SALEM, Va. – The final day of the 2021 USA Softball GOLD Nationals was full of thrilling action as six teams from each division battled on the field to make it to the Championship games. Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko walked away with the trophy in the 16-Under division and Windermere Wildfire 18U – Paulson was crowned Champion in the 18-Under division.
Starting off the day in the 16-Under division winner’s bracket, Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko sealed their ticket into the final match by knocking off the Atlanta Vipers 04 Palazzo in a close 3-2 game. The Vipers went on to play Florida Gold John in the loser’s bracket semi-finals but fell 10-6 after a six-run fifth inning from Florida Gold put them behind for good.
Florida Gold John, in their fourth game of the day, proceeded to face the undefeated Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko in the 16-Under 2021 GOLD National Championship game.
Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko came out hot, tacking on five runs in the first inning. Brenna Farmer (Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko) sent a grand slam deep over the center field fence, supplying her team with insurance runs early-on. Finesse held on to their lead and continued to add on throughout the entire game finishing with a 10-2 run-rule victory after the fifth inning. Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko had 10 hits in the contest and a total of 62 hits in the tournament. Kelsey Nader (Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko) accounts for 13 of those hits, posting an impressive .565 batting average during GOLD Nationals. In the circle for Finesse, Macy Irelan (Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko) did her job and successfully worked her pitches to her advantage. With solid defense and contagious hitting, it was a great team win for Finesse 16U Dreher/ Lesko, the 16U 2021 USA Softball GOLD National Champions.
Windermere Wildfire 18U – Paulson put on an unbelievable show in the 18-Under bracket on the final day of the tournament. Clawing their way out of the loser’s bracket, Windermere Wildfire arrived in the Championship game on a three-game winning streak and went on to win the 3 p.m. Championship contest as well to force an “if-necessary” game. Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson showcased their grit and resilience throughout the entire day, playing a total of five games and capturing the 18U 2021 USA Softball GOLD National Championship title.
The 18U Championship matchup was between Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson and Florida Storm-National Shepherd. The offense was relatively quiet on both sides of the field as Windermere Wildfire took the game 1-0 in a close defensive battle. Cat Buckner (Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson) efficiently shut out Florida Storm-National Shepherd, only letting up five hits in seven innings of work. Dylan Anthony (Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson) sparked a rally for Windermere Wildfire in the second inning by smacking a hard-shot triple to center field. Lexi Scalzo (Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson) followed with a clutch sac fly to left field to bring Anthony in and score the only run of the game allowing Windermere Wildfire to pull ahead and force the “if-necessary” game.
The bats came alive in the final contest with the box score totaling 23 runs on 27 hits. The score pinballed throughout the game as both teams played their hearts out and kept their foot on the gas. The deciding runs came in the sixth inning after a double from Scalzo (Windermere Wildfire 18U – Paulson) gave her team the lead they needed to come out on top.
Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson had an impressive 149 hits in the week-long GOLD National Championship with Charli Warren (Windermere Wildfire 18U - Paulson) leading the squad with 26 hits.