When Tara Crimmins started coaching the Acers select girls softball team in the fall, she had one girl who had played at that level. Most of the 9- and 10-year-olds were learning to catch and throw the ball.
Crimmins, a 1999 White River High graduate who was the Hornets’ starting pitcher for four straight years, didn’t bat an eye. As a former leader with the White River Community Activities Program and Glacier Middle School coach, the first-year manager put the girls in the parks and recreation league and let them battle with older teams.
In June all the extra work paid off. The Acers won the National Softball Association’s U10 state championship.
The Auburn-based team, made up mostly of athletes from Buckley and Lake Tapps, won four-straight games in the Tri-Cities June 24-26 for the trophy.
“I am so proud of the team,” Crimmins said. “It was a major team effort that won the championship, every girl had a part in it.”
The road to the crown, started Friday with the Acers taking the field to hand out a 24-1, three-inning drubbing.
“My girls were just crushing the ball,” Crimmins said.
Morgan Vollandt led the Acers on the mound and also behind the plate. Brooke Nelson and Melissa Mateus also hit well.
The second game, against the Ellensburg Thunder, proved to be the Acers’ toughest.
Mateus would win the seven-inning pitching duel, but it would take a team effort for the Acers to earn the 3-2 victory.
Adriana Lomeli-Smith, Autumn Lee, Nelson and Vollandt, the heart of the Acers’ lineup, provided some big offense.
“Our first four batters definitely got us our three runs that game,” Crimmins said.
Lee finished the tournament with a .714 on-base average.
The game wasn’t without defensive heroics as well. With bases loaded, Kiana Harris snagged a ball in the field for a crucial third out.
Game 3 was a 6-3 victory over the Woodinville Reign Sunday morning. Leanne Bryant and Vollandt pitched.
The Reign would rally back to face the Acers in the title game. The Acers, backed by Lomeli-Smith’s grand slam and triple, would win 11-1. Mateus would earn the win on the mound, while Jessie Dubinsky supplied an offensive boost with a double.
“It’s really rare that she won it with 9 year olds,” said Pat Smith, who has been a part of the Acers’ organization for a number of years. “It was her first team within the organization and she took it all the way.
“As an organization, we’re really proud of her.”
“It’s a fantastic first year,” said Crimmins, who expects to lose four older team members who will move up next season, but have the majority of the girls return to the diamond.
The Acers qualified for the NSA Western World Series in July in Sacramento, but Crimmins said the team will not make the journey.