Down 3-0 early in the Wood Bat Classic tournament championship game, the Friends and Family softball team of Crescent City came back to defeat Smith River Rancheria, 5-4, and claim the championship trophy.
"We are true champions," Friends and Family team captain Chris Poole said. "We made some good plays. Our defense was pretty good. Our pitcher (Dirk O'Reilley) did a great job."
Friends and Family went undefeated (7-0) during the Wood Bat Classic, hosted by the Del Norte County Recreation Department. Smith River Rancheria went 6-2 for the tournament, with both losses coming at the hands of the champions.
Smith River Rancheria started the game by forcing consecutive three-and-outs while racking up three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Friends and Family came back to score two in the third, narrowly missing out on a chance to tie the game. Morgan Hueberger headed from second base to home plate after a single to right field, but Smith River Rancheria right fielder Bronson Richards' throw to catcher Troy Travis was on target. Travis applied the tag on Hueberger to end the inning and stanch the bleeding.
However, Smith River Rancheria's bats went cold, accumulating only three hits past the third inning. Friends and Family tied the score with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly, then scored the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning. A ground-ball single to right field went between Richards' legs with two men aboard.
Smith River Rancheria was sidelined in succession in the sixth inning, then scored a run on a fielder's choice in the seventh inning before the game's final out.
While most rec softball tournaments allow for aluminum bats, the use of wood bats at the Classic changed the game.
"It's a big difference," Poole said. "The ball just comes off the bat differently."
Travis Wright of Friends and Family was named Most Valuable Player for the tournament. J.R. Richards won Golden Glove honors, and David Beasley was crowned Batting Champion.
Members of the All-Tournament team include Ross Dickey, Cameron Van Landingham, Aaron Fitch, Justin Yslas, Todd McNamer, John Horner, Sean Harper, Josh Ritter, Johnny Maready, Stachy McLaughlin, Layton O'Reilley and Barrett McLaughlin.
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org.