at 200 teams registered, with a five-game guarantee designed to keep athletes in motion throughout each day. BallerTV will be on hand to provide livestream coverage of all the action.
One of the priorities at Triple Crown is to make sure all levels of the college game are represented in these showcase moments, so you’ll see representatives from schools like the University of Washington ranging to the passionate competitors in the JUCO and NAIA ranks.
The focus from the college coaches launches at the start with College Camp Friday, June 14 at Hillsboro Stadium. Nearly 10 separate camps will be held, including one tailored to high-academic performers and another for unsigned 2019 and 2020 graduates who desire to play after high school.
Throughout the day June 14 at Hillsboro Stadium, the NCSA Speed Combine will also be held. There’s no charge to go through the process, which will give athletes specific measurables they’ll use to make their case to college programs.
Triple Crown’s new product designed to offer the cold, hard facts about an athlete’s ability, the TC Eval, will be held June 13, from 2-8 p.m. at the North Clackamas Sports Complex. Players work is small groups with a college coach, and a five-page report is generated that will break down the skill set and college potential of the player.
Follow the action at the Valley Invite >> Tourney Machine
Triple Crown Fastpitch is a coast-to-coast operation, and the Left Coast is a primary source of interest and attention with the Valley Invite, based in and around Portland, OR. While the action on the field will be compelling, there are plenty of ways to change up your time at the event and see what else is intriguing about the region.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – Really, there’s no better place to engage your mind and grow your knowledge that the OMSI. Five halls and more than 200 exhibits will fully engage the family, with theaters, planetariums and even a submarine.
Voodoo Doughnuts – Now in seven locations, this operation sprang to life in 2003 and has become a mandatory stop for visitors to the city. The Bacon Maple Bar is a particularly well-loved offering, but about 50 varieties are there for the munching.
Portland Food Carts – This dose of local culture is loosely organized in “pods” where dozens and dozens of cuisine styles are represented. At any given time there are about 500 tracks/carts in operation; it all started in the 1910s with horse-pulled carts and has taken root as part of the city.
Bridges – Over the Willamette River, there are 12 bridges keeping Portland stitched together, and they all have their unique charms. Suited for cars, bikes and pedestrians, the bridges help create the unique vibe of the city.
Multnomah Falls – About 30 miles from Portland, this is a 611-foot-tall awe-inspiring cascade of icy water. From the parking area off of I-84, a 5-minute walk is all that separates you from the exhilarating spray at the base of the falls.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Triple Crown Sports has entered into a multi-year agreement with BallerTV that will add livestream video coverage to more than 20 Triple Crown Fastpitch events, beginning in 2019.
BallerTV will have coverage of all fields and all games of the following 2019 events:
Bomber Shootout March 2-3
Spring Stampede May 11-12
Triple Crown OKC May 31-June 3
Zoom Into June June 6-9
Mountain Magic June 6-9
Texas State Championships June 7-9
Zoom Juniors June 8-9
Colorado State Championships June 14-16
Valley Invite June 14-16
Sparkler Juniors July 1-7
Chicago Midwest Championships July 11-14
10u, 12u World Series July 12-17
16u, 18u World Series July 15-20
Southeast Championships July 14-18
Southwest Summer Nationals July 18-21
14u World Series July 22-27
Super 72 Sept. 13-15
Ronald McDonald Oct. 18-20
City of Lights #1 Oct. 25-27
City of Lights #2 Nov. 8-10
Don Battles On Nov. 15-17
Visit baller.tv/triplecrownfastpitch for links and notifications for all of these events.
Baller TV will also share coverage at the TC/USA Nationals (July 15-18) with FloSoftball; FloSoftball has eight fields, with BallerTV handling the remainder.
BallerTV was founded in 2016 by co-founders Robert Angarita and Aaron Hawkey to provide live video coverage of amateur sports while creating sports media job opportunities in local communities. As of 2018, BallerTV is now a coast-to-coast operation with a network of thousands of broadcasters across the country.
“BallerTV is extremely excited to be partnering with Triple Crown Sports,” said BallerTV Account Executive Daniel Chun. “As one of the leaders in the fastpitch world, Triple Crown continues to transcend the space and host top-tier events. We’re thrilled to provide a live stream service for athletes, parents and coaches to take their game to the next level.”
