When he was asked about how exciting his team’s win at the Little League West Regional softball championship game, Cedar National coach Aaron Wheelwright made reference to a Little League tournament director named Dave – he didn’t have the last name handy – and what he thought of the game.
“He told me it was one of the best games he’s seen at a regional – baseball or softball – in 27 years,” Wheelwright said.
The final score said it all and made a pretty loud statement for Cedar City in general July 28.
CN finished the game with seven hits, but six were between two players – Michaela Whitehair and Sidney Webster, including the most important ones. Whitehair doubled with one out in the bottom of the eighth, and after she moved to third on a Payton Lister groundout, Webster drove her home with a single that landed just a couple of feet inside the right-field line.
Webster’s hit set off a celebration that carried all the way back to town and the fire-engine victory parade the team was given when it returned home Saturday night.
For the first time, Cedar City has a West Regional tournament champion. For the second year in a row, it’s a Little League Softball team heading to Portland, Ore., for the tournament that starts Aug. 9.
It will extend into the first two days of school – Iron County begins a new year Aug. 15 – but it may only motivate these girls that much more. Even better, the karma that came from team members touching the Little League Softball championship banner before they ate at the dining hall on the stadium site while in San Bernardino only piled on the confidence.
For its reward, Cedar National will face Rowan, N.C. or Clarksville, Tenn., in an opening-round matchup at the World Series. After surviving a two-on, none-out threat from Mill Creek, Washington in the West final with the game still scoreless in the top of the sixth, these girls know anything is possible.
Scoreboard on World Series trips now: Softball has three (Snow Canyon juniors 2009, SC Little League 2016 and Cedar National), while baseball is still looking for the first historic trip.
As another school year gets set to start, there are several Big Sky schools with strong interest in Canyon View senior Brantzen Blackner. After his showing at an SUU camp in June, head coach Todd Simon put a scholarship offer on the table.
Sources have told me that Idaho State – led by former SUU coach Bill Evans – is interested, as well as Portland State, being led by new head coach Barret Peery, who was hired in April and served as an assistant under Evans at SUU. That’s one-quarter of the league, so it’s going to be interesting.
While we just achieved a classic redundancy in that last sentence, it’s on the coaches to make their programs look and sound like the best thing around.
At long last, Kyle Busch had his breakthrough in the Monster Energy Cup Series. After more than a full year – 37 races – without a win, Busch was his customary, stubbornly dominating self as he won the pole and rolled to Victory Lane in the Overton’s 400 on Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Even though a loose lug nut was discovered in post-race inspection, it’s doubtful Busch will have his win reduced to “encumbered” status like Joey Logano’s at Richmond. Busch is the 13th different driver with a race win and the automatic ticket to the playoffs that comes with it.
With only three spots left to fill and five races to go until the championship drive starts, it’s entirely possible all 16 will have race winners in them for the first time.
Watkins Glen happens this week, and the final road course is always a crap shoot. Logano won there in 2015 and A.J. Allmendinger pulled it off the year before.
After that, the other four tracks – Michigan, Bristol, Darlington and Richmond – are anyone’s guess. I’m not Nostradamus, and race fans are a picky sort more often than not.
If their driver doesn’t win, it’s time for endless dissection of what’s wrong with NASCAR.
I’ll pass on that bit of unnecessary pessimism, thank you very much.
Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @TommyZee81 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.