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TRAVEL SOFTBALL UPDATE: Area athletes wrapping up TCIC, more playing in another prestigious tournament

July 4, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

The Fourth of July is known for a lot of things, capped off many fireworks shows across the country. But every late June into the first days of July, the Denver metropolitan area has its own fireworks and sparklers, but in a different way.

Beginning with the Triple Crown International Challenge, held last Friday through this past Sunday at Christopher Fields Complex in Westminster, the travel softball scene shifted to the popular Triple Crown Sports Colorado Fourth of July Sparkler and Fireworks Tournament, which ends Sunday, and several area players are a part of one or both of those events.

This is the 55th Fireworks Tournament and the 22nd year for the Sparkler Tournament. Catcher Rebecca Eckart (La Mirada High/University of Notre Dame) represented Team Mexico in the TCIC, which won all three of its pool play games, then defeated Team Italy 7-2 in the single elimination playoffs before falling to Team Cuba 3-1 this past Sunday.

Last Friday, Eckart was hitless in one at-bat but drew a walk in a 10-2 victory. Immediately after the win, Team Mexico blasted Team Netherlands 12-2 as Eckart went two for three, drove in a pair of runs and scored once. She had a run-scoring double in the bottom of the first to begin the scoring and scored two pitches later.

Last Saturday morning, Eckart didn’t play as Team Mexico eased past Team Germany 9-2, but this past Sunday morning against Team Italy, Eckart went three for three before going one for three in the semifinal loss to Team Cuba.

In the bronze medal game against Team Japan, Eckart was hitless in one at-bat and drew a walk in a 13-1 setback.

Representing Team Chinese Taipei, which split its first two pool play games, is Valley Christian High pitcher and outfielder Rachel Zhang. Last Friday morning, Team Chinese Taipei fell to Team Philippines 8-3 as Zhang was hitless in her lone at-bat and gave up just one hit in two innings of work in the circle, striking out four batters.

But she gave up four runs and walked two as all the damage off Zhang was in the bottom of the first inning. Right after the game, Zhang was a spectator as Team Chinese Taipei got past Team Dominican Republic 10-8.

Trailing 4-0 after half an inning, Team Chinese Taipei scored six times in the bottom of the first and added two more in each of the next two innings. Last Saturday morning, Zhang pitched four innings, struck out four, gave up two hits and an unearned run as part of a 4-4 tie against Team Canada. She would also go hitless in her one at-bat.

Later in the day, Zhang again went hitless in her only at-bat as her team fell to the Chinese Taipei National Team 4-3. In the Triple Crown Sports 16-Under National Power Pool of the Sparkler and Fireworks Tournament, V.C. catcher Peyton Kingery is with her (Riverside) BSC Bengals-Briggs team that defeated the (Beech Grove) Indiana Magic Gold-Moore/Carmicheal 7-5 and the (Kanehoe) LK Black Hawai’i 20-17 this past Tuesday before falling to the (Wentzville, MO) Unity-Slezak 17-8 this past Wednesday.

Kingery did not have an at-bat against the Indiana Magic but combined to go four for seven with three RBI and a run scored in the next two games.

Gahr High’s Malaia Huskey and V.C.’s Branna Ramirez play for the (Fountain Valley) Explosion-Kim/Adame which defeated the (Bensenville, IL) Chicago Cheetahs-Connolly 5-2 before falling to the (Mesa) Arizona Storm National-Appel 6-4 this past Tuesday. The Explosion then lost to the LK Black Hawai’i 11-6 this past Wednesday. Huskey went one for two and drove in a run in the first game.

Angelina Ratzlaff of La Mirada and Katherine Villegas of Cerritos High play for the (Westminster) USA Athletics Gold-Rogers, which lost its first four games by a combined score of 44-19. Ratzlaff went a combined two for 10 on those games with a double, a run scored and two RBI.

In the 18-Under Supplemental Pool, the Corona Angels-Tyson is home to La Mirada pitcher Montserrat Reyes-Cardenas, a San Diego State University commit. The Corona Angels squeaked past the (Pearland, TX) Impact Gold-Jackson 2-1 before falling to the (Chino Hills) Orange County Batbusters-Stith 15-8 this past Tuesday. Reyes-Cardenas worked one inning, gave up two hits and two earned runs.

V.C.’s Zoee Barrett and Choyce Chambers are with the (Downey) Nemesis Elite Gold, which split a pair of games this past Wednesday in the 18-Under Fireworks Power Pool. In a 16-8 loss to the (Littleton) Colorado Batbusters-Acree, Chambers went two for three, drove in a run and scored a run while Barrett was hitless in one at-bat coming off the bench. The Nemesis then defeated the (Rocklin, CA) Hype Fastpitch-Watson as Chambers went one for three and scored a run while Barrett went two for two and had two RBI.

The (Garden Grove) West Coast Lady Dukes-Blanco, with La Mirada’s Alyssa Avila and Angelyna Conde, won a pair of games this past Tuesday. in an 11-7 win over the (Tucson) Impulse-Nielson, Conde went three for four, scored twice and drove in a run with a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning. In a 9-8 win over the (Savage, MN) Catalyst National MN, Conde went three for four, scored four times and had two RBI on a home run in the top of the seventh while Avila had a top of the fifth inning double and later scored.