Merida, Yucatan – On the same day that baseball pioneer Justine Siegal learned that her sport had succeeded in its petition to be played at the Pan American Games, her “Baseball For All” team of 12-year-olds beat the host Yucatan Flower Power squad 11-1 in a game that was closer than the score indicated, to win the inaugural Mayan Princess Cup. BFA wound up undefeated with a perfect 6-0 record through the double knockout style tournament that included an earlier 8-5 victory over Flower Power, as well as a pair of wins against each of the Jalisco Blue Jays and Colegio Merida.
The USA-based team, made up of seven Americans and four Canadian girls, London’s Neela Chanderdat, Brantford’s Stephanie Ellis, Ottawa’s Tess Forman, and St. Marys’ Mia Valcke, scored four runs in the top of the first and that 4-0 score remained as is until the bottom of the fourth, as starting pitchers Jazzmine Rivera and Victoria Guzman demonstrated with an array of fastballs and change-ups to the crowd of 500 at Club Compestre Field how excellent baseball is progressing in the women’s ranks.
While rare to see a pair of Canadian hockey players batting one and two in any baseball line-up, Siegal slotted Ellis and Valcke there throughout the tournament. After the game’s leadoff hitter Ellis grounded out to shortstop Kelly Delgado, Valcke lined to right field and stole second. Kenna Young then sliced a double to right centre to score Valcke. After Allie Ridinger was hit by a pitch, Rivera, the tournament batting champion, grounded to right to double the lead. Tourney RBI-leader Lucy Grant then stroked a single to left centre, plating Ridinger, and led to the most exciting play of the tournament. With Rivera rounding third and attempting to score, Flower Power’s centre fielder Jessica Pech threw the ball into Delgado, who made a picture perfect relay throw to catcher Adriana Lopez, nailing Rivera in a dust cloud at home plate for the second out of the inning. Pia Desantis brought home Grant for the fourth and final run of the inning.
In a game that featured several outstanding defensive plays in the early going, such as BFA’s catcher Trinity Gonzalez gunning out Lopez at second with a frozen rope of a throw to Ridinger, Flower Power’s posted their lone run in the fourth when Delgado walked, stole second, and scored on Ana Laura Morejon’s single.
BFA broke the game open in the top of the final inning, when Forman and Ellis led off with back-to-back singles, Valcke ripped a two-run double down the right field line, Young’s opposite field-single scored Valcke, and Ridinger hit a long double to the left field warning track that sent Young home. It was Ridinger’s second double of the game. Following a walk to Rivera and a Grant base hit that plated Ridinger, Chanderdat and Peyton Schuldt, who celebrated her birthday with a gold medal, brought home the game’s final runs.
Rivera, who chalked up a pair of wins during the tournament, pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just a pair of hits while striking out four. Siegal, who managed her pitching staff brilliantly within the pitch count limitation rules, turned the ball over to Ridinger, Ellis, and Young to close it out, and her bullpen answered the call by allowing just one hit the rest of the way.
Siegal was proud of her troops, and paid high praise to the tournament organizers, the coaching staffs of the opposing teams, and the impressive development of female baseball in Mexico. Lizett Lopez was tireless in her efforts as tournament convenor, and she and her many wonderful volunteers displayed amazingly warm hospitality to all. Lopez’s husband, Oswaldo Morejon, a professional Mexican player, along with five other pros, coached the Flower Power team to outstanding heights.