JENSEN BEACH, FLA. >> The Berkshire Force 14U softball team capped off pool play at the Babe Ruth Softball World Series in style on Saturday, besting Longwood 12-2 in a five-inning contest.
The win gave the Force a perfect 3-0 record through pool play. The Force are one of four teams that finished 3-0 in pool play, and the team earned the No. 2 seed for the double elimination portion of the tournament. The Force will play Sunday at 11 a.m. against the winner of the 7/10 contest.
"I'm very pleased with the way they started," Force coach Jim Clary said. "The girls are well prepared to be playing at this level of softball ... we took the last two months to prepare our team for the level of play they need to be at."
In the game against Longwood, the Force scored five runs in the second to take a lead it would not relinquish. The team added two runs each in the third and fourth innings, then ended the game in the fifth with a three-run inning, capped by Payton O'Connell stealing home to end the contest.
"We had a couple of miscues in the second to allow a run, but we came back and the bats came alive," Clary said.
Tess Lyon and Mary Lee led the way at the dish, with Lyon going 2 for 3 with a pair of runs batted in and a run scored while Lee went 2 for 2 with a pair of ribbies. O'Connell finished 2 for 4 with a RBI and two runs scored and Brianna Clary went 2 for 3 with a RBI.
In the circle, Lee took the start and went four innings, striking out one on four hits and two walks. Addyson Lyon finished off the fifth with a 1-2-3 inning, including one strikeout.
For Longwood, Amy Tamulonis and Dimary Rivera each drove in a run.
The Force used the rest of Saturday to rest ahead of Sunday's game. Clary said it has been a pleasure to coach this group of girls — which is not the first group he has brought to a World Series — and he looks forward to seeing how far they can go.
"This team has come together over the last two months and picked each other up. It's a pleasure to coach them. They are well prepared to play at this level."
Force 16U goes 1-1
The 16U Force girls split a pair of games on Saturday, falling to Barren County 3-2 in the morning before rebounding to beat Charlestown 17-2 in five innings in the afternoon.
With the split, the Force finish pool play with a 1-2 record. The win in the final game was critical, as the lopsided decision helped the Force advance to the knockout round. The Force will be the No. 7 seed in an eight-team tournament.
"They definitely showed a lot of character," coach Mark Pierson said. "We had to win and hold them to a certain amount of runs, and we did. We came out and scored six or seven in the first and we were off and running after that."
In the afternoon win, the Force exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the first, and added a five-run third and a four-run fourth.
After giving up a run in the top of the first, Bella Aitken and Britney Perkett were driven in by Hayley Tobin to open the scoring for the Force. Erin Murphy then plated Tobin before Ashley Keegan and Toni Satrape scored on errors to get the Force offense going.
In the fourth, Toni Satrape hit a two-run double to plate Elena Cerveira and Tobin to finish up the scoring.
Tobin finished 2 for 3 with three RBI. Erin Murphy went 0 for 3 but drove in three runs herself, and Satrape went 2 for 3 with three ribbies. Perkett finished with a pair of RBI.
In the circle, Giuliana Pierce started and went 2 2/3 innings, picking up the win behind four strikeouts on five hits. Keegan finished up, going 2 1/3 and striking out four on one hit.
Pierson said that his team's approach didn't change going into the must-win game. Instead, he just stressed doing the simple things.
"We just stressed the fact that we needed to win," Pierson said. "We didn't want to put undue pressure on them.
"We told them we thought they played well in the first two games. We made mistakes and the other team capitalized on it. ... We told the girls to stick with it, they are doing the right thing."
In the morning-opening loss, Barren County scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the first inning to take the win.
The Force scored once in the top of the first when Tobin scored Kailey Bell on a single, and in the fourth Cerveira reached on a leadoff single, advanced to second on a walk, took third on a passed ball then touched home on another passed ball.
After that, though, Barren County held the Force to just four at bats each inning over the final three innings.
Keegan went the distance in the loss, giving up six hits over six innings with 11 strikeouts and just one walk.