In all good businesses and organizations, the stressing of process implementation and improvement is always a key to future success.
Belton Youth Softball Association went through a process improvement this year. The Belton Bomb Squad 10U bought in to the improvement, implemented some of their own processes and it showed in many ways in 2018.
The final three days of the Texas Teenage Softball Association (TTAS) 10U State Softball Tournament was an indication that the Bomb Squad had a mission plan: Complete the Process.
In the winner’s bracket game on Wednesday, they took on their friendly BYSA rival Belton OutKasts.
The Bomb Squad took advantage of a two-run first inning and turned several opportunities into runs late, as they run-ruled the OutKasts 11-0. Maddison Ruiz fanned 10 batters and Lauren Vasquez’s inside-the-park homer in the top of the third inning opened the floodgates.
The win moved the Bomb Squad into the winner’s bracket semifinal against the Cameron Barbie Bashers, while the loss moved the OutKasts into an elimination game with the Valley Mills Eagles.
The OutKasts defeated the Eagles 8-6, with Reagan Stuart driving in four runs. They then fell to the Troup Shockwave 10-0 to finish fourth at the tournament.
The Bomb jumped out to an early lead on the Barbie Bashers in the winner’s bracket semifinals, with three runs in the first and added three more in the second to hold off Cameron 7-0.
Ruiz struck out the side the start the first inning. In the bottom of the frame with two outs, Alexis Ortiz drilled a single to the left centerfield gap and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Back-to-back-to-back RBI hits by Ruiz, Kali Mayberry and Blair Costine put the Squadron up by three.
Zayda Spillers ripped a pitch deep to right field for a leadoff triple in the top of the second inning. But Ruiz fanned the next three hitters to strand the Barbie Bashers’ hurler at third.
The Bomb Squad responded in the second inning. Saniyah Maxwell was hit on the hand with a pitch and was sacrifice bunted to second by Analicia Martinez. Vasquez’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away at first base, which scored Maxwell. With two outs, Ortiz’s single scored Vasquez. Ruiz’s single moved Ortiz to second and a two-base error scored Ortiz to put the Bombers up 6-0.
The stingy defense of the Squadron was on display to lead off the top of the forth. After the allowance of a walk, Ortiz cranked a snap throw down to Costine at first and applied a tag for a caught stealing. Ruiz then struck out two to get out of the inning.
Ortiz then manufactured a run on her own. She singled and advanced around the bases on three consecutive wild pitches.
Ruiz struck out the final six hitters she faced, which gave her 15 strikeouts in six innings.
Ortiz when 3-for-3 and scored three times. Ruiz also contributed two hits, as the Bomb Squad collected 10 hits on the night and stranded five runners.
The win moved the Bomb Squad into the championship game. Cameron dropped into the loser’s bracket final against Troup. They dispatched the Shockwave to face the Bomb Squad in the championship game.
It was a pitcher’s duel of Ruiz versus Spillers over the first inning, as both hurlers fanned two in the opening inning.
In the top of the second inning with two outs, Costine drilled a pitch to the right centerfield fence for a double, and was courtesy run for by Nalicia Crathers. Briley Updyke walked to put runners at first and second. On a double steal situation, Crathers drew a throw at third that was high over the bag and went into left field. Twisting her ankle on the slide into third, Crathers couldn’t get back up in time to take advantage of the overthrow. Runners ended being stranded at third.
Ruiz struck out the side, which fueled the momentum of the Squadron’s offense in the top of the third inning.
With one out, Vazquez reached base on an error. Jaclyn Munoz reached on a throwing error that scored Vazquez and landed her at second base. Ortiz singled home Munoz, stole second base, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. Mayberry singled, advanced to second on an outfield throw, advanced home on back-to-back passed balls to but Belton up 4-0.
