Freight sweep way to Kelso Klassic Title

The Vandalia Guaranteed Air Freight fastpitch softball team is back – with a vengance.

Coming off a second national title and an offseason of uncertainty regarding its future, the Freight showed it’ll be a force to be reckoned with once again by sweeping its way to the title at the Kelso, Mo., Klassic over the weekend.

The Freight put together a flawless 4-0 record in a variety of fashions, winning a couple of laughers – including an 8-1 trouncing of Swansea-based Pete’s Blues in Sunday’s title game – in addition to pulling out an extra-inning victory and opening the tournament with a walk-off win.

Jeff Swaney’s grand-slam in the bottom of the seventh foretold of great things to come, as it gave the Freight a 7-3 win over The Posse out of Memphis, Tenn.

The Freight had rallied to tie the game an inning earlier on Brad Sturdy’s RBI triple.

JD Arnold and Rich Well then led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, and a Bob Nagel walk loaded the bases for Swaney.

Swaney’s walkoff blast made a winner out of Alan Meinhart, who gave up three earned runs on five hits over seven innings. Meinhart struck out 10 and walked three.

Well led a nine-hit Freight attack by going 3-for-3 with a double, while Mike Simmons had an RBI triple in the fifth. Randy Clampitt drove in Simmons with an RBI single in that frame, finishing 2-for-3.

The Freight rolled to a 7-1 win over the Pirates of Murphysboro in its first game Saturday, as Nick Casey led a balanced 11-hit attack by going 2-for-2 with a homer and two RBIs. Simmons added a two-run single in three trips to the plate, while Swaney was 2-for-3. Clampitt and Nagel chipped in RBI hits as well.

Sturdy was outstanding in the pitcher’s circle, giving up just one earned run on five hits in a complete-game effort. Sturdy struck out 11 and walked two.

Well’s solo homer in the top of the 11th broke a 4-4 deadlock against Pete’s Blues in the semifinals Saturday night, proving to be the difference in a wild game that featured four lead changes and 31 hits.

Clampitt added an insurance tally with an RBI single moments later, as the Freight moved on to Sunday’s championship with a hard-fought 6-4 win.

The Freight banged out 20 of those 31 base knocks, with Nagel leading the way by going 4-for-6 with an RBI.

Casey and Clampitt added three hits and an RBI apiece, while Well was 2-for-6 with two RBIs. Bryan Hobbie was also 2-for-6, while Simmons was 2-for-3 with a triple and Arnold was 2-for-5.

Sunday’s title game proved far less dramatic, as the Freight jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and cruised to an 8-1 win over Pete’s Blues.

Nagel, Tim Hatten and Swaney had RBI doubles in the decisive opening frame, which proved to be more than enough for Sturdy and Meinhart, who combined on a six-hitter.

Sturdy picked up the win by working the first five innings, as he gave up just one earned run on five hits, striking out four and walking none. Meinhart threw the final frame, allowing no runs on one hit.

Brian Buscher’s three-run double broke the game open in the fifth, and Hatten capped a 2-for-3 day with a solo homer in the sixth.

Swaney led a 12-hit Freight attack by going 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI, while Burnam was 2-for-2 with a double.

The Freight (4-0) will return to action June 27-29 at the Altamont Fourth of July Tournament.

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