Post-Tribune - CROWN POINT - Teams packed with local players took the field in the opening night of play in the 18-and-under division of the NSA World Series.
Fourteen teams were divided into four pools, which were all played out on Tuesday night. The battle for the top seed from the four-team Pool A came down to a pair of teams primarily boasting Lake County athletes: the Indiana Ice and the Indiana Silverhawks. The Ice scored eight runs in the game's first two innings, leading them to an 8-6 victory and Pool A's top seed.
In Pool B, the Triple Crown Diamond Queens, from Schererville, dropped both of their contests. In the opener, they fell 2-0 to the Downers Grove (Ill.) Outlaws despite what Diamond Queens manager Mark Kaminski called, "a gutty performance" from starting pitcher Jade Acevedo.
"We had our opportunities and the girls battled, but we just couldn't get that run across," Kaminski said.
The Diamond Queens' night ended with another loss - this time by an 8-1 against the Tinley Park (Ill.) Rockers.
The Indiana Raiders, a Pool B team boasting a roster full of Duneland Athletic Conference athletes, won their first game 2-1 against the Rockers on a squeeze bunt by Rachel Smock.
Raiders manager Larry Smock also spoke highly of starting pitcher Brittany Ard, who struck out nine batters in a complete-game shutout. At press time, the Raiders were on the verge of clinching the top spot in Pool B as they held an 8-3 lead over the Outlaws heading into the final inning.
Despite being a 16-and-under team, the Indiana Rebels, who play out of Hammond, were again competing in a higher division after winning the 18-and-under NSA state tournament a month earlier. Their first game of the night, in Pool C, was an 11-3 loss to the Morris (Ill.) Rowdie Katz.
Pool D was dominated by the Indiana Dew, comprised of players from Porter and Jasper County. They defeated the East Peoria (Ill.) Express 9-7 in their first game of the night, then defeated the Porter County-centered NWI Zoom 14-2. The biggest hit of the Dew's day came from LaPorte's Meghan Bunch, who launched a solo home run to right during their second game of the night.
"When we hit, I don't know if there's a team that can hang with us," said Dew manager Craig Doelling. "But we don't always hit like that."
Final results from the second games for both the Rebels and the Zoom were not available at press time.