Cameron fazed by the outburst and scored four runs of their own. Deja Campos walked, Mariana Hernandez singled and Haven Berry walked to load the bases. Ka’Sara Brooks worked Ruiz into a 3-0 count when confusion ensued on the next pitch. A strike called on a check swing. The Bomb Squad thought the Brooks’ check swing was a foul ball, but it was a called strike. Barbie Bashers head coach Crystal Spillers sent Campos down the line towards the plate and she scored. It was the first run allowed by the Bomb Squad to that point, after scoring 55 straight runs. With two outs, Zee Spillers hit a full-count fastball to the opposite field at high-hopped over Munoz’s head in right field and rolled to the wall. Berry, Ka’Sara Brooks and Spillers all scored to tie the game at 4-4. Spillers fanned the side in the top of the forth to set the Barbie Bashers up for a big bottom of the frame.
Rangel led off with a triple and scored on Lily Valdez’s single to give Cameron a 5-4 lead. Ruiz buckled down and sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a grounder she fielded successfully in the circle.
Belton was at the top of their batting order to start the fifth inning, and the speedy Vazquez pushed the tempo to start it. She hit a grounder in which the throw was bobbled at first base. Munoz dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Vazquez sprinted from first to third. Ortiz came through with another clutch hit with a double to score Vazquez and tie the game at 5-5. Ruiz put the Squadron up for good with an RBI single to score Ortiz.
Spillers doubled with two outs in the fifth inning, but Ruiz struck out another Barbie Basher hitter to strand Spillers at second.
The Bomb Squad made its final offensive statement with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. Once again, it was Lolo Vazquez that started the opening paragraph of the process. She reached on an error and advanced to second. Munoz reached on an overthrow to score Vazquez. Ortiz doubled Munoz to third to bring up Ruiz. She singled in Munoz and Ortiz to give the Squadron a 9-5 lead.
Ruiz struck out Rangel to start the bottom of the sixth, and Valdez reached on a single. Campos hit a liner that Costine picked off in the air at first and Valdez was caught off base. Costine threw down to second to get Valdez and the celebration was on near second base, as the Bomb Squad and their fans celebrated their 10U State Championship.
Ortiz went 3-for-4, scored three runs and drove home two. Ruiz went 2-for-3 with three RBI, Vazquez scored three times and Mayberry contributed two hits. The Bomb Squad had nine hits and took advantage of five Cameron errors. They left five runners on base.
Ruiz picked up the complete game win in the circle for the Bomb Squad. She pitched six innings, allowed five runs on six hits, walked three and struck out 12.
Valdez and Spillers each had two hits for the Barbie Bashers, with Spillers driving home three runs. Cameron stranded two runners on base. Spillers struck out 11 batters in the circle.
The Bomb Squad outscored the opposition over the course of the five-day tournament 60-5.
“Just looking back, they were focused on the goal,” Bomb Squad head coach Nicanor Ruiz said. “We had a goal set and accomplished it. The focus was here on the state title and we won it. It was all about discipline and staying focused.”
Having been interview on Monday after their win over the Buffalo Lady Bisons, Lexi Ortiz and Madi Ruiz were asked who the biggest opponent was going to be standing in their way of a state championship. They both said, without wavering, the Cameron Barbie Bashers.
“They brought a lot of power and have a great pitcher in Z (Spillers),” Ruiz said. “She came with her A-game. I knew when we played them the first time around they were come back, fight out of the loser’s bracket and they were here. They gave us a great game and hats off to them. They’re a great team.”
Tested for one of the first times all year, the Bomb Squad trailed in the middle innings. Ruiz felt that his team was primed for anything that Cameron threw at them.
“I told them to keep their head in the game,” Ruiz said. “From day one, it’s ‘The Process.’ It’s going to happen. Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Stick to the plan. Keep your heads high and stay in the game. They did exact all of that. They accomplished that. Coach Mike (Ortiz) and Coach Bear (Updyke) did the same. We stayed pushing.”
The 2018 10U TTAS State Champion Belton Bomb Squad are coached by Nicanor Ruiz, Michael Ortiz, and Bear Updyke. The players are: Alexis Ortiz, Analicia Martinez, Blair Costine, Briley Updyke, Imy Hammond, Jacklyn Munoz, Kali Mayberry, Kei’Chelle Tobar, Lauren Vazquez, Luciana Grijalva, Maddison Ruiz, Nalicia Crathers, and Saniyah Maxwell.