With their opening 8-0 win no hit allowing Monday, the 14-and-under Fort Mill based Carolina Angels headed into their Tuesday afternoon match-up against Orlando No Fear confident. But they were careful not to be overconfident.
"We're playing with a good bit of confidence," head coach Kevin Allran said, "but we're not overconfident. We haven't put enough games together to be overconfident."
The key for the Angels this tournament, according to Allran, is scoring. Pitching has been the strength and when the team struggles, the runs are few.
"In close games, hitting consistently is the key," said Allran. "We have to hustle on every play and score when we get runners in scoring position."
The Angels, 21-7 on the year, lost to the No Fear, 8-6.
The Angels led 3-0 and 5-3 before the Fear scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take command.
Somer Cronley and Logan Peterson each went 2-for-3 for the Angels.
The Angels begin bracket play at 10:45 this morning at Cherry Park against the Gulf Coast Sharks.
• COOL UNDER PRESSURE: The San Antonio Gator Girls from Texas won their 18 straight Tuesday, with a 2-1 victory over the Brantford Bobcats.
The Gators are a first-year 14-and-under team. Head coach Javier Calvo calls them a "tough group of girls." They are predominately Hispanic -- save for three players -- and are riding an incredible wave.
"We have a good chance (to win the tournament)," said assistant coach Rene Lucil. "We look real strong, and it's going to come down to our pitching."
The Gator Girls boasts two dominant pitchers, who throws 56 miles per hour (top professional pitchers throw 65-70 mph).
They have a team of 13 year old jokesters who keep themselves loose in pressure situations by constantly joking and cracking on one another.
"We don't have to say a whole lot to them because they have been through a lot," said Calvo.
"Their nerves don't really affect them like other kids, which amazes me because I think I get more nervous them they do."
• FATHER-DAUGHTER CONNECTION: This tournament amplifies the number of father-daughter combinations on the teams.
Sam Holeman is the general manager for the Carolina Angels, and his daughter Bradlee Holeman plays. Stu Reinfeld is an assistant coach for the Coral Springs Panthers, working with his daughter, Haley. Scott Schraden is an assistant coach for the Lehigh Valley Flames from Pennsylvania, coaching daughter Sara.
"This tournament goes beyond baseball," said Scott Schraden. "This is a bonding thing, an opportunity to go on a vacation with my daughter while she plays softball.
"How many people can say that?"
• HAVING A BALL: Sitting around with the 14-and-under Lehigh Valley Flames, it became evident it's a team with only softball on the brain. But that doesn't mean that they're not having a good time.
"I don't watch movies," said Sara Schraden. "I play softball."
The rest of the team -- Taylor Kerkusz, Shea Emanuel, Megan Hetrick, Stef Fekula, Jordan Borger, Sarah Faust, Kyra Barron, Nikky Paller, K.C. Carpenter, Lindsay Mastrl, Clairie Carbonietto, and Kate Turri -- shared the sentiment.
But what about after softball season?
"We play other sports," Kerkusz said. "During the season, we eat, sleep, and play softball. After the season, we eat, sleep, and play other sports."
Those sports include field hockey, soccer, and even one race car driver (Borger). But it is clear that this tournament has brought this group of girls together.
"By everybody being with each other, we're all bonding and closer than we were before," Kerkusz said.