By Kerry Pogue
Contributor

It was perfect weather for the end-of-season tournament for the Metro Nashville Softball Association held Sept. 28 at Cedar Hill Park.

D Division Tournament

The day started with the 8 D teams battling it out for the top prize.  We had the Panthers vs. Players with the Players winning. The Sizzle showed up Saturday morning with their “A” game.  The Sizzle and Fusion game started out really close.  The Sizzle started the day by playing the best game all season and leading the Fusion for the first 4 innings.  

Only after a grand slam hit by the Fusion that drove in bases loaded, did Fusion pull ahead and stay ahead.  The Sizzle defense remained fantastic through the rest of the game but in the end it wasn't enough.  The Fusion offense was just too much for the Sizzle defense, pulling out an 11-4 win.  Blaze and Phantasy went head to head with Blaze winning.  The 4th game, Holy Trinity v. Swingers was the hot game of the opening round 4th vs. 5th and it lived up to the billing.  The crowd was getting louder so you knew it was a good game. 

It was great head to head battle in the first three innings with the teams matching each other run for run.  Then Holy Trinity broke out and started scoring while their great defense kept shutting down the Swingers.  They strongly utilized the short fielder and were throwing runners out at second base.  

Holy Trinity was up 6 – 2 going into the bottom of the 7th inning.  The Swingers didn’t give up and they were able to score 3 runs, to get the score to 6 to 5 with runners on 1st and 2nd.  That strong defense of Holy Trinity was just too strong and they were able to shut down the last surge by the Swingers.  The final score was 6 - 5 Holy Trinity.  Both teams have tremendous respect for each other.  Swingers may have won in the regular season, however, Holy Trinity brought their A game and pulled one out for the tournament.
 
Round two of the D division had the 4 winners from the first round playing.  Nashville Players vs. Holy Trinity was a fun game but not close as Holy Trinity came off that emotional last inning win over the Swingers.  After those games it is so difficult to get the team fired up again immediately.  Holy Trinity was the home team and the Players started off the game in the top of the first inning hitting the ball like professionals, scoring 10+ runs in the top of the first.  This was a high hurdle for Holy Trinity to overcome.  HT was not making errors the Players were just hitting the ball.  The Players just out hit Holy Trinity for an easy win. 

The other semi final game was between Blaze and Fusion.  The Inferno Blaze came out to the MNSA season ending tournament with their game faces on. They knew the challenges that would lie ahead in game 6 against the Fusion, and fought it out to the end. With each team gaining the lead every other inning, The Nashville Fusion just couldn’t find enough bat to pull out a W in this game. Blaze broke through the strong Fusion defense with some base hits that gave them a 6-4 victory.  Both teams played great defense, but the Blaze were hitting stronger than normal.  The Blaze team was totally focused and pulled off the upset defeating the Fusion. 

The number 3 seed had beaten the number 2 seed – what a great game!  This set up a winner’s bracket finals game of Players v. Blaze.  The Blaze hitting is very much improved and this was, by far, the best I have seen them hitting against a strong D defense.  They were on a mission to defeat the undefeated Players.  The Players are a very strong D team but the Blaze didn’t care. They realize the Players can be beaten and wanted to be the first but they just didn’t have what it takes to topple the Players.  That left the Players the only undefeated team in the tournament. 

The loser’s bracket was playing out and having some really great games with the Panthers stunning the #4 seeded Swingers.  The Swingers just didn’t hit as well as the Panthers.  But it was a great game with the Swingers once again putting on a last inning surge but falling short of the win.  Fusion’s loss to Blaze dropped the Fusion into the loser’s bracket, where their stamina was put to the test. The Fusion faced a fired-up Panther team who just sent the Swingers home for the day. .  The Fusion and Panthers game started out with each team scoring.  In the fourth inning the bats started coming alive with Fusion dominating the Panthers and winning, 6-1.   In the end Fusion pulled out the victory over the very much improved Panthers, who finished the tournament tied for seventh.

Phantasy’s first game in the loser’s bracket was against Sizzle.  With a great attitude and high spirits from their game against the Fusion, Sizzle took the field to play Phantasy.  This was an intense game with a real nail biter of an ending.   Phantasy started pulling ahead with great hits from Dustin and Fernando. 

Jim kept his hitting streak going and Joe started ripping the ball deep into left.  This team has the sticks to dominate if they ever get the team settled in and playing as a team.  Phantasy got a lead, but in last inning Sizzle almost came back from a 4 run deficit. Their last inning surge was stopped short resulting in a one run loss for Sizzle and a tournament finish tied for seventh place.  Phantasy celebrated their win which next paired them against Holy Trinity.  Again this was another great game, a one run game. 

