Losing two games isn't the best way to start a tournament, but the HCYP 14-U Patriots Red bounced back to string together six victories and win the 2012 USSSA Fastpitch "C" World Series July 22.
The tournament, played in Salisbury, drew teams from Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Patriots defeated the Freedom Firebirds, 10-7, in the seven-inning championship game. Earlier games in the tournament were limited to 90 minutes of play.
The Patriots and Firebirds have met many times during the season. Freedom has some Howard County players and HCYP has some Carroll County players.
"They're a really nice team in general. It's fun playing a good team with sportsmanship," said Patriot Sammy Kastner.
According to Sammy's mother, Teri, the two teams cheered each other on through the entire week. "Both teams were just so excited to be a part of this magical event."
The Firebirds, the top-ranked team in USSSA, had to come out of the losers' bracket to reach the title game.
They forged a lead in the championship game but the Patriots switched pitchers and that changed the momentum.
"We switched our pitchers (bringing in Kayleigh Day to replace starter Gina Netreba). She had a different speed and they couldn't catch up with her," Sammy Kastner said.
Day allowed only one run in the final three innings.
"We just kept piling on the runs. One run here, three runs there, and that really helped," Kastner added.
Kastner was instrumental in the offense in the championship game. She went 4-for-4 with three RBIs. Netreba, Hannah Robinson, Kayla Maggio, Day and Meagan Ford also had multiple hit games.
Defensively, Kelley Krizmanich had four putouts at second base and Kelsey Albert made two putouts in left field.
The Patriots opened the tournament by losing two games in pool play. Gamesmanship by some opponents contributed to those losses.
"If the other team was winning, they took an extra-long time to run out on the field," Kastner said. "Some travel teams play hard core and will do anything to win, but our team, we play fair.
"We've definitely struggled the past couple of tournaments, losing some easy games, but we pushed through in this tournament," Kastner said.
The Patriots started their win streak by defeating the PA Intensity Red, 9-3. Day pitched a complete game and Kayla Maggio, who earned tournament MVP honors, and Kastner each had two hits and two RBIs.
Netreba pitched a complete game 10-6 victory over the North Glen Mayhem, the reigning state champion. She helped her own cause with two doubles and three RBIs. Iliana Jones provided solid defense at first base and Day, Albert and Loren Corkran each had two hits.
Day struck out 10 as the Patriots defeated the North Carroll Hotshots, 8-1, and Netreba pitched a complete game shutout in a 7-0 victory over the MVSA Storm.
A 5-3 win over the Bowie Blue Jays put the Patriots in the championship game. Day pitched the complete game and knocked in three runs. Caroline Smith and Kastner brought home the other two runs.
"Our main goal this season was to do well in the World Series. That was our goal and we accomplished it," Kastner said.
The Patriots have one tournament left on their schedule. They play this weekend at Centennial Park.
"We'll probably be facing the Firebirds again in the tournament," Kastner said.
Kastner (Centennial), Smith (Mt. Hebron), Albert (Mt. Hebron) and Netreba (a rising freshman at Glenelg) are all from Howard County.