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Tourney run ends for Northwest Blaze


Beaverton-based AAU softball team performs well at national tournament before being eliminated

Not a bad run.

After dropping its first game in bracket play last week at the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships, the Northwest Blaze 16U softball team rattled off three straight wins in elimination games before a one-run loss ended its tournament run last Thursday in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Four players from western Washington County play on the Beaverton-based Blaze, which draws top players from throughout the Portland metropolitan area. Glencoe’s Macy Besuyen plays outfield for the Blaze, and Liberty’s Kelly Meeuwsen is the team’s shortstop. Banks’ MaKenna Partain (pitcher, third base) and Madison Soper (catcher) also are members of the team.

“It was definitely a good tournament,” said Besuyen, who has played for the Blaze for about five or six years. “There were a lot of good teams there, and I think it was good for our team to get the exposure and play those better teams.”

All four western Washington County players had roles in the squad’s success at the 64-team double-elimination tournament, which started with pool play on July 21 and concluded last Friday. After going 1-2 in pool play last week, the Blaze dropped a 4-1 decision to the KG Hitters, a team from California, to fall into the losers bracket.

The Blaze stayed alive last Wednesday with three victories — 5-3 against the Corona Angels, 4-1 against the Lady Lightning Gold Elite and 6-5 against the Birmingham Thunderbolts.

Then they faced a tough proposition on Thursday. Just to advance to the final in their half of the bracket, the Blaze needed to rattle off five wins, and all on the same day. Instead, the Blaze fell 5-4 in a tight contest against Firecrackers Blanco — a team that advanced to the final game in the bottom of the bracket — in the first game of the day to conclude their California run.

“It was a lot more intense,” Partain said about the tournament. “It was like a whole different atmosphere, so I think that maybe scared us a little bit. I thought we did really good. We beat a lot of good teams that a lot of people didn’t think we’d beat.”

In that last game, Firecrackers Blanco jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the Blaze rallied to tie it up in the third on a two-RBI triple by Partain. But the designated home team scored three more runs in the next inning and then cut off a Blaze rally at two runs in the seventh to escape with the win and advance.

“I think it’s one of the tougher tournaments we’ve been to, but I think it’s great to play the best teams,” Besuyen said. “You know how much harder you need to work to get to that level, and it was just a great experience to play against those teams.”

Across all eight tournament games, Meeuwsen went 5-for-23 at the plate with a double, a triple, two runs scored, seven RBIs and two walks. Partain also batted 5-for-23 with two triples, three runs scored, five RBIs and two walks.

Besuyen batted 4-for-20 with three runs scored, three walks and three stolen bases. Soper, who hit a home run in one of the squad’s pool play contests, went 3-for-15 in the tournament, scored two runs, and had four RBIs and three walks.

The Blaze qualified for both the PGF and ASA national championships this summer but opted to attend the PGF tournament only. The ASA national tournament for 16U teams is being staged this week in California.

With the PGF tournament, the Blaze wrapped up its summer schedule, but the experience should serve the returning players well, as this year was their first at the 16U level, giving them one more year in the age division.

Said Besuyen: “The first year in a different age level is sometimes intimidating, but I think we did pretty good and hopefully we’ll do good next season.”