2003 held at Wallace Marine Park in West Salem, Oregon on August 4-10.
Champion – O.C. Batbusters, Santa Ana, California
Runner Up – Shamrocks, Vienna, Virginia
It’s become a repetitive tale for the Orange County Batbusters:
Lose their first game at the ASA 18 Gold National Championships, then win the rest and the national title in the process.
For the second consecutive year, the Batbusters won the national championship, this time a 5-1 win against the Shamrocks of Virginia in front of more than 500 people Sunday at Wallace Marine Park in West Salem.
“We got yelled at for losing, but I’d rather lose at the beginning than at the end,” said winning pitcher Lisa Dodd, one of six on the team from last year.
The Batbusters lost last year in the first game of the tournament to the Oregon Panthers. This year, the Batbusters lost their first game of pool play, a 2-1 decision against the Arizona Hotshots.
Orange County then won its next eight games in a row for the national title, including a 3-0 win against the Worth Fire-crackers earlier Sunday in the sixth round of winner’s bracket play.
“It was weird that it happened just like last year,” said Batbusters second-baseman Dominique LaStrapes, who will play at Washington next year.
The Shamrocks lost 11-9 to the Firecrackers in the semifinals of the winner’s bracket and won three games Sunday to get in the national championship game.
The Shamrocks beat the Firecrackers 9-3 in the final of the loser’s bracket to reach the championship game of the double-elimination tournament.
The Shamrocks also beat the Firecrackers 3-2 in the first game of pool play Tuesday. “It was such an honor just to be in this game,” said Shamrocks right fielder Kelley Brown, who played as a freshman at Virginia Tech last year.
“Our organization has been together since 1977, same coach and everything. This is the first time in the whole history of the organization that we’ve made it to the national championship game. It was such an honor to represent the East Coast.”
Orange County lead early
The Batbusters took the lead in the game in the first inning and never trailed.
LaStrapes, the leadoff hitter, started the game with a single off Shamrocks pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle.
Tara Henry walked and Dodd grounded out to advance the runners to second and third.
With two outs in the inning, Kristie Fox connected on a hard hit to Shamrocks short-stop Courtney Bures that Bures couldn’t field. That allowed LaStrapes to score for a 1-0 Orange County lead.
LaStrapes singled to start the third inning, and after Henry singled, Dodd hit into a fielder’s choice to advance LaStrapes to third.
LaStrapes scored when Michelle Smith hit into a sacrifice to give her team a 2-0 lead. Three times in the first four innings and four times in the game, Orange County led off the inning with a hit or a batter hit by a pitch.
“It was important because they were so strong offensively that you never know, in the next inning, they could score three runs,” LaStrapes said.
The Shamrocks got one run back in the bottom of the fourth when Brown hit a leadoff single and made it to third on a single from Dani Woods and a fielder’s choice by Alex Switenko.
Brown scored when Maddy Coon hit a deep fly into center-field.
Dodd solid outing
Except for the fourth inning, Dodd pitched a solid game. She struck out five, allowed three hits and no walks in seven innings of work.
“We knew we had to hit the ball, and we knew she had a good changeup,” said Brown, who was 2 for 3. “We pretty much knew everything that we were going into, it’s just that they happened to execute better than we did.”
The Batbusters put the game out of reach in the top of the seventh.
“Obviously you want to show them why you’re national champions, why you’re defending. When you’re on top, everyone wants to get the person on top. 16 more pressure, but its also fun.”
Lisa Dodd Batbusters’ winning pitcher
Jessica Runge reached on an error with one out. Jessica Hejne hit a bloop single into centerfield, and LaStrapes walked to load the bases.
Henry hit a sacrifice to score one runner, then Dodd hit a single to score two more for the final 5-1 tally.
“Obviously you want to show them why you’re national champions, why you’re defending,” said Dodd, who will play for defending NCAA Division I champion UCLA next year. “When you’re on top, everyone wants to get the person on top. It’s more pressure, but it’s also fun.”
For the Batbusters, LaStrapes was 2 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored and Dodd was 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
Top teams earn bids
Orange County, along with runner-up Shamrocks, third-place Worth Firecrackers and fourth-place Gordon’s Panthers each receive automatic bids to next year’s ASA 18 Gold National Championships to be played in Marietta, Georgia.
