By Lori Gottula
The Falls City Travelers’ 18-and-under team started its season with a bang this weekend, finishing second in the Spring Spectacular class B tournament in Kansas City, MO. The girls were sponsored this weekend by Al Lipka and Brandy Coulter (sister to coach Matt Bletscher) of Evans Lipka & Associates, Lincoln.
The girls played four games in pool play on Saturday and ended the day 4-0, including two come-from-behind victories. Pitchers Tayten O’Brien and Bailey Armbruster shared duties with 2 1/2 games and 1 1/2 games respectively. First baseman/third baseman Josie Lunsford had the only home run of the day, pounding out her homer in the second game of the tourney against the Pleasant Hill Venom softball club.
On Sunday, the Travelers drew a bye in the first round, but saw action at eleven a.m. when they faced off again against the Venom team. Tayten O’Brien took on the pitching duties, and the Travelers won that game in a hard-fought 5 to 4 contest, advancing to the championship game against the Kansas City Maniacs.
In the second inning of the championship game, the score was tied at twos when pitcher Tayten O’Brien stepped off the mound into a hole of sorts, fired the pitch, and buckled at the knee. The batter swung, and plopped a slow grounder back to Tayten, who fielded it on her knees, fired the ball to first, then collapsed in the dirt with a knee injury.
The Travelers then fought a hard contest against the Maniacs with pitchers Bailey Armbruster and Meredith Poppe, but the girls’ focus was on their teammate, so the Maniacs drilled in five runs to take the lead 7 to 2. The Travelers never gave up, though. They battled back in the final inning, adding two runs and loading the bases before a final pop-up to shortstop ended the game. The Travelers received the runner-up trophy, and the girls earned individual trophies in their first tourney of the year.