Bulletin Staff Report
The Reckless softball team has returned home with team and individual national championship trophies following a 7-1 run through the ASA 14U Class B Southern Nationals Aug. 1-5 in Gadsden, Ala.
Reckless softball — comprised of Kate Atchley, Madison Berry, Morgan Birrell, Daniela Castillo, Amanda Gober, Julia Loudermilk, Rynn Norris, Kish Suniga, Shandi Winstead and Carissa Zarate — strung together six consecutive victories before needing a second championship game to claim the title.
“Winning the championship took a little bit of time to sink in, but when it did, wow!,” said Joan Atchley, who along with Charles Atchley, Joe Zarate and Cody Norris, served as team coaches. “This was a tough tournament with a lot of intensity. I think we’ll be on cloud nine for quite some time. We were very proud to represent our town, county and state at the national level. This area is becoming well known for softball through ASA, TTAS, high school and college.”
Highlighting the Reckless offensive onslaught — which resulted in 39 runs in eight games — were Zarate, who had a team-high .600 batting average, five RBIs, a triple and two doubles; Birrell, who posted a .577 average with a home run, five RBIs and three ground-rule doubles; Atchley, who drove in six runs, batted .480 and notched a double and a triple; Loudermilk, who also knocked in six runs and batted .448; and Amanda Gober, who finished with a .444 average and four RBIs.
Other top offensive performances were turned in by Winstead (.375, two RBIs), Suniga (.350, three RBIs, triple), Castillo (.333, two RBIs), Berry (.298, team-high eight RBIs, two doubles) and Norris (.390 on-base percentage, three sacrifices, three walks, RBI).
In Reckless’ 10-0 championship victory over the T-Birds of Lilburn, Ga., Atchley went the distance in the circle and recorded four strikeouts, allowed three hits and walked one.
Every member of the Reckless roster got a hit with two each coming from Birrell and Winstead. Winstead and Gober drove in two runs each, while Birrell and Loudermilk also had RBIs.
The victory avenged a 3-2 loss in the first championship game, where a scoreless tie was broken by Lilburn in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to two Reckless errors.
Reckless took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh as Zarate tripled home Atchley, who singled, then Loudermilk drove in Zarate.
But the T-Birds answered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, scoring on a walk, a single and a two-out error.
Bracket play began for Reckless with a 6-0 victory over the Bobcats from Theodore, Ala.
Atchley worked the first four innings, striking out four, while Castillo pitched the final three and recorded two strikeouts.
Zarate was 3-for-4 with an RBI, Birrell and Winstead added two hits each and Atchley doubled home a pair of runs.
Reckless then knocked off the Cen-Tex Explosion from Rogers by an identical 6-0 score.
Atchley surrendered one hit in six innings and struck out six, while Castillo worked the last inning and gave up a hit and a walk.
At the plate, Berry, Zarate, Gober and Loudermilk tallied a pair of hits and one RBI apiece. Atchley also chalked up two hits.
Reckless and Lilburn crossed paths for the first time when the two teams were the final undefeated squads left in the tournament. Reckless earned a 9-4 victory in that contest.
Atchley fanned six in four innings, while Castillo struck out one in relief.
Birrell went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two doubles to spark the offense, while Suniga was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Zarate also finished 2-for-4.
Reckless softball — which is based out of Blanket and has players from the high school programs at Brownwood, Early, Goldthwaite, Comanche and Coleman on the roster — would like to thank its sponsors, Farm Bureau Insurance and Atch-Tex Dairy.
“This team — players, coaches and parents — has such a great attitude,” Atchley said. “We’re like one big, happy family. We had a great time off the field with cookouts in the motel parking lots, sightseeing, visiting old ball parks and making new friends.
“Even the traveling was fun. We took an old school bus all the way to Alabama and that was an experience in itself. Not everyone rode the bus down there and back, but it was a good way to get the girls and all our gear to the ball park.”