USA Southwest takes World Series Championship

In five games of competition in the 2007 Senior League Softball World Series in Roxana, Del., USA Central (South Bend, Ind.) had given up only two runs. Through three innings of the championship game against USA Southwest (San Antonio, Texas), it appeared as though the Indiana team was on course to continue that trend of stinginess on the mound, but USA Central ultimately faltered in an 8-0 loss.

USA Southwest scored three runs on RBI doubles by Jackie Gonzalez and Amanda Delgado to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Up to that point, USA Central starting pitcher Sam DeFord had given up only one hit in three innings but, having already gone through the batting order once, continued play gave USA Southwest a chance to make adjustments.

“The thing is once they see a pitcher, the second time they make adjustments and are much more effective,” USA Southwest Manager Joe Leal said.

In the fifth inning, USA Central Manager Andy Bozman replaced DeFord with Olivia Findley, as he had done throughout the World Series tournament, in hopes of stemming USA Southwest’s hitting but was to no avail.

USA Southwest recorded three singles and scored three more runs, two on an error by second baseman Ashlee Smith and another on a sacrifice fly by Amanda Hinojosa, to take a 6-0 lead.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Bozman said. “Everything was going along fine through three innings, but then they started to hit the ball and we weren’t able to put anything together offensively. Not to take anything away from their hitters. They have a great group of girls and they deserve it,” he added of USA Southwest’s championship.

In the top of the sixth, there was a collective gasp for air after a violent collision between USA Southwest player Ashley Marquez and Central’s Smith at first base.

Marquez was trying to move Blanca Idar to second after reaching base on leadoff single. USA Central first baseman Santana Bozman charged the ball and threw a dart to Smith, who was covering the bag. But the throw put Smith right in the baseline and in harm’s way. To her credit, Smith held on to the ball, but she took the brunt of the collision and was taken off the field on a stretcher. She was treated for bruised ribs at an area hospital and released.

“The girls were saying, ‘Let’s win this for Ashlee,’ but, emotionally, it’s hard to get back on top after seeing your player go out on a stretcher,” Bozman said.

USA Southwest scored two more runs following Smith’s departure one out into the sixth inning. Idar, who reached third on the Marquez sacrifice bunt, scored on a RBI bunt single by Marie Rioux, and Casey Santos added the eighth and final run of the game on a RBI single up the middle.

Losing pitcher DeFord (1-1) and Findley allowed 10 hits, walked two and struck out six. USA Central’s Idar earned her fourth win in a complete game effort while striking out six, giving up four hits (all singles) and walking only one.

And after finishing in third place last year, USA Southwest is finally satisfied now that they’re the Senior League Softball World Champions.

“That’s all they [USA Southwest players] talked about, was getting back here and winning the championship,” Leal admitted. “And for the ones who weren’t with us last year, they understood how important this was.”

The Senior League Softball World Series championship game can be seen in its entirety when it is broadcast on sports network ESPN2, on Aug. 27 at 2 p.m.