ALTON – Westco enjoyed the last laugher late Saturday night at Moore Park.
The Greater Alton area team walloped defending champion Ball Park Motors of Jacksonville, 13-2, to finish first in the Illinois Amateur Softball Association Class C Co-Ed finals at Moore Park.
The state co-ed championship was Westco’s second in four years. The team also won it as Revolution in 2012. Ball Park Motors then snared Illinois titles in 2013 and 2014.
“It’s right up there, next to it,” Westco manager Travis Cook said of comparing the pair of state crowns. “We did it with defense in 2012, but we did it with hitting this year. We’d win 20-10 instead of 6-2. It was a lot of fun.”
And Westco did it by prevailing in a running lopsided battle with Ball Park Motors. Westco scored a 23-3, five-inning victory early on, then lost 14-4, in five innings. The winner-take-all game also lasted just five innings, thanks in part to Westco’s eight-run first. The winners went 5-1 over the two-day tourney. Ball Park was 5-2.
“It went from one extreme to the other,” Ball Park catcher LeeAnn “Punky” Hittmeier said of three blowout games between the two teams.
Dan Lindley, Ball Park’s manager, added: “There was a lot of momentum in those games and they (Westco) got on a roll in the last game and were hard to stop. They are a really good team.”
Cook joined Derek Edwards, Haleigh Jenkins, MVP pitcher Jason Adair and MVP player Katie Wilson on the all-tournament team. Travis Steer of Ball Park was named the tourney’s MVP. He clouted 10 home runs in seven games, including three in one contest and two in another.
Yet nobody could outslug Westco in the closing game. Randy Cherry’s leadoff home run pointed the winners in the right direction and Amy Cook contributed a two-run double in that explosive first inning.
“There’s tons of talent on this team,” Cook said. “And for the most part, everybody worries about taking care of themselves and doing what they are supposed to do.”
Wilson said Westco knew what it had to do after suffering a 10-run defeat to Ball Park. They sought to switch the momentum their way.
“We didn’t want to get hit with a double dip-defeat like we did last year,” she said. “It was funny. We scored four runs in the first championship game against them tonight (Saturday) and then we come back and scored eight runs in the first inning of the second game.”
She added, “We forget about that first game and came out in the second championship game like it was a new game.”
Travis Cook pointed out, “We had a little conversation after the first-game loss to Ball Park and talked about relaxing. Everybody got rid of their nerves and we did that.”
By the third inning, Westco built a 12-1 advantage and never looked back.
“It’s nice to win a state tournament and this one is big. Everybody came through in the clutch,” Wilson said. “It’s always nice to be a state champion in anything.”
Edwards and Cherry celebrated their second state championship this summer. They also played for AMF, the Illinois ASA Class D men's winner in Decatur.
The co-ed state title enabled Westco to qualify for the upcoming Class C nationals in Rolla, Mo. Ball Park may be going, too. Construction Nation of Moline took third in the 17-team state finals and Fourth Street Lanes of Greenville placed fourth.
Cami Chrisman and Carly Beebe of Ball Park Motors, Mitch Carriger and Nicole Beecher of Fourth Street Lanes, plus Pete Oleman of Construction Nation, also were named to the all-tourney team.
In the weekend skills competition, the 4R’s Barbecue duo of Nick Schuette and Kristi DeWulf won the home-run hitting contest with 15 of them. John Sanchez and Gabby Cox of Cutting Edge snared first in the Road Runner racing by winning it in 21.13 seconds. Westco needed just 41.13 seconds to claim the Around the Horn throwing action.