Cast, 11, had a 17-0 record, three saves, 128 strikeouts, 13 walks and a 0.43 ERA in 64 innings. She also tossed three no hitters with six other no-hit games going when she was removed because of big leads. Clarissa Im was another key pitcher, going 3-0 with 41 strikeouts in 24 innings.
The Twins featured a strong offensive mixture of small ball-bunting, power hitting and aggressive base running to average 15 runs per game while only allowing a meager three runs per game. The Twins power surge was led by Julia Odom, who hit five home runs, three triples and scored 44 runs while batting for a .640 average. Cast belted two home runs, peppered in five triples, scored 46 runs and hit for a .620 average. Megan Felix hit one home run, two triples and seven doubles, crossing the plate 32 times and batting for a .447 average. Gloria Cervantes was responsible for nine extra-base hits and had a .553 average. Michaela Vanderklugt hit for a remarkable .750 average.
This was the Twins’ third straight year at the Little League District 4 Tournament of Champions, finishing runner up the previous two years.
The Twins came out slow after an 18-day break going into the tournament against the top teams of East County, Clayton Valley, Martinez¸ Pinole/¬Hercules¸ Pittsburg, and Continental.
The Twins beat the East County Golden Bears 3-0 riding the stellar pitching performance of Cast’s two-hitter, nine strikeouts and one walk in six innings. The Twins scored two runs in the bottom of the 1st on a two out rally started by Cast’s base hit to center followed by an infield single by Vanderklugt and a two-RBI triple by Felix.
Then the team tacked on another run in the second by Odom, who was hit by pitch and later scored on an error while stealing second base. The win advanced the Twins into the semifinals against Clayton Valley.
The Clayton Valley game was a nail-biter through four innings with Twins holding a 1-0 lead after leaving the bases loaded twice and eight runners stranded. When the Twins went to small ball and laid down eight bunts in last two innings that shook up Clayton Valley’s infield. The Twins kept scoring in the fourth when Megan Felix delivered a two-RBI triple to increase the lead to 4-0.
Clayton Valley came back with a run in fifth when Im walked two and threw a wild pitch to advance the runners, allowing Clayton Valley to score on fielder’s choice. The Twins then exploded in bottom of the fifth for seven runs on three consecutive bunts a fielder’s choice, a bloop single followed by back to back home runs by Felix and Presley Gutierrez to end game 11-1 due to the 10-run mercy rule. Cast got the win was removed after the Little League innings pitched restriction and Im combined for a no-hitter.
Riding the sizzling hot bats into the championship game against Pinole/Hercules, the Twins wasted no time jumping out to a lead in the bottom of the first. In that inning, a Pinole fielder cut down a Twins runner at the plate. The Twins scored three runs with two outs when Cast and Vanderklugt scored on pass balls followed by Felix who scored on single from Gutierrez.
The Twins then went to small ball in the second inning, tallying another run when Jenna Wallace reached while bunting and advanced to third on sacrifice bunt by Jackie Vickers then scored on triple by Odom to go up 4-0.
The Twins rode the strong arm of 20-game winner Cast, 3-0 record in the Tournament of Champions who turned in another all-star performance giving up two infield hits, with nine strikeouts in four innings, giving her 151 total in 76 innings for the season and 23 in the TOC. Cast only allowed one unearned run in the three game tournament.
The Twins weren’t going to be denied the championship this year, exploding for six more runs in the bottom of the third to increase their lead to 10-0, Vanderklugt scored on a four-base error by Pinole, followed by Gutierrez walk, an RBI single by Im. After a pitching change, the Twins laid down back to back bunt singles by Anna Odahlen and Tiara Arce followed by a home run by Odom.
Pinole scored an unearned run on two miscues by the Twins infield in the top of the fourth making the score 10-1, before Cast struck out the side to end the inning. Striking right back Felix led off the inning with an infield hit then was replaced by special courtesy runner Gloria Cervantes, who reached second on walk to Gutierrez and scored on Im’s game-ending single making score 11-1. The 10- run mercy rule was invoked for the fifteenth time this season, ending the perfect 23-0 undefeated season for the Twins.
Ten of twelve Twins players will represent Antioch on All-Star Teams in the 2011 California District 4 International Tournament.
-Contributed by Jeff Cast