We've had nearly a month to let things settle on the 2018 NWLA Tournament, and it seems as if the next one should be right around the corner. The Freaky Franchise of the OCWA battled their way to a 5th place finish, let's take a look at how that happened, but things could've gone in an entirely different direction.
Let's start with pool play. These games have never mattered, and therefore, the decision was made to keep the top three pitchers off the mound for these games. The first game was a 16-6 win over BWBL, where the bats were alive and well. The second game ended 14-2 in favor of OCWA over BCW. These two games set up a premier match-up with WSEM, with the winner taking home the group win and a guaranteed top 3 seed. The bats were a little quieter in this one, but a few clutch hits combined with some walks had the OCWA up late. A few mistakes by yours truly on the mound ended as monster shots, but my lord and savior Ryan Bush ended up over the wall to rob a bomb, ending the game. 3-0. What a start for us.
This is where things got weird. Matched up against WILL in the 3-14 game, we gave the ball to our #3 guy in Tim Coykendall. He got through the first three innings unscathed, but struggled in the 4th, ultimately giving up 10 runs. I'll admit mismanagement here, as we were set up to go 2-2-2 and come out with a win. Ryan Bush came in to shut down the WILL offense, and also hit a clutch bomb, but we ultimately came up short, 10-8.
This is the second time we've lost to a 14 seed, so we knew we needed a bunch of wins to get to the title. Our stopper, Ryan Bush, shut down the BWBL offense in our first elimination game, and while the offense was non-existent to begin the game, they woke up in the 5th to score 3, which was enough. In other news, WSEM would lose their second round game, meaning we'd face them in the morning.
The road to the finals completely changed with that first round loss. It could've been WILL-HWL-HRL-GBL, but ended up being BWBL-WSEM-SWBL-AWAA. Here's the lesson, kids: Don't take any team for granted. This tournament has progressed to the point where any team can win any game if things fall right for them.
In the morning, we had another classic between WSEM and OCWA. Chris Roeder shut down the Dads' offense, but Travis Strojny matched him up until the 6th, when rookie Tim Coykendall hit a walkoff bomb. The electricity from that game carried over to a no-hitter by Ryan Bush against the vaunted SWBL offense. Finally, we ran out of gas in a mercy rule loss to AWAA, and our fight was over.
We had to beat the defending and three-time champs and the two-time runner up in order to scrap back to fifth. I'm overly proud of that. The fight our guys showed to not let themselves get overwhelmed by that gauntlet gives me great pride as a Manager and Co-Commish. That being said, I let my guys down by not managing ourselves to a win in that first game. That is on me, and we'll dive it to that in another article (coming out today as well!). All-in-all, we didn't achieve our goals for this tournament, but we fought like hell to get back to respectability. I'll take the fight over laying down and accepting defeat any day.