The Holy Trinity and Phantasy game again started off very close.  These are two good teams with Holy Trinity having the better defense and Phantasy having the better sticks so it was looking pretty even between the two teams to start off but in the end Holy Trinity pulled out the W to advance to the Top 4.  Phantasy tied for 5th in the tournament. 

This set up the fourth place deciding game between Fusion and Holy Trinity. The Fusion would be put to the test by the amazing defense of Holy Trinity.  The Holy Trinity team kept Fusion at 0-0 for most of the game but finally Fusion broke through with 8 unanswered runs.  Clearly Fusion was fighting their way back up starting with an 8-0 win over Holy Trinity.  Holy Trinity finished fourth in the tournament

This set the final game of the loser’s bracket pitting the hot Fusion team against the Blaze.  Both teams were ready for the fight after Blaze sent Fusion to the loser’s bracket earlier in the day.  Blaze fought hard against the Nashville Fusion for the second time that day; except this time, Blaze found it more difficult to break through their superior defense, while the Fusion cracked away with their base hits each inning.

Fusion came out victorious with a 5-4 win over Blaze. Even with some unexpected last minute substitutions, Blaze was strong in this game but the hot bats of the Fusion were more than they could handle.  The Fusion won the game putting them in the finals.  Blaze took third place in the MNSA season ending tournament after four exciting, fun and challenging games against Phantasy, twice against the Nashville Fusion, and once against the Nashville Players.  The team is already putting their heads together to prepare for the MNSA fall league set to start in September in West Park.

After clawing their way up through the loser’s bracket, Fusion was ready for their chance to pick off one of the top “D” teams in the country, the Nashville Players. The game was as exciting and nail biting as any this season. The Players and Fusion had to battle it out for 7 straight innings. The Fusion led the entire game until the final inning.

The Fusion started out very strong while the Players started out flat.  The Players were swinging at anything that was thrown at them.  In the third inning the coach of the Players started making major position changes, moving 5 players on the field.  The purpose was to get the Players to start talking to one another and to regain their focus. 

It worked but was it too late?  The Players started shutting down the Fusion bats but now it was the bottom of the fifth and the score was 11-2 Fusion.  Rudy gets up and burns the right fielder to get his first ever home run.  This rallied the team and got the Players going.  The bottom of the 6th ended with a score of 11-8 still the Fusion.  The top of the 7th ended with the Players getting a double play which sent them to the dugout fired up. 

The Players loaded the bases and with no outs Daniel came in to pinch hit.  Daniel hit the left field line scoring two runs making the score 11-10, Fusion.  The Players never led the entire game.  Next up was lead off batter Rudy.  Rudy got a base hit that scored one knotting up the game at 11.  Alex was up to bat with the winning run on second base.  Alex hit a shot into left field scoring Ashley from second base for the win. 

The Players toughness and experience paid off allowing them to come back and defeat the Fusion 12-11.  This was no doubt the game of the year and what a better way to end a great season than with a come from behind win.  The Fusion placed 2nd in the tournament and the Nashville Players were the “D” division tournament champions

C Division Tournament

The C division tournament started out with a a great game between the third seeded Piranhas and the fifth seeded Inferno.   The inferno was hot and ready to play.  The Inferno has never beaten the Piranhas this season in regular season play but this tournament could change that.  The Inferno came out ready and it showed.  They dominated the game and improved to the semi-final round against the number one seed Time. 

The Time is one of the strongest C teams in the country when they are on.  But can be beat by most C teams when they are not on.  Well the Time was on a mission for that First Place finish in the tournament.  But the inferno flame was burning bright and they played a close game for the first few innings.  But just could not keep focused and hold up for the win.  The Time put out the flame and won over the inferno to advance to the final game.

Fury didn’t have enough players so they forfeited to the Clippers.  That put the clippers all the way through to the Finals of the winner’s bracket.  The Time’s defense was on.  It is hard to score against this defense when they are on.  Again the Clippers started strong but just could not hold solid and the Time took over for the win. 

The Piranhas and inferno ended up playing again due to the second forfeit of the Fury.  Therefore, it was round two of Inferno v. Piranhas.  What started out as a friendly game of softball ended in a fish fry.  The heat of the inferno was too much for the Piranhas.  The Inferno send the Piranhas home with a 4th place finish.

Now for another match up of the tie in regular season play between the Inferno and Elan Clippers, these two teams were at it again for the championship of the loser’s bracket.  The loser of this game gets third and the winner will advance to the final game.  This game was a battle that everyone expected, bouncing back and forth with the lead.  But the Clipper pulled it out for their chance for the title. 

In the championship game the time was rested up,  and it showed Carlos V. for the TIME was hot throughout the tournament batting an incredible .833. The defense for the TIME was also fine all day. The Time held their opponents to 15 runs for the entire tournament while the offense came alive scoring 53 runs. TIME showed they are ready to head south for the Beat The Heat tournament in Dallas, TX over the 4th of July weekend

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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