The Novato Heat 12-and-under softball team moved from the “B” to the highly competitive “A” level this summer. If there were any doubts the girls belonged, they were doused last weekend in the annual Nicole Mattson Memorial Scholarship Tournament In Rohnert Park.
The Heat shut out three consecutive opponents in pool play Saturday and then allowed only one run in three games Sunday, easily sweeping to the tournament championship behind the pitching of Carly Slack and Ashley Bottomley.
“They were ready. They had a great foundation from previous coaches,” coach Charlie Slack said of the promotion from B to A. “There’s been some real good competition, as we expected, and so far they have met it pretty well.”
The competition at the Mattson Memorial event came from the Humbolt Fogg, NorCal Smackers and California Impact in pool plan, then the Smackers, Team Xtreme and Marin Blue Angels in single-elimination play. The Heat scored a total of 39 runs in the six games.
The 7-0 championship-game win over the Blue Angels was much closer than the score would indicate. A triple play in the middle of the game – center fielder Nicole Marino snared a line drive, threw to second base for a second out and the ball went to first base for the third out – got the Heat out of a jam that threatened an early lead.
“If the ball goes by her, they’re going to get a couple of runs and probably change the game,” Coach Slack admitted. “It was a big momentum shift.”
The Heat also turned a triple play on Saturday, the sequence beginning the same way – with a flyball to Marino in center field.
Marino also was one of the Heat’s offensive stars over the weekend, leading off the Novato attack. Jaleesa Lewis was the big hitter in the championship game with a pair of clutch hits.
Sam Tong’s home run was one of the tournament highlights. Alana Locke, Dixie Thompson and Olivia Dallara also hit well for the Heat.
Slack and Bottomley split time on the mound, with Slack pitching the title game. They were supported all weekend long by a nearly flawless defense.
“The competition was good. We played very solid,” Coach Slack noted. “Only a couple of errors in six games and very few mental errors. Very solid.”
The tournament was the fourth of the summer for the Novato team, which finished third in an "A" tournament for 14-year-olds in Fairfield earlier in June. The Heat made the semifinals there, losing by a respectable 5-0 score to the powerful Sorcerers 14s team from the East Bay that weekend.
Asked if his team had a goal in remaining tournaments this summer, Coach Slack boasted, “I’d like to beat the Sorcerors 12s team if we see them.”