08/11/12 7:40 PM ET
Harrisburg and DR RBI face off in softball final
By Jordan Garretson / MLB.com
Regardless of the contrast in their roads to the title game, Dominican Republic RBI (8-0) and Harrisburg RBI (7-1) have left little doubt over the course of the week that they are the class of the tournament. The two will meet at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday at the University of Minnesota's Jane Sage Cowles Stadium to determine who can call themselves champion. The game will be broadcast on MLB Network on Aug. 17 at noon ET.
Harrisburg won its first five games in pool play before dropping its last on Thursday, a 5-4 loss to Cleveland RBI. Whether it was bad momentum continuing from that defeat, they needed all seven innings of Saturday's quarterfinal to put away a Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club (St. Louis) team that went 0-6 in pool play. Harrisburg also appeared destined to come up short of the title game until Taylor Weisman's walk-off double in a 3-2 semifinal against RBI Atlanta.
If anything, Harrisburg's flair for the dramatic should help make its players somewhat immune to the pressure and big stage of Sunday's game.
"I think with the last two games we just played, they understand pressure," Harrisburg manager Mike Stepp said. "They've played enough softball to know what it's all about. Yeah, the big stage is there for them tomorrow -- I don't know if any of them ever played in front of a television camera before. Hey, I haven't coached in front of a television camera before, either. They'll be ready for it."
Stepp said he hopes to be able to pitch Makenzie Lynn, depending on how she feels following Saturday's game. Lynn went the distance against Atlanta, giving up two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.
She owns a 1.00 ERA in the tournament and has struck out 23 batters in 14 innings while walking only four.
"We'll see how Mackenzie is, how she comes down after this," Stepp said following Saturday's game. "Definitely the ball is going to be hers if she wants it."
Lynn -- or whomever Stepp hands the ball to -- will try to slow down an offense that has showed no sign of easing up on the accelerator. The Dominican Republic reached the title game following respective 10-1 and 8-0 victories over Hoboken RBI and Houston RBI on Saturday, both ending in five innings.
The high-powered Dominican squad has launched nine home runs through eight tournament games so far. The lineup boasts three players with two or more homers and four hitters who have played in eight games and are hitting .400 or better.
Weisman said providing her walk-off hit on Saturday against Atlanta was the greatest feeling of her life, but smart money says a victory on Sunday might even top that. She was on the Harrisburg squad that was eliminated from last year's tournament before it could reach the championship game.
"We're ready," Weisman said. "I wanted the opportunity last year, but it was taken from us. Now it's our year to take it from [DR]."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.