SYCAMORE – With the rain messing with Storm Dayz for the second straight year after the travel softball tournament’s return to Sycamore, the Kishwaukee Valley Storm 18-and-under team played three one-run games Sunday on the event’s final day.
After losing for the first time in the tourney, 5-4, to CTW Max, they won in walk-off fashion, 14-13, against Downers Grove Outlaws. The Storm ended the day with a 5-4 loss to Texas Glory Illinois Blue out of Oswego, 5-4 in the championship game of the A-bracket consolation.
“We had come back and won games on the last out five or six times already,” Storm 18U coach Steve Hiede said Sunday. “We did it in the second game today. There’s not a girl in that lineup I’m not afraid to have at that plate in that situation. It’s a good feeling on my part.”
The Storm had two other teams playing in the 72-team tournament, with the 12U team beating the Wasco Diamonds 11U team, 6-5, in the championship of the B-bracket consolation. The Storm 16U team lost its first A-bracket consolation game, 6-5.
The Sycamore Sycos also had multiple teams at the tournament. The 10U Black team beat the Gold team, 16-3, in the first consolation bracket game before falling, 3-2, to Gallano Trucking and Farm Hurricanes, 3-2, in the final.
The 12U Sycos wrapped up their tournament with a 9-5 semifinal loss to Midwest Aftershock, while the 14U Sycos lost, 8-2, in a semifinal to KAOS Fastpitch Black. The 16U Sycos lost the B-bracket consolation championship to KR Fastpitch, 6-2, and the 18U Sycos lost the B-bracket consolation final, 12-11, to CTW.
For the Storm 18U team, it led 3-1 after two innings when Chelsea Born, a Sycamore graduate attending Waubonsee Community College in the fall, singled home two runs.
But the Glory finally broke through off Morgan Smardo, who had been allowing base runners all game. The Storm turned double plays to end the first and second innings, but the Glory scored four in the third and chased Smardo, who allowed five walks in the game.
“We were right there,” Hiede said. “A couple too many walks I think there in the beginning, but we got out of it with a couple double plays. Our defense has been pretty solid, although there were a couple of miscues.”
The Storm got runners to second and third with one out in the bottom of the fourth, which, because of a time limit, was the last inning. Born drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, but Delaney Douglas, who reached on a double, was left at third.
“Well, we definitely had some ups and downs, but we kind of got it together a little better more than we have,” Born said. “In all, I know it wasn’t our best, but that’s OK because next week we’re going to be in Kentucky, and I think we learned a lot this tournament.”
The 22-year-old tournament is infamous for living up to its name with frequent rainouts. After the 2020 tournament was held in Wisconsin for the first time instead of Sycamore because of COVID-19 mitigations, the tournament returned to Sycamore last year. Both tournaments were altered significantly because of rain.
“We had to cut some games. I hate doing that,” Hiede said. “But when you’ve got 72 teams there for games, you can only do it so many times. We played 72 games on Friday, we played 30 [Saturday] and we’re playing upwards of 80-something today. Quite a few.”
Born said she was glad to get another opportunity to play at home.
“It was fun, I always like Storm Dayz,” Born said. “It’s our organization, our home fields, where we practice. We’re like family, and this is where we’re based from. Saturday was kind of a bummer, but we were all still pumped for [Sunday.]”