Sting captures NSA crown
Maria Labouyer was too tired Friday night to worry about playing for the NSA Western World Series championship the next morning.
Then again, as far as the 12-year-old Yuba City girl was concerned, the Yuba-Sutter Sting Under-12 softball club had already exceeded all expectations.
"I was hoping for a fifth place. That would be fine with me," said Labouyer, the girl her teammates simply call Mo. "It was pretty surprising that we went all the way to first."
That's exactly what the Sting did, beating their rival Elk Grove Shamrocks 15-7 in the title game to earn a berth into the NSA Super World Series Aug. 18-21 in Peoria, Ill.
Courtney Laster chopped a grounder to the right of the pither's mound to score Taylor Thompson with the final run, ending the game under the eight-run mercy rule in the fifth.
"I can't describe it," catcher Duilanne Brown, 13, of Olivehurst, said of winning the championship.
Brown said she was part of a Little League team that won the District 2 Tournament of Champions a few years ago, but it fell down the list of best things after this.
"Nothing compares to this," she said.
The Sting sailed through the 23-team tournament featuring the best teams from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Utah with only one loss - that coming during the pool play just to set the main draw seedings.
The event was played in St. George, Utah - not far across the Nevada border from Las Vegas.
As luck would have it, Yuba-Sutter won a lottery draw to get a bye in the opening round of the main double-elimination tournament, the only team with a loss to get the break.
So while everyone else battled the hot son an extra day - 30 players suffered from some kind of heat problem during the tourney - the Sting got to rest.
When they finally got on the field, the Sting rallied from five runs down with two outs in the sixth to force extra innings against the Shamrocks in the first game. Elk Grove scored one in the top of the seventh, only to have Labouyer deliever a double to score Duilanne Brown and Jaqueline Van Ruiten with the winning runs.
Van Ruiten knocked in the winner against the Stanislaus Sting in Game 2 as Adina Schumacher and Yuba-Sutter captured the 3-2 victory.
The San Ramon Valley Stompers, the team that beat the Sting in pool play, was next. Anna West was stingy in the circle, allowing only one run, while Laster drove in the first run and Brown delivered the game-winner with a sacrafice fly.
That victory put Yuba-Sutter into the semifinals against the California state champion Dinuba Blaze.
"To me, this was our championship game because that team just doesn't lose," coach Barry Sizemore said. "And we beat them 10-0 in four innings."
Jordan Stanaland threw a two-hitter and Laura Wells drove in three runs with two hits.
That game did not get over until the late hours of Friiday night, and the Sting would not know who they would play until Saturday morning.
They were a little surprised when it turned out to be the Shamrocks, who beat Dinuba to complete an unlikely return to the title game through the losers bracket.
"They played 11 games including pool play and had to win four games Friday. And they had to beat Dinuba (Saturday morning). They are a pretty scrappy team," Sizemore said.
That's when Labouyer started to believe the championship was possible.
"We knew we could do this. We knew we could win. We only had to win one game, and they would have to beat us twice," Labouyer said.
Brown said the fact it was Elk Grove, a team the Sting had defeated three straight times, also added to the confidence.
And it didn't take long to show it. The Sting scored nine runs in the first inning as Wells delivered a two-run double to right-center.
The Sting led 11-3 after three and 14-7 after four. They didn't want it to go any farther, and Labouyer, who had four hits and two RBIs in the game, said that is when she became the most nervous.
But Laster delievered and the Sting rushed the field in celebration.
Courtney Smith, the first of three pitchers, allowed three runs on two hits in three innings for the win. Wells knocked in three runs with three hits, Van Ruiten and Laster each had two hits and two RBIs and Brown drove home two runs as well.