Tampa Mustangs-Walford won the PGF 16U Platinum national championship, defeating Breakers-Labs/ Blue, 5-2, on Saturday at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.
The undefeated teams from the 16U Platinum brackets traded blows in the first inning, showing signs of a potential shootout. But after the first inning, Mustangs pitcher Kaitlyn Felton put up a string of zeros and her offense built her a lead to ride home to the title.
“Kaitlyn, she’s a workhorse,” Mustangs coach Paul Walford said. “She’s tough as nails. She’s had a solid week, a great performance not just today.”
About the only thing that threatened Felton in the later innings was a sharp one-bounce comebacker that she took off the cheek in the sixth inning.
“The first thing we noticed was a smile on her face,” Walford said about Felton when they checked for injury. “And she was fine, a little bit of blood. She spit it out and we kept on going.”
“I’m good,” Felton said. “It didn’t hurt.”
In their PGF Qualifier earlier this summer, the Mustangs, from Hudson, FL, just missed making this week’s Premier bracket, instead of landing in the Platinum field. With their Platinum championship this week, the Mustangs’ young 16U team will return next summer with a spot on the Premier side.
“We came in here with a positive attitude (this week),” Walford said. “I told the girls we’re good enough to go deep into the tournament and come all the way to the end if we really dug deep. One of the sayings we had this week was, ‘Don’t let anyone dent your armor.’ (Our opponents) tried to crack it, we just wouldn’t let them. It was a tough week.”
The Mustangs’ offense was balanced with seven of nine starters notching a hit. Katie Bright and catcher Giulia Desiderio were the only players with two hits and all five runs were driven in by different players.
In the first inning, Brooke Blankenship worked a walk and was driven home on a two-out hit from Maddie Droz for a 1-0 Mustangs’ lead.