The Albany-Berkeley Girls’ Softball 12 & Under Sting team with their first tournament trophy in the young fall season

By Mark Galbraith

The Albany-Berkeley Girls Softball League’s 12U team, Sting, continues to turn heads in 2012. You may remember the team from the article Michael Lewis wrote for Berkeleyside last year. We’ve been following their progress. Here’s the latest installment:

The Albany-Berkeley Girls’ Softball 12 & Under Sting team continues to turn heads in 2012. Their latest display of domination on the diamond was at last weekend’s Fall Brawl tournament in Fremont. After a slow start in the opening rounds, Sting got their game in gear, finishing with a victory in the Championship game over the hometown Fremont Flyers via the mercy rule.

While this result may have been similar to their summer performances, a few of the faces have changed for their fall campaign. New coaches, Jenna Best, Jolene Henderson, and Lori Saaf; and players Amelia Galbraith and Tara Steckler looked to join the strong core of returners to keep the good times rolling.

The weekend started when Sting and its swarm of supporters pulled into Fremont’s fogged-in Central Park well before sunrise on Saturday morning.

Looking at their draw, the Sting’s opponents sounded more like the contents of Pandora’s box instead of a collection of pre-teen girls: Mayhem, TABU, Blitz and Heat.

First up, the Mayhem who crossed the Bay from Mt. View, and scored the tournament’s first run before most fans had settled into the damp aluminum stands.

Sting struck back in the bottom of the frame as Isabel Lavrov led off with a single, and went on to score when Adi Saaf blasted a two-run triple over the left-fielder. Saaf later scored on Erin Shurtz’s single, completing a 3-run first.

In the second, the Mayhem’s pitcher literally put on her game face in the form of smeared eye black, and silenced Sting bats for the rest of the contest. Mayhem tied the game with two runs in the second, and tacked home another in the fourth to squeak out a 4-3 victory.

The Sting’s second game pitted them against TABU. For the uninitiated, TABU is an acronym for a San Jose-based team, standing for “Try And Beat Us.” Sting would not be intimidated, however, as once again they started strong with Isabel Lavrov leading off the proceedings by scorching a double off the big toe of TABU’s third baseman. Hannah Lane-Goldstein singled her home to take an early 1-0 lead.

Despite Quinn Lewis’ battling on the mound, TABU struck for two runs in the bottom of the first to take an early 2-1 lead.

When the sun poked through the fog in the bottom of the second, it heated up TABU’s bats, and they scored five in the second. TABU then added two more runs in the third to defeat the Sting (and further bolster their immodest challenge to all-comers) 9-1.

Saturday’s third and final game for Sting, however, was a different story, as they took on the NorCal Blitz – who, like the Golden State Warriors, appear to be ashamed of their hometown — which in this case is Belmont.

The Blitz was no match for the Sting, as they were, yes, blitzed, by the girls from Albany-Berkeley, 12-0.  Pitcher Hannah Lane-Goldstein allowed only two hits in pitching the shut-out.  She also added an RBI triple, bringing Zinnia Thewlis in to score after she reached base on a scorching double.

Claire Kaneko drove in four of Sting’s runs, plating among others Tara Steckler, Maeve Gallagher and Griffin Campbell. The win brought back the energy and confidence Sting would need to compete during Sunday’s elimination round.

Sunday’s first game was a re-match from the morning before against Mt. View’s Mayhem. After several loud outs from both sides, the game was scoreless after the first two innings. Pitcher Robyn Wampler helped her own cause in the third, however, by singling home Sting’s first run.

Mayhem would tie the game, and then squeeze home a second run to take a 2-1 lead after three.

All that would change in the fourth, however when Griffin Campbell led off the inning with a single, and then Isabel Lavrov crushed a towering two-run homer to take the lead for good. Hannah Lane-Goldstein singled, and Claire Kaneko doubled her home. Adi Saaf doubled Kaneko. Saaf and then Zinnia Thewlis scored. Next, Lavrov bookended her home run with a double that scored two more RBIs to make it 9-2. Maeve Gallagher roped an RBI single to center to put the cherry on top for a sweet Swing victory.

Next up was the semi-final game against the San Lorenzo Heat, and the game was over after the third pitch. Isabel Lavrov crushed both the ball and collective spirit of the Heat with a towering shot to left that looked like it could have cleared the fences of the friendly confines up the road where the A’s play. When the dust settled, Sting had struck for five and the shoulders were slumping on the visitors’ bench.

The Heat mustered two in the second, but the Sting kept their foot on the gas, plating Amelia Galbraith and two others in the third and rolling to an 11-5 victory and a date with the hometown Fremont Flyers in the Championship Game.

In the final game, battery-mates Robyn Wampler and Catcher Grace Rusin set the tone by setting down the first eight Flyers.

Erin Schurtz’s two-run single opened the scoring for Sting in the second, which ended with a 5-0 Sting lead. The Flyers tried to answer with two in the third, but Rusin, Gallagher, Steckler and others strung together another five runs in the fourth, resulting in a 10-2 victory, and their first tournament trophy in the young fall season.

Sting 12U team wins final summer season tournie [07.26.12]
Berkeley-Albany softball team wins last-chance tournament [06.26.12]
Sting softball league wins first tournament of the year [06.18.12]
Hits, put-outs and a Garbanzo tournament victory [05.03.12]
Michael Lewis: After Moneyball comes softball [12.15.11]

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