“We are thrilled to be partners with BallerTV, which is a forward-looking and dynamic media company that will help more people follow the action at our tournaments,” said Andy Hansen, VP of Media and Branding at Triple Crown. “Our fastpitch events are nationally known for their value to college recruiters, so we expect coaches to be especially interested in using BallerTV to track the progress of players who may end up on their rosters someday.”
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing college and youth events for more than 35 years, with approximately 90 events scheduled for 2019 in the arenas of youth baseball, fastpitch, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball. The TCS footprint includes both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 900-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.
Hillsboro, OR – You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2018 Valley Invite as temps hovered under 70 degrees on a cool, cloudy June day in the Northwest as more than 400 players participated in College Camp Friday, Unsigned Senior Workout and an All-Academic Camp at the beautiful Gordon Faber Sports Complex in Hillsboro, OR.
Twelve different college camps were scheduled throughout the day representing DI, DII, DIII, JUCO and NAIA schools. During the three-hour workouts, players were put through an array of drills while receiving one-on-one instruction from coaches. Three of the camps featured NCAA DI softball tournament runner-up the University of Washington as assistant coach Lance Glasoe was on hand leading many of the drills.
The evening concluded with a free BBQ for all attendees and a College Coach Panel giving players and parents an inside look into the recruiting process. Four schools representing different levels answered questions from emcee Alyson Morgenstern during the one-hour session at the Hillsboro Stadium. The panel featured University of Washington (Lance Glasoe), McCook Community College (Joshua Barns), Black Hills State University (Lane Leedy) and University of Puget Sound (Kellyn Tate).
More than 200 teams have traveled to Oregon this weekend for the five-game guarantee tournament. In all, 11 states and Canada are represented in the event: Alaska (3), Canada (9), California (9), Colorado (8), Hawaii (9), Idaho (17), Montana (5), Nevada (6), Oregon (44), Utah (11) and Washington (85). An estimated 100 or more college coaches will be on hand recruiting in what is considered by most as the premier softball event of the summer in the Northwest. The event features 14u, 16u and 18u in Open, Division I, II and III. Tournament play begins tomorrow at 8 a.m. with pool play and concludes on Sunday with the championship in each division.
Visit the website www.valleyinvite.com for the latest results and information or follow the event on Twitter @tcsfastpitch and #ValleyInvite.
Triple Crown Fastpitch is less than one month away from the annual Valley Invite in the beautiful state of Oregon. The excitement begins on Friday, June 15 with College Camp Friday and continues on to a Saturday and Sunday double elimination tournament.
College Camp Friday will take place at Hillsboro Stadium and it presents a “can’t miss” opportunity for athletes to learn from numerous Division I, Division II and community college schools such as Washington, Portland State and Blue Mountain CC. There are 12 3-hour camps, in addition to a High Academic Camp and an Unsigned Senior Camp.
The camps provide an invaluable experience and recruiting opportunity for 14u, 16u and 18u athletes. There are already more than 40 college coaches pre-registered to attend the event.
“Year after year the Valley Invite keeps drawing the top regional teams to compete against each other. Oregon is the perfect location for athletes interested in visiting Northwest colleges or teams just wanting to play some quality ball and get college camp exposure,” said event director Rachel Cavallaro.
In 2018, 192 teams will travel from to Oregon for the five-game guarantee tournament. The event will feature a 14u Open and 14u Division I, II and III so there is an opportunity for any skill level in the 14u age group to play. There is also 16u and 18u Open divisions.
The Maui Titans DeMarini fastpitch organization has found that the Valley Invite is well worth the 5 ½ hour flight from Hawaii to Oregon every summer. 2018 marks the third year in a row that they will attend.
“The kids really like the region, and the tournament is a great venue for them to see a lot of coaches in a short amount of time. It’s away from home, but not too far I guess,” said Titans 16u head coach Dennis Harmon. “It’s more of a business trip. We do a lot of camps and visits; there’s a lot of schools in that region right there close by. So we’ll go visit NW Christian, University of Oregon, Pacific University and just make the rounds all week long.”
The Valley Invite as a whole has a lot to offer; Cavallaro and the rest of the Triple Crown Fastpitch staff is happy to see it blossom.
“We’ve known Rachel for a long time from doing Colorado events and we’re happy she’s involved with this event because she’s someone we know and trust,” added Harmon.
By Bradey King