Spartanburg, S.C. – The final day of the 2020 USA Softball Junior Olympic (JO) Cup came to a close as three champions were crowned across three age divisions. The TN Mojo organization had a big day with two of their teams walking away victorious after the week-long tournament. In the 14-Under division, it was Mojo 2024 – Ross who emerged as the champions after piecing together 14 hits in a 10-4 win over Florida Impact 05 – Gatewood. For the 16-Under division, TN Mojo earned a 5-0, shutout win over Gold Coast Hurricanes – Hammonds. In the 18-Under division, LLG DPS – Corn won their first USA Softball JO Cup title with a 3-1 win over Wildfire 18U - Paulson.
Despite going down by one run early in the game, Mojo 2024 – Ross took a lead in the top of the second and never looked back as the squad went on to claim a 10-4 win over Florida Impact 05 – Gatewood to take the title of Champion for the 14-Under division. The offense was simply unstoppable for the Mojo, with four batters having a multi-hit game, including three-hit performances from Brinli Bain and Willa Ford.
Florida Impact drove in the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning after a two-out single from Camryn Feast. A stolen base and error on the throw allowed Feast to reach third before a walk put runners on the corners. A passed ball allowed Feast to score from third, giving the Impact a one-run edge.
That lead did not last long, however, as the Mojo pushed across two runs to take the lead. A leadoff walk to Grace Jones, single from Willa Ford and sac fly from Kamryn Radley brought home the two runs. The Mojo added to that lead in the top of the third after a one out single from Ford. That lead was cut back down to one run by Florida Impact in the bottom of the frame after back-to-back singles by Feast and Kendall Wylie, and a ground ball to the shortstop allowed the runner to score from third.
The game got interesting in the bottom of the fourth when Florida Impact tied the game. A single from Victoria Ash put a runner on with one out and a flyball to left field moved her to second. A stolen base and error on the catcher brought Ash home, tying it up at three runs apiece after four complete innings.
The Mojo took the lead for good in the top of the fifth after Jones doubled with a runner on first, putting them up 4-3. The offense exploded in the top of the sixth, fueled by a pair of errors on the defense, to drive in four runs to push their lead to five runs.
Esther White and Bain drove in another pair of runs in the top of the seventh to give the Mojo a 10-3 lead. Down to their final at-bat, Florida Impact did not go down without a fight. After Feast reached first on a two-out error by the Mojo defense, a passed ball moved Feast to second before Wylie singled up the middle to cut the lead to 10-4. The team could not carry on the momentum, however, as a ground ball to the pitcher ended the game with Mojo 2024-Ross earning the 10-4 win.
TN Mojo followed their 14-Under counterparts in the USA Softball JO Cup 16-Under Championship Game, earning their respective title with a 5-0, shutout win over Gold Coast Hurricanes – Hammonds. The Mojo’s Lauren Derkowski struck out eight batters from the circle in the win, while a two RBI performance from Aubrey Barnhart at the plate fueled the Mojo offense.
The Mojo took advantage of a three-run second inning to set the tone early for the game. A leadoff single from Auburn Dupree put the leadoff runner on base before she quickly swiped second to put a runner in scoring position. Claire Czajkowski doubled with a line drive to center, giving Dupree time to score for the first run of the game. An error by the defense put another runner on base before a ground ball in the infield drove in the second run. A sac fly to left field brought in the third run of the at-bat, giving the Mojo a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Another run came home for the Mojo in the bottom of the fourth after a leadoff single from Morgan Nowakowski. Advancing to second after a pair of ground outs, a double by Barnhart brought in the fourth run of the contest. The fifth, and final, run of the game came for the Mojo in the bottom of the fifth inning when a two-out single from Dupree and an overthrown ball to first on the next batter allowed Dupree to cross the plate.
Gold Coast Hurricanes went down in order in the top of the sixth and put a runner on second with a one out double in their final at bat, but a line drive to center ended the game with the TN Mojo earning the 5-0 win.
It was truly a team effort for the LLG DPS – Corn as the team utilized nearly every player on their roster in a 3-1 win over Wildfire 18U – Paulson in the 18-Under division Championship Game. Taking advantage of a deep roster, four pitchers saw time in the circle while six batters recorded hits in their win.
Consistent offense proved to be the key for LLG as the team drove in each of their three runs in different innings of the contest. Starting in the bottom of the first, back-to-back singles off bunts from Elisa Smith and Tyesha Williams put two on early, but a pair of popups kept the runners at bay. A single up the middle by Karli Godwin drove in Smith, making it a 1-0 lead for LLG.
Wildfire put a runner on in the second with a one out single, but a popup and strikeout ended the threat. A passed ball allowed another LLG runner to score in the bottom of the second after Joie Fittantie doubled to start the at-bat. Maddie Lawson followed with a single, putting runners on the corners, but a strikeout kept them at bay. Savannah Nguyen entered as a pinch runner for Fittantie at third and took advantage of a passed ball to put the LLG up 2-0.
A three-up, three-down inning for both sides in the third inning kept the two-run lead and the Wildfire made the game interesting in the top of the fourth by loading the bases. Back-to-back singles by Jadeyn Ruszkowski and Lexie Scalzo put two on before a sac bunt and strikeout quickly recorded two outs. A walk continued the offense, but a fly ball to right field ended the threat.
LLG added another run to their lead in the bottom of the fourth when the leadoff batter reached on a walk. A sac bunt moved the runner to second and a strikeout looked to end the at-bat, but Allison Benning singled to center to bring in run number three.
Wildfire brought in a run in the top of the fifth inning, taking advantage of an error to put the leadoff batter on base. A single from Olivia Lipari put two on before a popup and strikeout looked to squash the rally attempt. A single by Scalzo brought in the runner from second, cutting LLG’s lead to 3-1.
LLG looked to add that that lead in the bottom of the sixth but were retired without a runner crossing the plate to bring Wildfire up for their final at-bat trailing by two. A sharply hit ground ball to third, fly ball to center and a caught line drive ended the game, with LLG DPS – Corn walking away with the 3-1 win.
The 18-Under division title game brought a close to the 2020 edition of the USA Softball JO Cup, with 78 teams from across the nation competing for this year’s title.