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By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hot bats bring home championship for 16U Wildfires

 

July 19, 2018

COURTESY/ Dave and Deb Coronado

The Worland Wildfires pose together after winning the Wyoming USA fastpitch state championship game in the recreation division. Pictured are, left to right, front row Callista Day, Rylee Wagner, Raelynn Fronk, Korah Butler and Zoe Fernandez; back row coach Dave Coronado, coach John Butler, Brooke Hellyer, Raychel Duffy, Carmyn Buckman, Kylie Fronk, Baylee Drewry, Vivian Mosbroker, coach Jeff Buckman and coach Kristin Buckman.

WORLAND - After last season ended with a loss in the Wyoming USA fastpitch state championship game, the Worland 16U Wildfires team made a goal for the 2018 season, make it back to the title game and win it. The Wildfires were able to check that goal off last Saturday in Casper as they defeated the Casper Cobras 18-7 to win the recreation division.

The Wildfires played a total of five games going 4-1 against the Riverton Trailblazers and Casper Cobras, with their only loss coming in their first game of the tournament. While there were only three teams in the recreation division that doesn't lessen the Wildfires title by any means.

"Some people might diminish the fact that there only three teams but we don't as the games were highly competitive against the other two," said Wildfires coach Dave Coronado. "Our coaching staff and players set the goal last year to not only reach the state championship but to win it. We battled through many issues, as all teams do, injuries, attitudes, batting slumps, losing streaks and a new challenge for them was learning about the growth mindset. Most have now grasped it and are doing a great job now, moving from the performance to refocusing to achieve the immediate challenge at hand."

POOL PLAY

TRAILBLAZERS 12, WILDFIRES 10

The Wildfires first game at state saw them fall three runs short of a W. What was frustrating about the loss was many of their struggles in the game were self-inflicted.

Worland pitchers Zoe Fernandez and Rylee Wagner stuck out nine Riverton batters but also walked 12. The team did put up 10 runs on just four total hits but they left 14 runners on base and even had the bases loaded with one out in the final inning but the final two batters struck out.

New addition Baylee Drewry went 2-2 and one RBI to lead the team in hits.

WILDFIRES 9, CASPER COBRAS 7

The Wildfires got back on track with a win in their second game. Brooke Hellyer threw five innings, logged seven strikeouts and only gave up two hits.

Worland's bats couldn't find their rhythm against Riverton but against Casper, they came alive as the team logged 13 hits. Drewry led the Wildfires again at the plate, going 4-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Korah Butler, Vivian Mosbroker and Rylee Wagner had two hits each.

"In Game 2 the girls brought the lumber and began to crush the ball. They hit the ball hard with line drive after line drive coming off their bats. Their confidence continued to grow offensively with each at-bat and game," said Coronado.

On defense, Raelynn Fronk made the play of the game by catching a rising line drive that squashed a Cobra rally and maintained the Wildfire lead.

TOURNAMENT PLAY

WILDFIRES 11, TRAILBLAZERS 4

The bats and gloves for the Wildfires worked in tandem as they avenged their loss to Riverton by putting up their most dominant victory of the tournament. Fernandez and Hellyer combined for a no-hitter and struck out seven.

Carmyn Buckman led Worland with two hits and Kylee Fronk was the team leader in RBIs for the game.

SEMIFINALS

WILDFIRES 10 COBRAS 7

In another tight contest against Casper, Worland found a way to string together more plays for the win. Fernandez and Hellyer once again led the charge from the pitcher's mound, allowing only seven hits and racking up five Ks.

Buckman went 3-3 with her bat, knocking in two runs and scoring one herself. Drewry, Mosbroker, Kylee Fronk and Rylee Wagner had two hits apiece.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

WILDFIRES 18, COBRAS 7

As a way to relax his team before the championship game, Coronado had his players think back when they first started playing softball.

"We had fun talking about how we could barely throw and hit the ball and how much they have grown mentally and physically. I told them when we walk off the field they will walk off as state champions and to not waste the opportunity as it may never come again. I told them to enjoy the moment and give us all they have into every pitch, and every play as they will have to make a shining moment to last a lifetime," said Coronado.

The Wildfire bats were on a roll the past three games but for the championship game, they saved their best performance for last.

Worland had 20 hits and put up 18 runs, Buckman and Korah Butler were the team leaders at the plate. Each hitter racked up four hits, scored three runs and had two RBIs.

Wagner was the team's RBI leader with five, on 3-4 hitting.

Worland had two seven-run innings, one in the bottom of the first and the other in the fourth. Their seven runs in the bottom of the first came during a two-out rally that was sparked by Butler.

Fernandez and Hellyer helped lockdown the Casper batters by giving up four hits, walking five and striking out four.

For the tournament three players hit .700 or better, Wagner led the team in batting average going 9-12 and bringing in a team-high 11 RBIs. Drewry went 10-14 to hit .714 with seven RBIs and Buckman went 11-15 with a batting average of .733 and seven RBIs. All three players did not record a single strikeout at the plate. As a collective, the Wildfires hit .460 going 47-107.

"Baylee Drewry from Greybull was probably the key ingredient to winning the championship. Baylee brought energy and intensity to the team along with her blazing foot speed and strong arm at shortstop," said Coronado.

The season has had its peaks and valleys this season but in the end, the Wildfires were able to battle through those tough moments and as a result ended the season as champions.

"We had a team meeting two weeks ago discussing their strengths and weakness as individuals and as a team. We focused on new drills while putting players in positions that put us in a better position to win the title. We made adjustments after the first game putting Baylee at shortstop which made us immediately stronger defensively," said Coronado.

The journey to this championship has definitely created for the Wildfire players and coaches. Of those memories, the sportsmanship and general comradery the Wildfire players showed off the field is what will stick with Coronado the most.

"One of the best memories for us was the character shown by the girls on and off the field. They love the game and shared laughter, love and hugs with other coaches and players throughout the tournament," said Coronado. "Many coaches congratulated us with texts and phone calls sharing with us how much they admire our classy organization how happy they were to see us win.

WORLAND 12U WILDFIRES

Competing in their first state tournament as a group the Worland 12U Wildfires, led by coaches Charity Glanz and James Daugherty, went 2-4 finishing in fourth place. It was a great learning experience for a young team that continued to improve on the field, and one that could be the catalyst to a championship down the road.

 
 

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