Skip to comments.Champions shocked, thrilled, ready to return home today
Posted on 08/21/2005 10:47:25 AM PDT by BenLurkin
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - It was an ending straight out of "The Natural," except Sarah Kahn substituted for Roy Hobbs. Whoever wrote the script for Saturday's Big League Softball World Series championship game certainly included the happy ending for Antelope Valley District 51.
The West region champions walked away with the world title for the first time since 1996, in a 3-2 victory over Charleston, W. Va.
The win avenged Antelope Valley's only tournament loss, a 2-1 Charleston victory over in pool play on Wednesday.
Saturday's championship game, held at Vanderberg Park, had all the makings of a suspenseful contest that saw Antelope Valley go from frustration to elation to celebration in the course of seven innings.
"It hasn't hit me all the way yet," third baseman Brooke Stix said. "It was just such a shocking ending to the game. We wanted this one very bad."
"It was an amazing finish to the game," first baseman Kelsie Blankemeyer added. "We came here to win, yet when we won it the feeling was like 'what do we do now?' It was such a shock."
Kahn's big seventh-inning blast, which just cleared the left-field fence, broke a 2-2 tie and gave Antelope Valley the win.
"This is my fourth trip here," manager Scott Rutledge said. "We may not have been deep in pitching but we had a great team. When you've got 13 all-stars on one team the girls have to look around the room and realize some of the stud players might not start every game.
"I've coached for 25 years and I've had teams finish as city champions, I've had teams go 28-0. This is the pinnacle for me, this is something sweet."
Charleston manager Phil Abbott knew the home-run ball was gone the minute Kahn hit it.
"As soon as she hit it, I was like that's it," Abbott said. "But it was a classy bunch that won this tournament and it was a heck of a run for us. We had a good time here."
The feeling of being world champions still hasn't sunk in yet for the girls. It may not for a long time, even when they touch down in California and get a heroes' welcome from the Palmdale citizens. The team is expected to arrive into LAX shortly after Noon today.
It was a moment to remember for everyone.
"I'll probably cry again when I see this," Calvert said. "Right now I've just got goosebumps, it's such a crazy feeling. I could get hit in the head and not cry, but I win one of these and I start tearing up."
Catcher Rebecca Zapata will celebrate with the entire team for the time being, as Antelope Valley raised its second world-championship flag.
"It's an awesome feeling," Zapata said. "We realized that homer was gone the minute she hit it, and we were just so happy."
Antelope Valley Team.