By BRAD KEITH
(July 21, 2017) — Before last summer, no Dublin youth team had won so much as a single game in a Texas Teenage Softball state tournament.
Now the city has its first group of state champions.
The 10U Dublin Dominators won 7-6 and 5-3 to sweep away second-place Troy Bomb Squad in the final pairing Friday, capping five days of action in Mildred.
Dublin had roughly five hours of rest after sending Belton home in third place, while Troy had been idle since handing the Dominators (20-1) a 7-5 loss, their only defeat of the summer.
“I’ve never been more proud to be from Dublin. I told the girls to take pride in this because they showed everyone that Dublin can go to big tournaments and beat the best teams. They showed Dublin is a community that can pull together and achieve great success, and I hope everyone in town realizes now that we have some special kids coming up. This is just the beginning, there are more big things coming.”
-Dominators head coach Tommy Cisneroz
Leading the way:
Kiersten Fincannon was in the circle for every pitch of the season, and Chloe Cisneroz knelt behind the plate for all of them. The pitcher and catcher are the daughters of Dominator assistant coach Toby Fincannon and Cisneroz, the head coach.
Kiersten pitched a shutout and a no hitter on her way to allowing three runs in the opening four games. Dublin opponents scored 25 total runs, a handful of them unearned, in the tournament.
Cisneroz and Fincannon were also the big hitters for Dublin. Fincannon singled and scored on a double by Cisneroz for the first run of the state final. They drew walks as pitchers tried to get them to chase, and Belton paid dearly after showing the two big hitters the ultimate respect by intentionally walking them back-to-back, and even that worked out in Dublin’s favor.
STEPPING UP ALL AROUND:
Cisneroz said it best in describing the difference in finishing sixth in 2016 and winning it all in 2017.
“Kiersten and Chloe carried us as far as they could last year. This year, we much better as a team and had players stepped up around them. They made more plays in the field and got girls out on the bases, too. And every time we needed a big, timely hit, we got it. Emma Rose Villegas, Avery Johnson, Callie Sears, Kre Hicks, Kaylan Kaiser (daughter of assistant coach Aaron Kaiser) they all had hits that were right on time. It really was championship-level full-team softball.”
Sears, Kaiser and Johnson drove in the second, third and fourth runs of the final for Dublin, and leading by just one in the bottom of the fifth, it was Villegas who came through to provide an insurance run with the final RBI of the championship season.
THE BIGGEST OF OUTS:
Troy was within striking distance in its last at bat of both games Friday, but Dublin had the answers. Even when Troy closed a 7-4 margin to 7-6 in the final inning of the first battle, Fincannon came through. In the final inning of the nightcap, she was her dominant self, producing a ground out in the infield, recording a strikeout then securing the state championship by fielding a grounder right back to the circle and tossing it to first to touch off the celebration.
TIP OF THE HAT:
“Troy had a very good, very scrappy team that fought hard all the way to the end. They were so well coached, and I felt like it was as tough a strategic matchup as I’ve ever been part of.”
ROAD TO THE TITLE:
Dublin was 7-1 in the state tournament :
Fruitvale, 11-1 W
Wortham, 12-0 W
Rogers, 6-1 W
Belton, 8-1 W
Troy, 7-5 L
Belton 10-6 W
Troy, 7-6 W
Troy, 5-3 W
*Dublin outscored its opponents 71- 25, for an average score of 8.9 to 3.1.
TEAM WIN, COMMUNITY CHAMPIONSHIP:
“Our team parents were absolutely part of this team and this championship. My wife, Robin, was keeping the book and telling us when hitters camp up where they had hit the ball before. We had our other assistant coach, Aaron Kaiser, helping the whole way, and Junior Villegas kept making sure the team had water. We had dads scouting for us this week, everything. I know I’m leaving someone out, but that’s because so many people did so many things for us. They all helped to make this a wonderful experience for the girls.
And the crowd was awesome! The crowd kept getting bigger and louder as the week went on. There were times I forgot we weren’t home in Dublin.”