Taney Youth Baseball Association is two wins away from a United States championship at the Little League World Series, thanks mostly to the efforts of Mo'ne Davis.
The female superstar was outstanding in the lead-up to Williamsport and has not slowed down at the highest level. She opened up the tournament with a complete-game shutout that featured eight strikeouts and just two hits allowed. This came after another shutout in the regional finals.
These performances helped her become a national phenomenon, with a wide variety of people taking notice of the 13-year-old player:
Mo'Ne Davis ......goosebumps You're awesome! Unbelievable— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) August 15, 2014
When I was five, Mo'Ne Davis is what I wanted to be when I grew up. Go get 'em, girl!— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) August 15, 2014
While Little League rules strictly enforce pitch count, Davis was so efficient in her win that she will be able to return for the team's third game. Fortunately, the bats came alive in the Philadelphia team's second game—including a Davis RBI—and the team advanced past the Southwest representatives from Pearland Texas.
With his squad needing another win, Taney manager Alex Rice has an easy choice in regard to whom he should send to the mound for Wednesday's battle against Mountain Ridge Little League. He explained his decision, via Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
There's nobody else I would rather go up against them with. We've played East Coast tournaments with travel teams from California that have come here. And Mo'ne has pitched against them and we've done well. We've won. We're not intimidated.
She's amazing. All of these kids are amazing. I can't fathom going out in front of however many people we had tonight, even though they were pro Mid-Atlantic. She's unflappable.
A mixture of composure on the mound and pure talent is what has made Davis so impressive. Her fastball gets up to 70 MPH, which is terrifying for hitters on a mound that is only 45 feet away from the plate. This adds to a curveball that keeps opponents off balance.
Against almost any team at this level, the talented player would be able to once again cruise to victory.
Unfortunately, her next start will be a difficult one. After dominating the West regional, Mountain Ridge has kept its momentum with some outstanding offense. Through two games, the Las Vegas squad has scored 25 runs on 25 hits to earn two mercy-rule victories.
The last game featured a lot of big hits, including a grand slam by Brad Stone. Austin Kryszczuk hit two home runs with three RBI after getting three hits in the first game. Zach Hare, Brennan Hooligan and others have been productive as well in Williamsport.
Las Vegas native Bryce Harper was proud of the team's effort:
Mountain Ridge LL doin it right now! Let's go boys!! #LLWS— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) August 17, 2014
There is simply so much depth in this lineup that the opposing pitcher will have no breaks during the game.
For Davis, this will represent a serious challenge. Even with her great arsenal of pitches, it will likely take more of them to get by each batter. As a result, her efficiency from the last game will drop dramatically.
Mountain Ridge will get hits against the star pitcher and should be able to drive at least a run or two in. While she will still have a solid showing overall, the raised pitch count will force her out of the game before it finishes.
Philadelphia will only win if hitters like Jared Sprague-Lott and Zion Spearman come through. Davis will give the team a chance to win, but she will not be able to completely shut down the opposing squad like usual.
Predicted Stat Line: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K
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