Blue Angels cruise to Jaycees softball championship Upstart Jaybirds, Orange Crush peak for playoffs, capture titles

July 01, 1992|By Mike Nortrup | Mike Nortrup,Contributing Sports Writer

WESTMINSTER -- Blue Angels co-manager Jeff Herbert said his team "would be lucky to play .500 ball" when the Westminster Jaycees girls softball campaign began in April.

That assessment quickly changed, and the Angels cruised to the Bantam division title with a 14-0 regular season.

The 7- to 10-year-olds continued their diamond dynamism last weekend, sweeping four games to take the league's postseason crown, clinching it Sunday afternoon by topping the Ravens, 10-6, at Jaycees Park.

Sunday's other postseason tourney finals saw the Jaybirds top the Aces, 9-6, to take the Junior (ages 13-16) title and the Orange Crush swamp the Fillies, 15-1, in the Ponytail (ages 11-12) final.

The latter two results might be a bit surprising, with regular-season, third-place teams winning in postseason.

But the Angels have been doing it all year.

"After three games [all lopsided wins] I told [co-manager George Roulette], 'We have a good team here,' " Herbert recalled.

The tournament proved tougher, though, particularly the final, where the Angels trailed in a game for only the second time this year.

"That game about gave me an ulcer," said Herbert, whose squad trailed, 6-3, in the home fourth.

But the Blue Angels erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the inning, with Kerry Cromey tying it with a single and the go-ahead run scoring on a bases-loaded walk.

Most of the heroics this season were with the glove, Roulette said.

"The defense stopped the opposing team most of the time and kept us in the groove," he said.

The Jaybirds didn't really hit their groove until Saturday, knocking off the regular-season champion Firebirds, 13-6.

"I could see the girls pick up. It was a big key game," said Jaybird manager Bill Hughes, whose team had lost twice to the Firebirds in regular-season play.

The Jaybirds upended the Aces, 14-3, earlier Sunday, but the Aces came back from the losers' bracket for a rematch.

Hughes' team was in trouble early, as the Aces jumped on top, 5-1. But Deana Skur's two-run single tied it in the home third. Christina Beal's single plated the go-ahead run in the fourth -- the first of four the Jaybirds would score in the inning as they took a 9-5 lead.

The Aces never recovered.

"I'm very pleased," Hughes said. "We had a lot of strong defensive play and a balanced attack. The whole doggone team did an excellent job."

So did the Orange Crush, which also discovered the formula for success last weekend after finishing out of the money in the regular season.

"In my years of coaching I've never seen a team just crush the ball like we did," said manager Jack Wunderlich.

Like the Jaybirds, the Crush's key win came in an early playoff game against the league leaders, the Fawns.

The latter had gone 14-0 in the regular season, including a lopsided win over the Crush.

Saturday's 8-7 win over the Fawns "was a pivotal game," Wunderlich said.

The Crush then reduced its last three opponents to rubble by a combined score of 57-12.

"I told them afterward, 'I don't know what you ate, but you should package it and sell it,' " Wunderlich said with a laugh.

"It's been a good year. The kids had had a lot of fun. They peaked at the right time."

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