By Bob Judson
OGDEN — The Oregon Silver Bullets (Portland OR) held a narrow 2-1 lead over the AZ Choppers (Phoenix) when catcher Sierra McKenna stepped to the plate in the bottom of the third inning Tuesday morning.
One compact swing and towering three-run homer later, the lead had expanded to 5-1.
Oregon added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and run-ruled the Choppers 8-2 in pool play at the Triple Crown 18u Fastpitch World Series at Fourth Street Park.
“In that situation, with runners on, I’m just thinking have a nice line drive somewhere in the outfield and hopefully it’s down to get those runners around,” McKenna said. “I just lucked out and hit a little higher one, so it went out. Definitely not thinking about that.”
McKenna was part of the three-run rally in the fifth with a solid single and came around to score on a two-run single by Olivia Borzy, which led to the run-rule victory.
“I’m looking for good and fun at-bats; looking to work on my swing and get some interesting contact,” McKenna said. “The second hit felt better than the homerun in my opinion – just how it came off the bat.”
The Silver Bullets jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning when Aspynn Westby went yard. AZ Choppers countered with a run in the top of the third off of Oregon reliever Evyn Morriss, after starter Bridgette Boling pitched the first two innings.
“Our starter today is slowly coming back from a nerve issue and we wanted to make sure she doesn’t overwork,” McKenna said.
Morriss then settled down and allowed just one other run, scattering five hits over three innings, while striking out three.
I’m not really a speed pitcher, so I trust my defense a lot and they made plays for me; they help me out,” Morriss said. “I haven’t pitched much recently, but because of our injured starter, I’ve picked it back up a little bit again. Just trying to produce ground balls.”
On top of her catching duties, McKenna also called the pitches throughout the game.
“We let our catchers call pitches. I’ve had Sierra on our team since she was nine years old. She’s worked with Evyn … she’s been on the team that long too,” Silver Bullets coach Erin Boling said. “So, the catchers know the pitchers really well. They (catchers) make mistakes, but we make mistakes and they see better than we do from the dugout.”
Ready or not, the tournament goes on, and Oregon has only 11 players at this World Series.
“We’re down a couple of girls. I try to get them to play different positions, so when we get into jams like this, we utilize people the best we can and make it work and go as long as we can,” Boling said.
McKenna finished the game with two runs scored and the three RBI with one swipe of the bat, while Westby scored once, had a pair of hits and also three runs batted in. Borzy’s lone hit put a wrap on the game.
For the Choppers, Mia Valenzuela went 2-for-2 with a double, and Aviana Deortentiis and Ava Aguirre scored the runs.