Improving Humboldt Storm place second at CSA tournament

Submitted photos – The Storm players celebrate their second-place finish at last weekend’s tournament.

The Humboldt Storm 14Us enjoyed their most impressive showing yet at this past weekend’s CSA End of Season Tournament in Vacaville.

Despite playing up a division and featuring some 12-year-olds on their roster, the young Storm players rose to the occasion and placed second in their bracket.

And they did so in just their second year playing travel ball together.

The team, which is based out of Rio Dell, features players from Rio Dell, Scotia, Hoopa, Fortuna and Eureka, most of whom had only played recreational youth softball before.

But this C division roster is beginning to show a lot of improvement and coming off their most competitive tournament performance against B division teams.

“That’s what I had to remind them,” coach Bailey Sanderson said. “We played a very good B team in the championship.

“They were bummed they didn’t win, but they were very happy with how they played. They’re getting better. That’s the main thing, they’re getting better.”

They also came together more as the tournament progressed and did so while playing in temperatures in the mid 90s.

After winning just one of three pool games on Saturday, the Storm bats came alive on Sunday, paving the way for two straight wins that advanced them to the championship game against the NorCal Renegades.

The Storm defeated the Marin Tremors 11-8 in the semifinal — a team that had beaten them by seven runs the previous day — after earlier defeating the No. 2 seed Nevada Rampage 8-4.

“We hit the ball really well on Sunday,” the coach said. “I couldn’t have asked for better. It was a major improvement.”

The Storm have plenty of depth in the circle and used six different pitchers in tournament play, all of whom helped set the early tone and allowed their defense to make the plays behind them.

“As a group, they killed it, especially on Saturday.” Sanderson said of the pitchers. “We have a saying on this team that we don’t care about the strikeouts, all we care about is getting the ball over the plate, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Olivia Gossi and Breonna Crnkovich were each particularly impressive in the circle, with teammates Tylie Mckinnon, Jamilet Ortega-Miranda, Kaleya Parkinson and Bryce Sanderson each also giving the coaches plenty of pitching options.

Crnkovich allowed just two hits in almost five innings work during the two wins on Sunday.

Mckinnon, Parkinson and Sephora Machado led the way at the plate.

Machado finished the tournament 8-for-12 and provided some power with a triple and a double, while Parkinson was 9-for-13 with a double and Mckinnon was 8-for-13.

Ortega-Miranda also made some noise at the plate and was 6-for-10 with three walks, while Sanderson finished 7-for-12.

Defensively Parkinson had a big weekend behind the plate, catching all but six innings in tournament play, when she wasn’t pitching or playing shortstop.

The young standout also helped turn a big double play with second baseman Abigail Gossi, as the team’s two 12-year-olds had a big impact.

Olivia Gossi also made some big plays defensively in center field, catching just about everything that came her way

“All the way around, our team came together and made the plays we needed to back up our pitchers,” said the coach, who added “I asked them to do one thing this week and that was to expand their zones when hitting, and that’s exactly what they did.”

This dedicated group of players, who are all multi-sport athletes, should only continue to get better and improve as a team.

“One thing I like is they’re all willing to learn,” Bailey Sanderson said. “And I like the fact they show up to practice during summer when they could be doing other things.”

Roxy Colegrove, Jaylynn Jacobs and Brooklyn Gonzalez each also played key roles for the team, which is also coached by Ben Sanderson and Cayden Pope.

“I am really proud of these girls coming back to win two of three games on Sunday,” Bailey Sanderson said of her players, who played three games in five hours in 95 degrees. “When this team plays together and everything clicks it really is fun to watch.”

The Storm will play one more tournament this summer in Redding later this month.

Categories: Softball, Youth sports

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