Brooklyn Weisgram and Makenna Liechty wasted no time making their impact felt in their first game back with the ZooTown All-Stars.
They were perfect at the plate and played error-free defense in ZooTown’s 14-3 victory over Arizona in a Senior League Softball West Regional quarterfinal on Monday. They had missed pool play while competing in different age groups at the National Softball Association Northwest World Series, a fast-pitch tournament in Wenatchee, Washington.
ZooTown, the No. 3 seed, blew open the game with a 10-run third inning. It advances to a semifinal against No. 2 Oregon at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Playfair Park’s Dale Clawson Complex.
“Finally the bats came alive,” ZooTown manager Dennis Staves said with a smile. “We had (Weisgram and Liechty) come back, which we really needed. Their spark had the dugout really fired up.”
Weisgram, who played center field and hit fifth, drove in three runs and scored three more as she went 3-for-3. Her two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth allowed ZooTown to beat Arizona by the 10-run rule. She singled home a run and scored after drawing a walk in the 10-run third inning.
Liechty, who played shortstop and hit second, legged out a bunt, singled home a run and scored twice in the third inning. She was 2-for-2 with a sac bunt and a walk.
“They bring a lot of strength, just coming in and playing hard,” said pitcher Amber Hickethier, who gave up three runs and struck out eight in a complete-game win. “They played their best, they showed up and they didn’t make any errors. It makes everything stronger.”
ZooTown sent 15 batters to the plate in the 10-run third inning. Hickethier had a two-run single and Jalen Cooper singled home a run before starter Breyana Garcia was pulled with no outs and ZooTown up 4-0.
Against reliever Marina Gomez, Kayla Hickethier had an RBI single, Weisgram scored on an error and Taylor Leistiko drove in two on a triple. The second time through the order that inning, Liechty, Amber Hickethier and Weisgram each singled home a run.
“We hit really good when we get the bats going,” Liechty said. “There’s a lot of talent on this team. We just have to have timely hits.”
ZooTown will have Weisgram and Liechty back for its rematch against Oregon after losing 2-1 in eight innings during pool play. Should ZooTown win that game, the championship game to advance to the Senior League Softball World Series is 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“This is a fun group of girls with a lot of energy,” Weisgram said. “If we continue to hit like we did today, I think we’re going to be OK.”
The Montana All-Stars out of Billings, the No. 5 seed, will face No. 1 Southern California in a semifinal at 2 p.m. Tuesday. They advanced by beating Hawaii, 4-2, in a Monday quarterfinal.
After losing 7-6 to Hawaii in pool play Sunday, Montana played error-free softball to hold Hawaii to two runs on seven hits.
Montana jumped up 3-0 in the first inning on Kara Conway’s RBI double and Sydney Nelson’s two-run double. Kaylee Kannegiesser added an RBI double in the fifth inning to make it 4-2.
“I think it was bigger that we held them defensively,” Montana coach Dobie Beck said. “I think our girls know our hitting. We’ve been hitting the ball all weekend. They know their hitting. I wasn’t too worried about us scoring runs, but it was nice to get a head start, and it ended up being big because we didn’t score a lot after that.
“We had been talking all week about our defense, and up until today they hadn’t really shown up. It was nice to see it show up.”
In pool play, Montana lost to Southern California, 12-8. An eight-run second inning put Southern California up 11-4.