1. O.C. Batbusters, Santa Ana, CA (6-0)
2. Shamrocks, Vienna, VA (7-2)
3. Firecrackers, Huntington Beach, CA (6-2)
4. Gordon’s Panthers, Fullerton, CA (6-2)
5t. Case Batbusters, Santa Ana, CA (7-2)
5t. Lady Gators, Palm Beach Gardens, FL (4-2)
7t. Fresno Force, Fresno, CA (4-2)
7t. California Lite, Rialto, CA (5-2)
9t. San Jose Strikkers, San Jose, CA (3-2)
9t. Tulsa Eagles, Tulsa, OK (3-2)
9t. Salinas Storm, Salinas, CA (4-2)
9t. Missouri City Magic, Missouri City, TX (5-2)
13t. American Pastime, Upland, CA (3-2)
13t. Impact Gold, Houston, TX (3-2)
13t. So Cal Athletics, Montclair, CA (4-2)
13t. So Cal Lightning, Chula Vista, CA (4-2)
17t. Arizona Outlaws, Peoria, AZ (3-2)
17t. Orland Park Sparks, Orland Park, IL (2-2)
17t. Tampa Mustangs, Lutz, FL (2-2)
17t. Washington Ladyhawks, Woodinville, WA (2-2)
17t. California Cruisers, La Palma, CA (3-2)
17t. So Cal Breakers, Encinitas, CA (3-2)
17t. Texas Elite, Grand Prairie, TX (3-2)
17t. Gold Coast Hurricane, Cooper City, FL (2-2)
25t. Georgia Elite, Douglasville, GA (2-2)
25t. Houston Power, Houston, TX (2-2)
25t. KC Peppers, Olathe, KS (2-2)
25t. USA Athletics, Anaheim, CA (2-2)
25t. Glacier NW, Vancouver, WA (2-2)
25t. NJ Pride, Newark, NJ (2-2)
25t. Oregon Panthers, Salem, OR (2-2)
25t. Sacramento Rush, Sacramento, CA (2-2)
33t. Anaheim O.C. Batbusters, Garden Grove, CA (1-2)
33t. Beach Girls, Brooklyn, NY (1-2)
33t. Blazing Angels, Cheltenham, PA (1-2)
33t. NW Extreme, Canby, OR (1-2)
33t. San Diego Renegades, San Diego, CA (1-2)
33t. Arizona Hotshots, Tempe, AZ (1-2)
33t. California Waves, Santa Barbara, CA (1-2)
33t. Colorado Legend, Parker, CO (1-2)
33t. KC Xtreme, Olathe, KS (1-2)
33t. Louisiana Reflections, Lafayette, LA (1-2)
33t. Maddogs, Alliance, OH (1-2)
33t. Phoenix Storm Swan, Phoenix, AZ (1-2)
33t. So Cal Diamonds, Newbury Park, CA (1-2)
33t. Sudden Impact Gold, Houston, TX (1-2)
33t. Texas Storm, Pearland, TX (1-2)
33t. Valley Breeze, San Fernando, CA (1-2)
49t. Atlanta Vipers, Atlanta, GA (0-2)
49t. Colorado Stars, Boulder, CO (0-2)
49t. Georgia Fire, Roswell, GA (0-2)
49t. Katy Express, Katy, TX (0-2)
49t. Lil Saints, Peoria, AZ (0-2)
49t. Louisiana Voodoo, New Orleans, LA (0-2)
49t. Oklahoma Twisters, Norman, OK (0-2)
49t. Panthers, Glendale, CA (0-2)
49t. Phoenix Storm Moloney, Phoenix, AZ (0-2)
49t. So Cal Pride, Newhall, CA (0-2)
49t. Southern Force, Johnston City, IL (0-2)
49t. Strike Zone, Hayward, CA (0-2)
49t. Texas Eclipse, Houston, TX (0-2)
49t. Texas Hawks, Conroe, TX (0-2)
49t. Texas High Voltage, Houston, TX (0-2)
49t. Vipers, Moreno Valley, CA (0-2)