SOFTBALL: Chaos Blue pass the test at Back to School Bash

Top row, from left, Emily Boykin, Juliana Santiago, Julia

HAYWARD – Following a third-place showing at the Casino Royale
Tournament two weeks ago, the Gilroy 10U Chaos Blue travel softball
team returned to the diamond over the weekend and once again found
themselves contending for a tournament title.
HAYWARD – Following a third-place showing at the Casino Royale Tournament two weeks ago, the Gilroy 10U Chaos Blue travel softball team returned to the diamond over the weekend and once again found themselves contending for a tournament title.

This time, the Chaos topped the rest of the competition and took first place at the Back to School Bash in Hayward.

Facing a team that had handed them a 14-1 loss earlier in the tournament, the Chaos Blue learned from the loss and pulled out a nail-biter in the final.

“All-American Sports Academy softball team is without a doubt the best team we have faced in any of our previous three tournaments,” Chaos Blue manager Kelly Vanni said. “We knew we had a chance only if we kept the game close.”

The Chaos managed to do just that, hanging on for a 5-4 triumph.

Emily Fredricks drove in Amber Herrera to tie the championship game at 1-1 after one inning of play. But All-American countered with a two-run second inning to regain the advantage 3-1.

Shelby Velasco ignited a three-run third inning for the Chaos with a base-line hugging single into left field.

Once again, though, the Sports Academy knotted things in the ensuing inning, sending the game into the fifth and final inning tied at 4-4.

As the tournament time limit drew near, the Chaos’ defense held the All-American girls without a run in the top of the fifth. Both Juliana Santiago and Olivia Moore made crucial plays in the infield to stifle scoring opportunities.

In the bottom of the fifth, Juliana Santiago led off the frame with a single, stealing second to put herself in scoring position.

Herrera moved Santiago to third on a well-placed sacrifice bunt. Santiago trotted home later in the inning, crossing home plate on a wild pitch to secure the championship.

“It was so enjoyable to see these girls succeed after all of their hard work,” Vanni said. “They are a beautiful group of young ladies, I’m glad to be a part of their lives.”

The Chaos’ road to the final began Saturday. After going 2-1 during the day’s pool play, getting victories over the Nor Cal Legends 8-6 and the California Impact 15-0, the Chaos entered Sunday’s single-elimination round as the No. 3-seed.

As fate had it, the Chaos Blue encountered another Gilroy team, the Chaos White, the tournament’s No. 2-seed after a spotless 3-0 pool play record, in Sunday’s first contest.

“Gilroy has a quality girl’s softball program, and it’s only a matter of time before we run up against each other,” Vanni said..

Solid defense and quality pitching resulted in a slow start for both offenses and a 0-0 tie into the second inning.

However, in the bottom of the second, a seemingly harmless leadoff walk to Emily Boykin translated to a four-run inning for the Chaos Blue.

The Blue went on to win the game 9-0 to advance to the championship game.

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