DJ Sanders

Recap: Alyssa Denham remains No. 1 as team holds on in 6-3 win

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2022 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Eric Rhew
Aug 28, 2022

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Pitcher Alyssa Denham and her teammates have done everything they can do to keep her in the top spot of the leaderboard. Now, the waiting begins.

Team Denham surged to a 4-0 lead and held off a comeback attempt by Team McCleney to claim a 6-3 triumph in the penultimate game of the 2022 Athletes Unlimited Softball Championship Season at the Parkway Bank Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.

The win allowed Denham to finish with a perfect 3-0 record in her first week as captain, while Team McCleney closed the final segment of the season with a 2-1 mark.

Denham, who upped her record to 6-0 in the circle, allowed three runs on three hits with one strikeout over 4.0 innings before handing the ball over to Rachel Garcia. Garcia completed the victory by scattering just two hits in the final 3.0 frames, earning her league-record third save of the season.

Garcia claimed the MVP 1 award to tally 196 leaderboard points in her final outing of the season, while Denham followed with 138 points after receiving MVP 3 recognition.

Middle infielder Aubrey Leach and corner infielder Sahvanna Jaquish each tallied two hits in the victory for Team Denham, while designated player DJ Sanders slugged a two-run home run in the opening inning.

Outfielder Haylie McCleney secured MVP 2 distinction in her final appearance of the season after going 2-for-4 with a single and double. McCleney, who fashioned 88 leaderboard points, stands in second place with 1,650 leaderboard points entering the season finale between Team Chidester and Team Mulipola.

The loss by Team McCleney spoiled the final game of pitcher Danielle O’Toole’s career. O’Toole, the 2022 AUX Softball champion, closed her career by becoming the league’s all-time leader in innings pitched after throwing 5.2 innings. The former Arizona star allowed six runs on nine hits while registering a strikeout.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Team Denham used a pair of home runs in the first two innings to sprint out to a 4-0 lead. Corner infielder Tori Vidales got the scoring started with an RBI double in the first inning before Sanders followed with her two-run homer to left field. A solo home run by right fielder Danielle Gibson to lead off the second inning upped the advantage to 4-0.

LEADERBOARD IMPACT

Garcia continued her late climb up the leaderboard by moving into sixth place after a five-position improvement on Sunday. In addition, Jaquish entered the top four spots in the league standings and holds third place pending the results of the season finale.

GAME NOTES

  • After registering a hit in her first 13 games, outfielder Shannon Rhodes was held without a hit for the second straight game after going 0-for-3 in the loss on Sunday.

  • There have now been 71 home runs hit through 29 games this season … The 71 homers are the second-highest total in the league’s three seasons after the inaugural campaign featured 100 home runs.

  • O’Toole, who threw 100 or more pitches for the fourth time this season, finished her career with 130.0 innings pitched over three seasons, surpassing the 124.1 innings thrown by Aleshia Ocasio … O’Toole’s 84 career strikeouts moved her into third place on the Athletes Unlimited Softball Championship Season career list.

  • Garcia’s third save also broke a tie for the top spot on the league’s career list … She is one of four pitchers with multiple saves in their career.

  • The teams were a combined 5-for-19 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.

  • Five of the nine runs scored in the game came with two outs.

  • With nine runs scored in Sunday’s opener, there have now been 273 runs scored in 29 games this season … Aspiration is committed to planting 10 trees for every run scored as part of its “Aspiration Round the Bases” initiative.

GAME MVPS

  • #1 – Rachel Garcia (Team Denham, +60)
  • #2 – Haylie McCleney (Team McCleney, +40)
  • #3 – Alyssa Denham (Team Denham, +20)

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