STERLING — Even with a fractured tibia, Jessie Green couldn ‘t stay away from the softball field.
It took a pair of crutches for her to get there, but the Fire & Ice pitcher was determined to support her 14-&-under teammates even if she couldn ‘t really help them.
“I love this sport. Half my life is softball,” Green said. “My answering machine says if I ‘m not home, I ‘m at the field.”
That ‘s true even when she ‘s injured.
She ‘s missed only one tournament game all summer.
“My injury really took me out of my game for a while,” Green said. “It really tore me up. I asked my dad a thousand times if I could play just one inning. They had me tied down to a chair.”
Green discovered she had a stress fracture just after her high school season ended. If she ‘d been playing hurt, it didn ‘t show. In her first varsity season at Stonewall Jackson, the Raiders ‘ designated hitter batted .435 with 28 RBIs, including four in a state-tournament victory over Lake Braddock.
She joined Fire & Ice this summer because she felt they had the potential to be a championship-caliber team. It turned out Green was right.
They ‘ve won 10 tournament titles this summer, many of them without Green. She spent three weeks on crutches and just returned to the starting lineup on Tuesday.
The timing couldn ‘t have been better for Fire & Ice, which went unbeaten against a 121-team field to capture the PONY National Tournament of Champions.
“I ‘m glad I could spend my summer with these girls,” Green said. “This is my first week back and it feels really great.”
The week felt better as it went along — for Green and Fire & Ice.
In her first game back in the pitcher ‘s circle, the left-hander tossed a no-hitter to help Fire & Ice earn a No. 1 seed. On Sunday, after the team had pulled off exciting championship bracket wins over the Vienna Stars and the Virginia Lady Eagles, Green held the Suncoast (Fla.) Outlaws to two hits in the semifinals.
When she wasn ‘t pitching, Green could be found at first base — a much more appealing spot than the dugout. That ‘s where she was for Fire & Ice ‘s biggest win of the tournament season — a 1-0 eight-inning triumph over the Vienna Shamrocks that clinched the PONY National 14-&under title.
As usual, Green was backing up her best friend, Stonewall Jackson sophomore Kirby Jenkins, who used a menacing drop-curve to hold the Shamrocks to two hits in eight innings.
“Kirby and I live by each other. Whenever we ‘re together we flaunt our softball,” Green said. “We show who we are. Softball ‘s our life.”
That was evident on Sunday, when Kirby shut down one of the nation ‘s most powerful lineups. Working successfully on both corners of the plate, she was never in danger of allowing a run in seven regulation innings.
“I was just trying to get them out and not let them score,” Jenkins said.
14U ROCK ‘N ‘ FIRE FINISHES IN TOP-16
After qualifying for the Sweet 16 of the Pony National Tournament of Champions, Rock ‘n ‘ Fire lost Saturday night in the first round of championship play.
The Midway (Del.) Orange Crush scored the only run of the game on a base hit with two outs in the seventh inning to pull out a 1-0 win.
Potomac High School sophomore Shyla Rider allowed only two base runners in the first six innings before Orange Crush rallied in its final at-bat.
In only its second season, Rock ‘n ‘ Fire finished first in their pool and also went unbeaten in double-elimination bracket play to reach the championship round. They advanced to the round of 16 with a 17-0 victory over East Coast Eclipse behind a complete-game pitching performance from Kelly Weber.
“I wish we could have saved a couple of those runs,” coach Don Lyddane said.
12U MANASSAS BLAZE SECOND IN REGIONALS
The 12-&-under Manassas Blaze finished second at the Babe Ruth Regional Tournament in Kinston, N.C.
The Virginia state champions reached the finals behind an 8-4 victory over the S. Carolina state champions and a 6-2 victory over Orange County, Florida.
Pitt County handed the Blaze a 3-0 loss in the title game.
The Manassas Blaze 10-&-under softball team didn ‘t let persistent rain spoil their trip to the Babe Ruth Regional Tournament.
Despite having games rained out on Thursday and Saturday, the Blaze made the most of their playing time.
The reigning Virginia state champions defeated host Kinston, 4-1, on Friday and the Cape Fear, 7-3, on Saturday en route to a third place finish.
The Blaze ‘s two losses came against the teams that reached the championship game Pitt County and Oviedo, Fla.
In Sterling, the 14-&-under Blaze reached the finals of double-elimination bracket play and finished the PONY National Tournament of Champions in a tie for 17th place out of 121 teams.
After climbing their way out of the losers ‘ bracket on Saturday, the Blaze lost, 5-2, to the Baseliners in the bracket finals.
Dave Utnik covers softball for the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at (703) 878-8053.