Diamond Dusters make early exit from tourney

"The Diamond Dusters 16-and-under Red fastpitch team's string of doing the right things at the right times was getting pretty lengthy.But it broke last Friday afternoon, and at the worst possible time.Just shows you what one bad inning can do to you, said Reds coach Bruce Welling after his team lost its opener in the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Northwest Regional tournament at South End Recreation Area (SERA).The Dusters surrendered three runs, two of them unearned, in the fatal fourth inning of a 3-0 loss to Sammamish's Lady Hawks.That dropped the Reds into the elimination bracket, where they managed one win before bowing out of the 24-team tournament.It was a stark contrast to the previous two tourneys for Welling's team, which won both the National Softball Association (NSA) and ASA state titles earlier in July.We just didn't hit the ball very well this weekend, said Welling.Both Dusters 16-and-under teams - Welling's Reds and Dick Thompson's Golds - move on to the ASA Western National tournament which begins Tuesday, Aug. 7 at Turlock, Calif.The Golds, which Thompson only half-jokingly referred to as Team MASH (the abbreviation for a Mobil Army Surgical Hospital), fared better in the regional, compiling a 3-2 record and tying for fifth place.Lake Breeze, a team based in Lake Stevens that features pitchers Jill Bruins of Klahowya and Tiffany McDonald of North Mason, won the three-day tournament.The Reds, who received a bye through the tournament's first round, were locked in a scoreless duel with the Lady Hawks in their second-rounder. Jackie Quint was frustrating the Hawks' hitters, but the Dusters weren't able to get anything done against her counterpart, Emily Wetzel.In the fourth, though, the Hawks loaded the bases with nobody out. Jackie Binns handled a shallow fly ball to left for the first out, but then first baseman Kara Welling and catcher Karen Sjostrom couldn't connect on an attempted force-out at the plate. The ball got away and two runs scored. The third scored on a fielder's choice.After that, Wetzel just seemed to get tougher and tougher. Mixing her fastball with a lethal change-up, she struck out five straight batters at one point, finishing with nine Ks for the game.She mixed things up real well, Bruce Welling admitted, but we should've hit her better, I thought.The Reds got only one baserunner in their last four at bats, when Cathy Kneiss singled to left with one out in the sixth. Kneiss was doubled off second to end the inning though after Kara Welling popped out to Ashley Blier in foul territory wide of third base.While the Reds were struggling to get timely hits, the Golds got what they needed not once, but twice in the first two games from shortstop Lauren Haas.Haas, a sophomore at Olympic High School, spanked a bases-loaded single up the middle with one out in the sixth to score Bainbridge's Amanda Perna with the winning run in a 3-2 tournament-opening win over the Blaze, from Grant's Pass, Ore. She then scored the winning run against Xtreme, singling to right, taking two bases as teammate Kris Malijan was thrown out at the plate and scoring on a passed ball.The Golds won a third game 4-0 as Megan Gordon - one of three players on loan to Thompson's injury-weakened squad from the Snohomish-based Sidewinders program. But then they ran into McDonald and Lake Breeze and were 4-0 victims as McDonald tossed a five-hit shutout at them. They were eliminated in their next game, a 5-2 loss to Vancouver Magic.Haas finished the tournament with a team-best .313 average. Gordon and Sarah Losleben, also a loan player from the Sidewinders, subbed as the Golds' regular hurlers all nursed injuries.The Golds take a 38-16-2 record to California for the Western National tourney, while the Reds sport a 37-11 mark. "

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