06-20-19 Tri-City Area Sports

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford 8U Softball captures Coloma All-Star Tournament title!

This past weekend, Hartford’s youth softball programs competed in the 2019 edition of the Coloma All-Star Softball Tournament. The Hartford Council for Recreation has been sending teams to this tournament for a number of years, and many of the players you’ve seen on the high school fields and beyond have crafted their skills at this tournament. Hartford has been successful in recent years, winning championships on several occasions, as recent as a year ago.

The 8U Division team, featuring players ages 6, 7, and 8 years old, played in a rather large field, a field that featured eight other teams. Other teams included Watervliet, North Lincoln, Bridgman, Buchanan, South Haven, Lakeshore, J-Shock (Jimtown IN), and host, Coloma. The tournament featured two pool games that seeded the field for bracket play, of which a tournament champion would be crowned.

In their two games of pool play, Hartford defeated North Lincoln, 14-4 and Bridgman, 11-4. By rule, which says that margin between runs scored and runs allowed would be the seeding criteria, Hartford was seeded third for bracket play, only behind one seed, Watervliet and the two seed, South Haven.

Their first game of bracket play, which was scheduled to be against J-Shock, was forfeited to Hartford, moving the team on to the semifinals. In the Sunday afternoon semifinal, the team held on for a 9-6 victory over South Haven. That set up the division final against fourth seeded Buchanan just a short time after their semifinal matchup. Many teams would be worn out playing back-to-back games, but this Hartford team was different. They came out hitting and playing great defense, and ended up winning 12-7 versus Buchanan to win the division championship!

The 10U Division team, which features players ages 9 and 10, was also in a large bracket, with the bracket also featuring nine total teams. Other teams at this level included North Lincoln, Bangor, Watervliet, South Haven, Eau Claire, Buchanan, Dowagiac and the host, Coloma. In pool play, Hartford played against Eau Claire and Buchanan, but fell short in both games, losing to Eau Claire, 4-0 and Buchanan, 13-2.

After pool play, Hartford was seeded seventh and would face the second seeded team in the division, which happened to be the host team from Coloma. Unfortunately, for Hartford, their tournament ended there, as the team suffered an 18-6 defeat.

The 12U Division team, which features players ages 11 and 12, played in a bracket that featured six other teams, which included Niles Brandywine, Watervliet, Dowagiac, Buchanan and Bridgman. Hartford was not represented.

The 14U Division team, which features players ages 13 and 14, played in a five team bracket that was loaded with a lot of talent from top-to-bottom. In pool play, Hartford faced off with Buchanan and South Haven, with the team winning both games on Friday. They defeated Buchanan by a score of 11-5 in game one and came back from 9-4 down to win 10-9 against South Haven in their second game.

After pool play, Hartford was seeded in the top spot in the bracket. They would go on to play their rivals from Watervliet on Sunday afternoon. In a hotly contested game from the get-go, neither team wanted to go down to the other. They played each other close, and the game went to extra innings after a fierce seventh inning that saw Watervliet take a late lead, and Hartford tied it right back up.

Via the tournament rules, the game would go to international rule, with the team’s last batter going to second with nobody out. In the first extra inning, Watervliet put two on the board to take a two-run lead, 11-9. Hartford, needing runs desperately in the bottom half, put the tying runs in scoring position, but failed to score, and fell out of the tournament two games short of victory.

The next tournament for these teams looks to be the Hartford All-Star Softball Invitational, which will take place from June 21 through June 26 at Indian Pride Park. This summer tradition is a long time success story, and another great tournament is looked forward to this year!

Hartford youth baseball teams compete hard in Paw Paw tournament

This past weekend, Hartford’s youth baseball programs were also busy, as three teams competed in the 2019 edition of the Paw Paw Youth Baseball Tournament. This tournament has some of the best competition in the area, and this year would be no exception. With teams as far away as Mendon in the field that featured nearly 30 teams across four divisions, the Indians needed to be at their best to be c