MINNEAPOLIS -- After a morning workout session, the teams in the RBI Softball World Series took to the field on Saturday afternoon to begin play in the 2013 installment of the tournament.
Each of the eight teams played a doubleheader, but only three walked away with a perfect 2-0 afternoon -- Harrisburg RBI, Houston RBI and Santo Domingo RBI.
But Cleveland head coach Kathryn Bzdafka is glad her team faced a little adversity early, taking an 8-0 loss to Harrisburg before earning an 11-0 decision over Atlanta later in the afternoon.
"I think they kind of needed that to refresh why they're here and to come together as a team," Bzdafka said. "You can't come together and you can't be resilient if nothing goes wrong."
The early loss paid quick dividends, as Cleveland jumped ahead of Atlanta, 5-0, in the first. Going through the order plus one, Cleveland saw all but one batter reach safely, and only two baserunners were left stranded.
Lauren Peak led off the inning with a walk and, after successfully stealing second, scored what would be the winning run on a Melissa Caraballo base hit. Due to some errant defense on Atlanta's part, Caraballo extended the hit to a triple and tried to reach home but was tagged out. With one out, the scoring was just getting started. Four hits and one walk later, Cleveland held a healthy five-run cushion, and it added six runs in the third.
Atlanta starting pitcher Chelsea Hall gave up a walk and two hits to start the third, but Atlanta was able to get two outs. Looking for just one more, Hall walked three straight batters to walk in a run, giving Cleveland a seven-run lead. After batting through the order plus three in the third, Cleveland held an 11-run lead.
"Situational, clutch hitting," Bzdafka said of the offense. "We preach that you need to control the controllables and do the little things right, and that's what they were doing. They weren't going up there swinging at bad pitches. They were up there looking for specific pitches and actually doing what they were supposed to do. … When you do the little things right, the big things take care of themselves."
Cleveland pitcher Alexandra Scali faced only 17 batters in the afternoon tilt thanks to the backing of a sharp defense.
Elsewhere, Harrisburg finished its perfect day with an 8-1 win over Hoboken, which started the day with an 11-2 win over Atlanta.
With two rough losses on the day, Atlanta is looking to rally on Sunday.
Defending champions Santo Domingo enjoyed a two-win day with a 13-0 shutout of St. Louis and a 16-8 win over Hilo. Hilo suffered a loss earlier in the afternoon to Houston, 13-3. St. Louis faced a similar fate, with a 10-5 loss to Houston en route to going 0-2 on Day One.
For the third consecutive year, the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series is being hosted by the Twins, with baseball and softball tournaments to be played through Wednesday on various fields throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com.