The biggest compliment paid to Jersey Outlaws Premier on Sunday was how its players made it difficult to tell they were playing their first tournament in 3½ months.
Hard work in the offseason paid off with the Outlaws winning the first of their three indoor tournaments – the USSSA 18U Cupid’s Classic at Wyoming Valley Sports Dome in Wilkes Barre, Pa.
The Outlaws, who went 28-4-1 in the fall, returned with four straight wins in the eight-team field. They defeated the Marlton Thunder, 7-0, and Blue Valley Mountain Lions, 9-0, to earn the No. 1 seed after pool play, then beat Churchville Lightning 18U, 3-2, in the semifinals and New Jersey Rampage Gold, 2-0, in the final.
In the final, Alex Haley singled in Abby Zucatti in the bottom of the second inning and Gigi Venizelos singled in Madison Sisz in the third, and pitchers Elyssa Bohr and Amanda Gonzalez made it stand up. The outfield of Emma Bachman, Amelia Johnson, Abbi Markee, Ashlynne Scardino and Zucatti had a particularly strong game defensively in an excellent wrapup to the day.
Alexa Blue was the hitting standout with two-run hits in each of the first three games. In the tight semifinal, she singled in a pair and leadoff hitter Megan Berg raced home on a wild pitch to give winning pitcher Haylei Archer enough of a lead. Archer struck out five.
Scardino and Gonzalez combined on the opening win over Marlton, and Julia Mayernik drilled a two-run double, Blue a two-run single and Haley an RBI single. In the win over Blue Valley, Johnson slugged a three-run triple and Blue hit a two-run triple, while Sisz, Haley and Zucatti also had RBIs to back Gonzalez and Bohr.
Speedster Nicole Cerasi missed the tournament as she was off running sprints in the NJSIAA sectionals, but her Outlaws teammates clearly moved fast off the starter's block to open their winter schedule.