Champ Panthers Win ASA Opener
By KELLEY SMIDDIE
The outfielders for the Gordon Panthers and Chattanooga Mustangs
had nothing to do the first three innings in Monday night's
traditional opening game in the Amateur Softball Association's
18-under Gold youth fastpitch national tournament at Jim Frost
The Mustangs' Rachel Talley matched the Panthers' power pitchers
by getting eight of nine outs on ground balls before the team
from Southern California broke loose with a three-run fourth
inning en route to an 8-0 five-inning victory.
The remaining 62 teams begin pool play today at Warner and
Montague parks. Action begins at 9 a.m.
One of the perks for winning the ASA title, which the Gordon
Panthers did last year, is getting to play a host team to start the
tournament next season. Panthers coach Larry Mays had been to
Chattanooga before, in fact striking up a relationship with the
namesake of the recently built venue for Monday's game.
'I always look forward to coming here," Mays said. "The people
here are really, really nice hosts.
"This is an incredible stadium. We've played in a lot of them
traveling around through the years, and this is the finest I've seen."
The Panthers' fourth began with a single by leadoff batter
Kristen Farber. Farber stole second and came around to score when an
overthrow on the play was mishandled in the outfield. One out
later, Wendy Allen singled ahead of Oli Keohohou's line-drive
home run over the fence in left-center.
"The first three innings she kept us off balance," Mays said of
Talley. "We didn't see the same pitch twice. It was nice to see a
couple of little cheap hits fall in, and of course the big one
right after. Oli hit that pretty hard."
Keohohou and Marcel Torres contributed run-scoring singles when
the Panthers put a lock on the victory with a five-run fifth.
Mays planned on using four pitchers -- all unsigned juniors in
high school last January when they drew straws for the order they
Starter Tia Bollinger pitched two perfect innings and struck out
four. Winning pitcher Torres gave up an infield hit to Bretney
Jones, hit one and struck out four in her two innings.
Left-hander Wendy Allen finished it with a perfect fifth,
including a strikeout. Kristi DeVries had to throw after the game to get
her work in.
Mays said he doesn't always plan to use four pitchers per game,
but does plan for two, just in case.
"Each one of them is a little different," Mays said. "We look at
the team we're playing and get an idea of who we want to pitch."