|The Verde Valley Heat during a recent practice. VVN/Travis Guy|
After finishing their first two tournaments 4-4, the Verde Valley Heat 14-under team traveled to Gilbert, but was bested by all four teams they played, en route to a 0-4 record for the tournament.
"It kind of sucked. I mean we lost all four games, but I think we tried our hardest, but we lost," said Haley Young.
The Heat kept two games relatively close, only losing by 6-runs, but against Scorpio-Ayala, the girls were shut down in two innings, 14-0, and lost by ten to the AZ Cyclones, 13-3. Of the four teams they played, Scorpio-Ayala took third in the tournament and Wicked, the final team they played, and first in bracket play, claimed top honors at the tournament.
"We faced the team that won it and we played them tough, even though the score doesn't really depict it," said head coach John Brown. "It was a grand slam that threw it way out of range, but it was a tough tournament to say the least."
It was a tough tournament for he Heat, who could not find their footing until the last game of the weekend, first in bracket play, and were not able to overcome the temperatures.
"Its hot, the girls played a little bewildered, instead of focused, for whatever reasons, we just couldn't seem to get them dialed in, but they progressively got a little better. Of course, the last game I thought they played extremely well against a very good team, but we tend to do that a lot and we're trying to get out of that rhythm."
While braving the heat, Verde Valley was only able to muster 11 hits through the four games, with Krista Earl leading the way with two hits and Katie Grandy and Laria Serna each tallying two RBI's.
"A couple of girls hit the ball really well this weekend," Brown said. "Laria Serna hit the ball well, Krista hit the ball well, but when the whole team isn't hitting, the one or two highlights don't seem to get it done."
Despite the offense lacking over the weekend, Krista had a decent weekend on the mound. Krista pitched through all four games, 10 innings, and tallied; eight strikeouts and 32 total outs. Krista's defense was there to help her out at times, but other times they were not ale to bring it together, committing multiple turnovers. When the Heat squared off against PHX Heat, they kept their errors to six, the lowest amount for the tournament, but against AZ Cyclones, that number reached 10.
Also on defense, due to some girls not being able to make the tournament, other players were moved around to different positions. One of those girls moved was Haley Young, who normally plays first or second base, was moved to shortstop, and despite being new at the position, impressed Brown with her work ethic.
"There was a couple of girls that played some positions that they don't normally play, and due to sheer hustle and desire, they had extremely good tournaments. One of them was Haley Young; she did a great job for us at shortstop. She normally plays first base or second base for us, but we needed her there and she did a great job for us."
AS for Haley, she was just hoping to go out there and do her best at a new position to help out her team however she can.
"I was just thinking to try the best for my team to help them out and try to win the game," Haley said. "Afterwards I thought that I did pretty good and tried my best, I helped my them out."
Since the Heat have been back ion the practice field, Brown has been taking them through the steps of getting a better grasp on the game and focusing on their basics ahead of the next tournament.
"[We have been working on] realizing where they're lacking and the understanding of the game, and focusing on, maybe some more specific stuff than more than just your basics, that's what we're going to start working on this week," Brown said.
This weekend all of the Heat teams will be making the excursion up to Flagstaff where they will only have to worry about the teams, and not the heat, from July 13-14 at the Flagstaff Cool Pines Beat the Heat tournament.