Victoria Southwest, Victoria Northeast set for Little League showdown
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The pitcher wanted to finish what he started. His coach came to the mound in a tight spot to gauge his temperament, but the pitcher wanted to finish what he started.
A 12 year-old usually doesn't have the right to cajole his coach into continuing. But Cole Payne was throwing so well for the Victoria Southwest Little League that his head coach, Holly Long, left him in to finish what he started.
Southwest escaped jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to beat Victoria Northwest 5-3 Saturday night in the District 27 11-12 year-old All-Star tournament.
Payne pitched all six innings, fanning the final Northwest batter on a picturesque knee-high fastball over the outside corner.
"I got a little tired at the end, but I wanted to finish because it was a good game," Payne said with a huge grin on his face.
That it was. Northwest trailed 5-1 entering the final inning, but they loaded the bases. The tying run was at the plate when Payne clinched the Area I championship with a strikeout.
Robert Mejia, Lane Long, Caleb Urbano and Kyle Smejkal all scored in the second inning, giving Southwest a lead it would not relinquish.
"We have a lot of talent on our team and we know we can go all the way," Long said. "We support each other and play as one."
Southwest and Area II champions Victoria Northeast will play a three-game series to determine the District 27 champion. The first game is Sunday evening at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex.
Northeast eliminated Edna 13-2 Saturday night, behind stellar pitching from Alec Cruz and Kaleb Rael.
"(We have) pitching and our kids play hard together," said Northeast head coach Leslie Gonzales. "They clicked as soon as they came together. No one is selfish. We don't have one selfish kid on the team."
Rael hit two home runs - one inside the park the other outside. Zach Vela scored three times, while Hudson Oliver and Austin Farias were both 2 for 3 with two runs scored.
Northeast has outscored opponents 37-3 in three All-Star tournament games; however, Gonzales said Edna was a good team with a lot of fight in them.
Edna's Reese Orsak and Ronaldo Saenz hit consecutive RBI singles in the third inning in a losing effort.
Industrial strikes early and often
Industrial clinched its first Little League softball district championship for the second time in three years with a 15-2 win over Edna Saturday night.
The 11-12 year-old All-Stars from Industrial took control of the contest with a nine-run first inning. Leadoff hitter Chasity Richmond and Lexey Mikulec both scored three runs. Third baseman Breeana Young scored twice in a contest that was stopped because of the mercy rule.
As the girls walked out the dugout members of Industrial's 11-12 year-old baseball All-Stars formed a guard of honor to congratulate their classmates.
"They know one another. Our infield knows our outfield, so if one can't get to it they communicate with their teammates," said Industrial head coach Lynda Mikulec. "Their hitting has come a long way. During the league their hitting wasn't a strong but (assistant coach) Jason (Richmond) has worked with them."
In 2010 Industrial and Ganado combined their 11-12 year old All-Stars into one team. This year all 11 girls were from Industrial. If the Industrial bats were not intimidating enough, Mikulec said nine of her girls are just 11 years old, meaning they might be a youthful team on the rise.