Storm terrorizes tourney

Published 7:53 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

Pictured above is the crumbled frame of a tent that was destroyed by wind gusts during a storm that washed out the action at the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional tournament at the Sara Law Complex and sent three people to the hospital on Friday. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

WINTERVILLE — Washington 10U All-Stars coach Dallis Tucker has made several brilliant strategically moves this summer but his best call came on Friday during a rain delay at the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional tournament at the Sara Law Complex.
Having just taken a 3-1 lead against rival Pitt County after the top of the third inning, a once-sunny sky turned gravely gray faster than an Abbigail Tucker fastball and within moments the previously dusty diamond was turned into a muddy mess.
Players, coaches and spectators immediately flocked underneath tents and whatever shelter they could find but when the intensity of the storm picked up the winds began to gust with fury and Tucker wisely moved his team into The Zone, the complex’s indoor practice facility.
“We had a change of innings and before our pitcher could go back out the rain fell out of the sky and the wind gusts picked up,” Tucker said. “I thought the best act of safety for my kids was to try to get them indoors in The Zone.”
The heavy wind gusts began at approximately 2:30 p.m. and lasted for roughly 15 minutes, which was long enough to send three people to Vidant Hospital after they sustained injuries from the flying debris and collapsing tents, which included one girl from the Pitt 10U team. Tournament director Bo Batts estimated that less than 10 other people received lesser injuries and were treated by an on-site EMS staff.
While mayhem took place across the spacious complex the Washington All-Stars were safe and sound in The Zone thanks to Tucker.
Batts said he and his staff expected rain at some point Friday but was caught off guard by the extreme wind gusts and the speed in which the storm approached.
“We watch the weather constantly out here,” Batts said. “The biggest thing we heard was that there was potential for a storm north of (Highway) 264 and we’re 25 miles from 264 so we though we might get out of this ok.
“We were watching this storm for two hours and we saw that this thing was making up but it looked like it was going underneath us. The next thing you know (the weather radar) showed scary red right on top of us. It went from yellow to red with no warning or a lightning flash.”
Tucker said that when the storm hit his priorities shifted from from softball to safety.
“I was the last one out of the dugout and pushing my kids forward trying to get everyone in (The Zone),” Tucker said. “You could hear the metal from the signs whipping and coming off. I just did not want one of those metal signs flying through a crowd of people and I just wanted everyone indoors and in coverage.”
It was a long day for the 10Us as a seeding controversy led them to play a morning game when the team previously thought it would get a bye.
The Washington 12U All-Stars also began bracket play and topped Kinston-Lenoir 3-0 in their only game of the day.
The 10U All-Stars were not phased by the extra game as they went out and topped Bethlehem (Pa.) 5-1 as Lily Wright and Summer Campbell threw three innings each in the win to up the team’s record to 1-0 in bracket play. Sydney Keech went 2-2, while Tucker, Campbell and Macy Main added a hit each.
The team played flawless defense, which was highlighted by centerfielder Elizabeth Heath who made two diving catches that deflated Bethlehem.
“We won that game because our defense played extraordinary,” Tucker said. “We caught sharp hit balls in the infield and the outfield. Elizabeth Heath made two great catches in the outfield where she had to run and literally dive and belly flop to catch them. That fired our girls up and took the energy out of their team. It sucked the air out of the other team’s dugout.”
In the following game, before the wind turned objects into weapons, the All-Stars took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Heath and Tucker scored from third on a passed balls.
Pitt rallied for a run in the bottom of the first, but Washington answered in the top of the third when Emme Davis drove in a run and Keech plated two more to take a 5-1 advantage before the storm hit.
The game is scheduled to resume today at 8 a.m.
The 12U All-Stars played dominant defense as well as pitcher Bekah Williams entered the game in the third in relief of starter Rachel Lang, who pitched the first two innings before stepping off the mound after getting hit by a pitch on her non-throwing arm during an at-bat the previous inning.
With a 2-0 lead in hand Williams pitched the final four innings and did a good job of keeping the ball low as she induced grounder after grounder to stymie the Kinston-Lenoir attack.
The final out of the game punctuated the team’s defensive effort as second baseman Sydney Edwards made a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right field to cement the victory.
“I’m real pleased because last week we played this team in the first game of bracket play (in the state tournament) and they beat us and we didn’t want to repeat that today,” 12U coach Seth Edwards said. “In a close ball game I told these girls you have to make the routine plays – and that was a spectacular play to end the game — but our shortstop (Meghan Moore) made some great plays to squelch their rallies so I’m real pleased with them.”
The 12Us took a 1-0 lead in the second on a Blake Swanner RBI slap-hit and went up 2-0 thanks to a Edwards RBI. The All-Stars final run came when Lang belted an RBI double in the fifth to score Edwards.
The win gives Washington a 1-0 record in bracket play as it heads into its showdown with undefeated rival Pitt County today at noon.