EMERSON, Ga. – Heading into Monday’s game against Pro Source 17u, the Scorpions Panhandle-2015 had not dropped a single game at the WWBA 17u National Championship Qualifier. In their first three games, they used some great pitching to steer the team to a 3-0 record. Monday’s matchup would test the squad from Tallahassee, Florida and make them have to rely on their offense to get the job done.
With the game tied 4-4 in the fifth inning, the Scorpions Panhandle used an RBI triple from Bailey Metcalf to take a 5-4 lead. This came after they tied the score in the fourth inning after being down 4-3. Metcalf’s RBI triple proved to be the game winner, and the Scorpions improved to 4-0.
“My approach going into that at-bat was ‘I know he’s fixing to come at me because he has no choice really with the game on the line,’” Metcalf said about his approach heading into his at-bat in the fifth. “I was looking for that fastball over the middle of the plate, and he threw it there, and I just took advantage of it.”
Metcalf has provided the offensive power all week for the team. In four games, he is 7-12 (.583 AVG) and has three RBI, none bigger than his game-winning RBI against Pro Source 17u. He has feasted off pitching all week by simply being aggressive and making sure he determines the outcome of the at-bat instead of the pitcher determining it. All week Metcalf has tried to keep it simple by “swinging at first-pitch strikes, if they throw it there.” He has received the outcome he wants most of the time by hitting the pitch he is looking for instead of swinging at anything the pitcher throws.
Head coach David Elsbernd was in great spirits after watching his team pull out a hard fought win. Although it was not the prettiest win, the team did a lot of the small things right, which helped them. Like Metcalf, the team’s mental approach at the plate throughout the day was key for them in a game like this one.
“Today’s performance we wanted to come out swinging the bats fairy well, and we did,” explained Elsbernd. “We kind of got a little bit down, but I was proud of the boys. We tied it up. [We] came back. The boys didn’t give up.”
“They were really smart at the plate. They were laying off the off-speed stuff in the dirt and making quality swings.”
A 4-0 record to start a tournament is impressive enough, but for this team it seems to be an even greater feat considering the players just started playing together recently. Somehow they have been able to put everything together all at once despite the short time they have shared together. Coach Elsbernd raved about the quality of play his guys have shown.
“Our pitching has been great,” said Elsbernd. “Our hitting has been really good. It’s just making the plays. You make the outs they give you. If you can do that, with good pitching and your hitting comes around, we’ll be in good shape.”
Although they have set themselves up nicely in the tournament, their work is not done yet. With this tournament being set up in a way where only the top team from each pool advances, team’s have to be on their game every single day. With another undefeated team in their pool that they have yet to play, the last thing the Scorpions are doing is looking ahead to bracket play.
“We have another team in our pool that’s doing fairly well and we got them tomorrow night at 9:45 pm. So, that’s going to be a really good game. Going 4-0 right now, we’re in a good position, but the boys definitely want to go 5-0 and move on.”
If the team can maintain their winning streak and advance through to bracket play, they have a chance to punch their ticket to the WWBA 17u National Championship. Not only that, but a tournament title in this qualifier would bode extremely well for a team who just started playing together. It would definitely set them up for great possibilities for the rest of the summer.
“It would be huge,” Elsbernd said about winning this tournament. “Perfect Game is the best competition around hands down. That’s why we come. If we happen to be fortunate enough to win this thing, the kid’s confidence will be high. The organization will be very happy.”
With one more hurdle to climb in pool play, the Scorpions Panhandle-2015 is focused on the task at hand. In a winner-take-all game tomorrow night to decide who wins the pool, it is a safe bet to expect this team to come out with their best.