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Cathi Aradi

Championships Settled at NFCA Top Recruit Tournament on Sunday

CLEARWATER, Fla. – On championship Sunday of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top Recruit Tournament at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla., the Clearwater Lady Bombers Gold-Estes (5-0-1) and the USA Patriots Gold (6-0) were the big winners, securing the championships in the 18-under and 16-under brackets, respectively.

The Lady Bombers topped the Sarasota Heat 18 by a 3-1 count, while the USA Patriots Gold held off a tough challenge from the Tampa Mustangs-Ryan, 4-3 (8 inn.) 

The other titlists in the respective brackets included: 18-U Silver (Miami Stingrays-TPA over Team North Florida 18, 5-4), 18-U Bronze (JAX Florida Select-Fischer over Lady Gators Gold-Flannery, 5-2), 18-U Copper (Tampa Mustangs-Skeeter over Central Florida Hurricanes Gold, 4-1), 16-U Silver (Windemere Wildlife-Pollock over Tampa Mustangs-Phil, 4-3), 16-U Bronze (Lady Gators Gold-Flannery over Florida Fire, 2-0). 

In the 16-U championship tilt, USA Patriots Gold nabbed a quick, 1-0 lead after two innings, maintaining its advantage until the Tampa Mustangs-Ryan knotted the contest with a single tally in the fourth.

The match-up remained dead-locked into extra frames, forcing implementation of the international tiebreaker. With a USA Patriots runner stationed on second to begin the eighth, Megan Lane drew a walk, placing a pair aboard against Tampa Mustangs-Ryan pitcher Brooke Hutto.  Following a chopper to second, Taylor Boynton blooped a two-out single just into short right field, plating a pair of tallies for a 3-1 lead.  Back-to-back hits added what turned out to be a vital insurance run to make it 4-1.

Facing USA Patriots hurler White in the bottom of the eighth, the Tampa Mustangs-Ryan started a rally as Shaila Warren kicked things off with a lead-off hit. Andrea Farley followed with a base knock for a RBI, trimming the deficit to 4-2.  Erica Matich stepped into the batter’s box and lifted a sacrifice fly to left as the gap closed to just a single run.  Unfortunately for the Mustangs, back-to-back groundouts left a runner stranded in scoring position and ended the contest.

“Winning this tournament means a lot,” USA Patriots Gold Head Coach Scott Lane said.  “We started this event off missing four of our starters, for all day Friday and Saturday, because those players were visiting a school.  We fought through that and had some players who were fresh today that got in the game.  We never stopped playing this weekend.  We always fought all the way through.  We had to keep a level keel and not get too happy or too down.  We are happy, excited to be here and enjoyed the tournament.”

Overall, 52 teams participated in either 16-U or 18-U action at the NFCA Top Recruit Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.  

For final results, please click here.

For event photos, please visit the NFCA Facebook page or join us viaTwitter @NFCAorg.