OKLAHOMA CITY – The final day of the 2022 USA Softball Gold Nationals was full of exciting action as four teams battled in their respective division’s Championship game at the Softball Capital of the World®. This concluded the weeklong tournament which began on Sunday, July 17 with a field of 51 teams in pursuit of the coveted trophy.
The 18-Under Championship game kicked off first this morning but was forced into an “if-necessary” game as Wichita Mustangs beat the undefeated Florida Storm National Shepherd. Wichita Mustangs kept the momentum into the afternoon and was crowned Champion in the 18-Under division. In the 16-Under division, Oklahoma Pure Fastpitch Melson 05 Premier walked away with the trophy by knocking off LA Blazers Elite 16U Black in a close matchup.
The 18-Under division showcased a pitcher’s duel with Wichita Mustangs securing two wins over Florida Storm National Shepherd to claim the title. In the first 18-Under matchup of the day, scoring opened early for Florida Storm National Shepherd as Alley Turner was hit by a pitch and drove in their lone run of the day. After multiple scoreless innings, Wichita Mustangs strung base hits together which led to a single by Maddox Thomas and allowed two runs to be scored to secure the game, 2-1. The highlight performance by Wichita State’s Shelby Allen did not go unnoticed as she went 3-for-3 at the plate – all in which were doubles – and secured a run.
The second game of the 18-Under division kicked off at 1 p.m. CT as both squads remained strong on the rubber. The two teams were held scoreless through the first three innings until the Wichita Mustangs broke through on a fly ball to center field by Makayla Navarro with the runner on third advancing to tally on a run. Kara Cortes followed in the fifth with a clutch ground ball to center field as another run was scored. These pair of runs and a breakout performance by Katelynn Oxley throwing a complete game, striking out eleven players, and posting a shutout, helped the Wichita Mustangs take the game, 2-0, and secure the trophy.
Florida Storm National Shepherd concludes their Gold Nationals journey with an overall 7-3 record and extremely impressive numbers. The team tallied 78 hits and 34 runs including their pitching staff only giving up 12 runs and totaling a .959 ERA throughout their 10 games. The Wichita Mustangs leave Oklahoma City the 18-Under Gold Nationals champions with an astounding 9-1 record stacking up 101 hits, 55 runners batted in, and six homeruns. Defensively they held strong with a .974 fielding percent behind their pitchers who fanned 73 batters.
The 16-Under championship game proved to be competitive as Oklahoma Pure Fastpitch Melson 05 Premier and LA Blazers Elite 16U Black showcased their grit throughout the entire game. LA Blazers Elite 16U Black was the first on the board as Brilee Ford smacked a hard-shot triple to right field advancing a runner before scoring on an error to make it 2-0. LA Blazers Elite 16U Black tacked on another run in the third but Oklahoma Pure Fastpitch Melson 05 Premier’s Rylee Watkins sparked a rally with a needed sac fly to score their first run. From there, Oklahoma Pure Fastpitch Melson 05 Premier scored four more runs in the fifth and sixth innings compared to LA Blazers Elite 16U Black’s one additional run. On the mound, Brynlee Alsip carried Oklahoma Pure Fastpitch Melson 05 Premier to a 5-4 victory as she threw a complete game, only allowed three earned runs, and didn’t walk any batters.
LA Blazers Elite 16U Black had many remarkable performances during this event posting a 7-2 record, recording 107 hits, and amounting a .384 team batting average. In the field, pitchers posted 24 strikeouts while the defense supported them with a .964 fielding percentage. Oklahoma Pure Fastpitch Melson 05 Premier, the 18-Under champions, also held a 7-2 record through the tournament totaling 88 hits, 67 runs, and a .359 batting average. The pitching staff held steady fanning 33 batters and only allowing 28 runs throughout the tournament.