St. James hosted their annual softball tournament on Saturday, Sept. 16. The Lady Tigers (12-7) hosted Newburg, Borgia and Glendale in the tournament, with each team playing each other. Borgia won the event by going 3-0, the Lady Tigers came in second by going 2-1, Glendale went 1-2 and Newburg was winless.
The day started early with a matchup between St. James and Newburg. Newburg scored their only run of the game in the top of the first inning. The Lady Tigers controlled the game after that. They scored three runs in the first, nine in the second and put the cap on the mercy rule win with four runs in the third to win 16-1. Kayla Hamilton allowed one unearned run on one hit and struck out six batters in three innings to earn the win. Hunter Pitts drove in three runs and scored three times on three hits, which included a triple and a double, to lead the team offensively. Kyler Dautenhahn, Alyssa Doris and Hamilton each drove in two runs. The Lady Tigers recorded 20 hits as a team.
The Lady Tigers followed the win with a matchup against Borgia. St. James couldn't get their bats going as well against Borgia, recording just two base hits as a team. Hamilton managed to slow the Lady Knights early, but the floodgates opened in the seventh. Hamilton went into the inning having allowed three runs, but four came across in the seventh in a 7-0 loss for St. James. While Hamilton allowed seven runs, she didn't get much help from her defense. Only two of those runs were earned, as St. James committed eight errors in the loss.
After Borgia beat Glendale 6-0, the Lady Wolves faced off against Glendale. Newburg's second game mirrored the first, as they fell 14-1. Newburg then played against Borgia to wrap up their action in the tournament. Borgia made quick work of the Lady Wolves, winning 15-0 in three innings to win the tournament with a perfect record. While they weren't able to get a win on Saturday, Newburg head coach Andrew Lott was glad to see his team get three more chances to learn and improve.
"The biggest thing, like I keep preaching all year, is just doing the fundamentals," said coach Lott. "I've got a young team, obviously we're in a little bit of a funk and we're struggling a little bit just making the routine plays, but that's going to happen with inexperience."
St. James wrapped up the tournament with a matchup against Glendale. The Lady Tigers struck first with a run on a wild pitch in the first inning. St. James then had some tricky base-running to lead to runs in the second. After the Lady Tigers scored their second run, a pair of singles put runners on first and second. Abbie Walton stood on first and goaded Glendale's catcher to fire a throw to first. She and Doris, who was on second, broke for the next base. Walton was safe at second and Doris was able to work her way around to score thanks to an errant throw at second.
St. James went on to add two more runs in the third before Glendale was able to get on the board with two runs on one hit and an error in the fourth inning. St. James responded by scoring four more runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to extend their lead to 12-2. Glendale scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to avoid the mercy rule loss, but the game still ended without a sixth inning, as the time limit was reached. St. James won the game 13-2 to place second in the tournament. Hamilton allowed just five hits in six innings, while allowing two earned runs. She struck out three and walked two.
St. James and Newburg each had members of the All-Tournament team. Kaylee Burton and Sam Mathis represented Newburg, while St. James had Mikaela Donnelly, Pitts and Hamilton.
St. James head coach Brad Purvis was glad to see his team earn a second place finish, but the thing he liked the most was how his team carried itself.
"I take a lot of positives out of it," said coach Purvis. "I'm very pleased with all the girls today. It seemed like we were really focused in today. We finished with a second place finish and we played the team that finished first very well for the most part, until the very end of that game. I take a lot of positives out of this because of not just out game play, but they way we carried ourselves throughout the day."
The Lady Tigers also got to show a lot of depth on Saturday, as they gave some of their bench players a chance to shine. When given the opportunity, a lot of those bench players came through.
"That's something that we addressed at the end of the last game here. We talked about leaving good impressions and a lot of good impressions were left for those girls we put in there, some of the younger girls," said coach Purvis. "I told them that their time is going to be here before they know it, so they get a little experience, a little taste of what this tournament is like and hopefully they use that to their advantage and they grow from it."
The tournament also pushed St. James to 12 wins on the season, which puts them one ahead of last season's total. With so many new faces this year, the outside expectations weren't very high, but the Lady Tigers have charged ahead to prove people wrong.
"I just tell them to do their best, that's all you can do. Go out play your best, give it your best and we'll see what happens from there. Honestly, they've done a fantastic job this year with it," said the St. James head coach. "Going into the season we weren't sure what we were looking at after losing so many starters from last year's team, basically an overhaul with the starting lineup, and they've done a great job. I'm very proud of them and I told them that. Here we are, we're at 12 wins and we're actually one ahead of last year at this point with two weeks to go. It's not all about wins. but they are important too."
St. James followed the tournament with a trip to Laquey on Monday, but results were not available at press time. They'll host Pacific on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Next up for Newburg is a matchup with Laquey on Thursday, Sept. 21.