Belton Punishers win 12U state title, Blast 7th
By Tony Adams
Stop the presses and hold the phone. The future of Belton softball is not only alive and kicking, but winning championships.
The Belton Punishers and Belton Blast traveled to Mabank last week in search of a Texas Teenage Baseball/Softball State Championship, following their first and second place finishes respectively at the District 5 TTAB playoffs three weeks ago in Moody.
Rain in Texas played havoc in the early part of the week, as games were delayed and shifted all over the schedule.
The Punishers drew a bye in the opening night of play, while the Blast defeated Denison Electrified to earn a day off and wait for their next team.
The Punishers took on the Canton Vipers, who dispatched the Grand Saline Salty Girls into the losers’ bracket. The District 5 champions beat the Vipers to move on to the next round in the winners’ bracket.
The Blast played Thorndale in their next game. Thorndale, who took out the Salado Slam the day before, beat the Blast and sent them into the losers’ bracket to play Whitney to survive.
However, the Blast ran into the powerful Whitney squad and knocked them out of the tournament. The Blast finished seventh overall.
The Punishers next played the Jacksonville JAXX. The powerful Punishers tripped up the JAXX and set themselves up with their own date with Thorndale with a shot at the winners’ bracket finals on the line.
Because of the rain, the Punishers played Thorndale immediately following their win over the JAXX. Belton’s top-ranked 12U team thumped Thorndale. The win set up a winners’ bracket showdown on the final day of play with the Normangee Nitro, who dropped Troupe Cold Play.
The tight turnaround in schedule didn’t affect the Punishers one bit as they expertly escorted Troupe to the losers’ bracket and earned themselves a berth in the TTAB 12U Softball Championship Game.
Troupe fought their way back into the championship game by defeating the Grand Saline Explosion. The Explosion won three games in the losers’ bracket just to get back to the losers’ bracket finals, eliminating Salado, Stephenville and Thorndale. They finished third in the state tournament.
The stage was set in for the finals as the Belton Punishers and the Troupe Cold Play took to the field.
The Punishers, who went on a major tear this season in the Belton Youth Softball Association and District 5 playoffs, had a tremendous showing against Troupe and slammed the door in the finals, earning Belton a state softball championship on the 12U level.
With the Punishers and Blast finishing first and seventh on the 12U level and the Piranhas and Lightning finishing second and third on the 10U level, the cupboard for the future of Belton softball appears to be well-stocked.
It is not a far reach at all to know that some of these young ladies will be exceptional ball players for Belton High School in the coming years and the future of softball in Belton is bright.
“The league competition is so much better than it was six or seven years ago,” said Belton Lady Tigers head softball coach Matt Blackburn. “The fact we had four teams at state speaks volumes. You see the attendance has increased (at Chisholm Trail Park) and the sports interest in the area has increased. I’m really excited for all of our Belton teams and looking forward to more great things to come from them.”