Mad River teams host ASA tournament; Helm's U14 is hot team of summer

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

The Mad River Mist put together and hosted an ASA girls fast pitch softball tournament this past weekend at the Arcata Sports Complex. Pulling girls from all over the county, the Mist utilized established summer teams as well as put-together teams for the weekend event held last Friday and Saturday. In an effort to elevate the level of play for the Humboldt area youth, dedicated people like Fortuna's Eric and Kelly Helms work with the girls during the offseason to improve their softball skills, to become winners locally and beyond.

"We have to draw from a county wide talent base to go to places like Sacramento and compete at a high level," said Kelly Helms regarding their efforts during the summer months. "The commitment from the parents is also huge."

The Humboldt area has multiple U16 teams (16 years and younger), but just one U14 team and a U12 team as well. The Helmses have put in a lot of time with a very talented U14 team and it has paid off. The tournament featured that U14 team going up against a U16 team coached by Eureka's Shanna McCracken, a U16 put-together team of local girls, as well as the Comets, a U16 team out of Crater Lake. Kelly Helms with help from Debbie Brown coached the put-together team and some recognizable names were on the roster. Fortuna's Morgan Harwood and Courtney Christiansen, as well as Ferndale's Meagan Earley, Hannah Pichulo and Taryn DeMille, showed up to play a little softball.

The Friday results saw Eric Helm's U14 team win their opener over wife Kelly's U16 team by a 7-4 score. The U14 Mist scored 4 runs in the first inning and cruised to the win. U16's Courtney Christiansen homered and U14's Gizelle Lucerno scored two runs. The U14 team followed up with a 4-2 win over the visiting Crater Lake Comets. Mackenzie Eldridge and Taylor Murray each singled and scored, while Karli Murray hit two doubles in the win. Friday evening saw the U14 team fall to McCracken's U16 team by a 3-2 margin. It was a well pitched and well defended game between two practiced teams.

McCracken's team would go on to a 3-3 record over the tournament while Friday's loss by Helm's U14 team would prove to be their only setback over the two days. Saturday morning saw U14 pitcher Hailey Dolcini throw a complete game (7 innings) no-hitter, with 14 strikeouts. The only base runner for the opposing Comets was hit by a pitch and the Mist won 3-0. The U14 Mist then avenged their only loss by beating McCracken's U16 team in a very competitive 3-2 result. Dolcini and Mackenna Schoenhofer shared the pitching duties in that victory. On the other field, Kelly Helm's U16 team broke through with a 6-3 win over the Crater Lake Comets.

The final game of Saturday saw the U14 team top the U16 team by a final of 9-5. Hailey Dolcini had a 2-RBI triple and Autumn Burtram has a RBI single and finished 2 for 3 for the U14 Mist. U16's Taryn DeMille had two singles and Danielle laced a double. There was no championship to the round robin event. The U14 team finished with a event best 5-1 record. Earlier this summer the Helms U14 team also struck paydirt as mid July saw the team win the Napa Valley Classic ASA Tournament. Hailey Dolcini won MVP honors. Three weeks prior to that, the team won the Nicole Madsen Tournament in Rohnert Park, Mist Karlie Murray hit two home runs at that event. Coming up this weekend, Shanna McCracken will take her U16 team to Sacramento for a tournament and the U14 team will take a little time off until traveling to Medford, Oregon for a big tournament on the Labor Day weekend.

Photos by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon

1. Members of the Mad River Mist teams gather for a group photo on Aug. 3 after the ASA Tournament in Arcata. Three Mist teams took on the Crater Lake Comets, as well as each other in the two-day event. The Mist's August schedule is light, but there is still out-of-town action to be had in both the 16U and 14U divisions.

2. ASA Mad River Mist batter Autumn Burtram takes a rip at a fastball at the Arcata Sports Complex on Aug. 3. Burtram ripped two singles in the final game of the weekend, as the U14 Mist upset the U16 team by a score of 9-5.