MINNEAPOLIS -- As Rayna Davis crossed home plate and waded through a mob of ecstatic teammates, she looked toward the sky and let out a scream.Davis had just delivered the biggest hit of her life, and she knew this lead was a permanent one.Davis crushed a massive three-run homer in
MINNEAPOLIS -- As Rayna Davis crossed home plate and waded through a mob of ecstatic teammates, she looked toward the sky and let out a scream.
Davis had just delivered the biggest hit of her life, and she knew this lead was a permanent one.
Davis crushed a massive three-run homer in the fifth inning on Thursday afternoon to put the finishing touch on a historic Houston Astros RBI victory. The Astros topped Rays RBI Tampa, 9-1, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium to capture their first Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series softball title in program history.
"I was just like, 'Get out, ball! Get out!'" Davis said. "We held [Tampa] until the fourth inning, and then we just got on a roll and kept going."
Shortly after Davis' homer, which gave Houston a 7-1 lead, Jaelyn Simmons drilled a double off the left-field wall to score T'Mayria Williams. That pushed the Astros' advantage to eight runs and activated the fifth-inning run rule, ending the game.
Houston starter Jenika Lombrana earned Most Valuable Player honors for the championship game after tossing a complete game and holding the Rays to one earned run on three hits. Over the seven-game tournament, Lombrana tallied a 1.61 ERA.
"It feels really good," Lombrana said. "I knew my team was backing me up, so I was pretty confident. But now, all of our hard work pays off."
The Astros loaded the bases in the first inning and plated a run to take an early lead. But the Rays battled back to tie the game in the third when Ah-Nayia Oglesby reached safely on a two-out bunt single and scored Alexis Smith-Ewing from third.
Houston broke the game open and scored three times in the third, though, and an inning later, Bryanna Bell and Tijah Coleman drew back-to-back walks to set up Davis' game-changing homer.
"That was just the cherry on top," Lombrana said. "I knew Rayna is capable of doing great things like that. That just gave us so much momentum; we wanted to get the run rule so we could go back to Houston and celebrate."
Even though they never trailed on Thursday, Houston's road to the title wasn't a smooth one. They went 2-2 in pool play over the first three days of the World Series, which left them in last place in the American League.
That meant when knockout play began on Wednesday, Houston was tasked with facing No.1-seed Puerto Rico RBI in a win-or-go-home scenario. They delivered a 7-4 upset victory, though, and then cruised past Harrisburg RBI in the semifinals Wednesday afternoon to earn a spot in the championship game.
"Coming in as a four-seed facing a one-seed, the cards are always stacked against you," Hays said. "But these girls had all the heart."
In 2017, the Astros arrived at the RBI World Series with a loaded roster, but they lost their playoff opener and were bounced out of the tournament early. Hayes, who was on maternity leave and didn't travel with the team last summer, knew that this year's group had a chance to be special.
"Definitely [Lombrana] coming in and pitching the way she did this year really helped out," Hays said. "She's really dominant on the mound. Also, I think the girls came back this year and I think they just really wanted it a whole lot more, because they didn't make it as far last year."
For the past few days, the Astros have had a bit of celebrity support behind them. Before Wednesday's quarterfinal game, a few of the Houston players' parents ran into MTV star Emmanuel Hudson at a Minneapolis restaurant and explained that their daughters were playing in a big tournament. Hudson immediately jumped on the Astros' bandwagon.
"I think that pretty much set us up for the next three games," Hays joked.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.