Vipers 18U won six straight games in winning the 2022 Hope’s Turn At Bat tournament title at Todd Field over the weekend.
The Vipers won all three pool play games and then won three straight on Sunday to finish the tournament 6-0.
“This is one weekend that we really showed up every single game,” said Vipers coach Jo Bondra. “Whereas in the past, we might show up for two games and not the last one or we’ll show up on a Saturday and then on Sunday, we’re kind of slow, but this weekend they showed up ready every single game.”
Bondra rode pitcher Mikayla Berquist (Crestwood/Morton College) to the title on Sunday.
Berquist pitched 2/3 of an inning to earn a save in the Vipers’ 4-2 first-round win over the Maniacs and then she threw 15 straight innings over the next two games to seal the tournament win.
She allowed one earned run and struck out four in six innings in a 6-4 win over Stark Raiders.
Berquist then turned in a clutch performance in a 3-1 nine-inning win over Willoughby Starzz in the championship game.
“After the (semifinal) game, I asked her if she could go again in the championship and she said she could as long as she could eat something,” Bondra said of Berquist. “I was really pleased with her attitude.”
Berquist battled former South Rebel Emily Kelly toe-to-toe throughout the championship game.
The Vipers struck first when Berquist hit a one-out double in the top of the fifth and pinch runner Kelsie Gaiter scored on an error.
That lead was short-lived as the Starzz used a Catherine Heckman double and a Kelly RBI single in the sixth to tie the game. The Starzz then put the leadoff runner on base in the bottom of the seventh but the Vipers turned a double play to end that threat.
Both teams went in order in the eighth inning.
Thanks to the international tie-breaker, Gaiter started the Vipers ninth on second base. She stole third and scored on an error.
Nia Guess (South/Penn State-New Kensington) then singled and Bella Carcioppolo (Mentor/John Carroll) hit her fourth double of the tournament but Guess was thrown out at the plate.
Carcioppolo gave the Vipers an insurance run when she stole third and scored on an error.
“That was awesome because the phrase “speed kills” definitely was true for us today because we scored all three of our runs on overthrows,” Bondra said. “We did it twice with Kelsie and it was there again with Bella.”
Berquist allowed a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth but retired the final two batters to end the game.
“She came off the field in the seventh inning and Erwin (Hines) and I asked her how much she had left and she said, ‘whatever it takes to win this game,’” Bondra said of Berquist. “She is a gamer and she wanted the ball. She battled for 15 straight innings without even coming out for a second. She did a great job.”
Berquist allowed one run on seven hits and struck out two in the nine-inning complete game.
She ended the tournament 3-0 with a 1.125 earned run average. She allowed three earned runs on 19 hits and struck out 13 to just two walks in 18 2/3 innings of work.
Faith Hartman (Perry/Lakeland) was 2-0 with four strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings.
Offensively, Carcioppolo led the Vipers with a .667 batting average (12-for-18) with four doubles, 11 runs scored, and four runs batted in.
Emma Kovalchuk (Riverside/Lake Erie) hit .556 with a double and a team-high eight RBI. Guess and Berquist both hit .455 and Gianna Cantini (Kirtland) hit .357.
The Vipers, who improved to 16-8-1, will travel to Sandusky this weekend to compete in the Cedar Point Roller Coaster Classic.
Vipers 17U reached the semifinals before having their tournament run and seven-game win streak snapped by eventual tournament champion Chardon Storm.
The Vipers, who improved to 18-11-3, were led by Mak Kobetitsch (2024, Mentor), who batted .538 (7-for-13) with a double, seven runs scored, and two runs batted in.
Olivia Sacks (2024, Mentor) and Lilly Jarc (2024, Beaumont) hit .500 and .444, respectively, and Izzy Coode (2024, Mentor) led the Vipers with two home runs and 10 RBI.
Elena Scott (2025, North Olmsted) and Kassidy Samuelraj (2025, Solon) both won two games in the circle for the Vipers while Jarc finished with one.
Scott struck out eight in 9 1/3 innings of work while Samuelraj and Jarc finished with six and five strikeouts, respectively. Samuelraj posted a team-best ERA of 1.273.