By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The Centex 12U Buzz Black squad took to the fields of Hohlt Park in Brenham this weekend, fighting off heat, humidity, rain, storms and delays that took the team into the wee hours of Sunday morning.
They ended up just short of their goals, but 3-3 on the state stage is no small accomplishment.
Their quest started against American Freedom Shaw team on Friday night, as the Buzz jumped on the Freedom quickly.
In the first inning, Payton Cook tripled home Kalen Smith to put Buzz up 1-0. Lexi Stanley singled home Kalen Smith to double the lead. After a single by McKayla Seelinger, Morgan Potter’s ground out scored Stanley to increase the lead to 3-0.
In the bottom of the frame, Freedom scratched out two unearned runs to narrow the deficit to 3-2.
Cook doubled to start the third inning and scored when Stanley’s single to center field was bobbled to make the score 4-2.
Freedom scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 lead. Buzz Black could not score the equalizer over the next two innings and took their first loss of the tournament.
The loss dropped the Buzz Black into a game with the Killeen Lobos and went into instant small-ball mode. A bunt single by Potter, Kalen Smith’s bunt single and a throwing error scored Potter to break Buzz Black into the run column. Kalen Smith scored on a passed ball. Stanley walked, Cook and Seelinger dropped down bunt singles to load the bases. Stanley scored on a wild pitch during Kalynn Smith’s at-bat to give the team a 3-0 lead at the end of the first inning.
After the Lobos scratched out a run in the top of the second inning, Buzz Black put up a six-spot in the bottom of the inning. Eleven Buzz Black batters made their way to the dish in the inning, collecting their runs off of five hits, two errors and two walks, giving them a 9-1 lead.
Buzz Black collected five more hits and forced two more errors in the bottom of the third inning. They scored five more runs, as time expired, to give them a 14-1 win and move them into the next bracket game against Texas Fusion Green.
The dominating, first-inning trend was back in effect, as Stanley doubled in two runs, scored on a wild pitch and Lindsey Ratcliffe had an RBI ground out, giving the team a 4-0 start.
After shutting out the Fusion in the first and second innings, Hannah Kelley singled, stole two bases and scored on Kalen Smith’s single. Cook had a two-run single to increase the lead to 7-0. Kelley’s RBI ground out in the third increased the lead to 8-0.
Fusion was shut out in the next two innings, paving the way for Buzz Black to end the ballgame. Potter reached base on a dropped third strike, Kalen Smith and Stanley singled to load the bases. Seelinger was hit by a pitch, scoring Potter. Kalynn Smith grounded out, scoring Kalen Smith, ending the ball game by way of mercy-rule 10-0.
Buzz Black put RGV Trouble in an early 3-0 hole in their next game, highlighted by a two-run single from Kalynn Smith. Trouble scratched out four runs over the final three innings to nip Buzz Black 4-3.
The loss dropped Buzz Black into the Premier bracket, where they took on the Montgomery Shock.
The Shock took an early 1-0 lead before the Buzz scored 10 runs in the top of the second. The rally was highlighted and capped off by a three-run, inside-the-park homer by Seelinger. The 10-run, eight-hit, two-walk rally stunned the Shock and they weren’t able to recover.
Seelinger and Kelley gave the Buzz solid work in the circle, allowing just one hit for the game.
On Sunday, Buzz Black took on the Texas Blackcats. The Cats jumped on the early with two runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Summer Stewart started the Buzz rally with two outs in the top of the second with a single. Ratcliffe’s single moved Stewart to third. Kelley’s two-run single scored Stewart and Ratcliffe to tie the score, 2-2.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the third, when four Blackcat singles and two Buzz errors led to four runs, giving Texas a 6-2 lead.
Stewart singled home Seelinger in the top of the fourth to reduce the deficit to three runs at 6-3. The Blackcats stretched their lead to five before Kalynn Smith’s double scored Cook for the final Buzz Black run of the tournament, bowing out with an 8-4 loss.
“The effort the girls put out was spectacular,” Buzz coach Ron Stewart said. “Given the heat, humidity, playing late and rebounding to play very well. Buzz organization is well established and respected in this area. The State tournament further illustrated the quality of players, parents and coaches that is are involved with Buzz Softball. From 8U to 18U and from Hillsboro to Florence, Buzz teams and players are doing great things and building great kids. I couldn’t be more proud, couldn’t be happier to have my daughter as one of those players.
“They played better and better each day,” Buzz coach Shane Smith added. “I am definitely proud of the girls.”