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Five Takeaways From Athletes Unlimited Season 3 Week 4

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(Photo courtesy of Athletes Unlimited)

With the fourth week of Athletes Unlimited softball completed, the third championship season is now heading into its final week of action after a weekend that saw solid pitching performances, elite defensive plays and a record offensive outburst.

Before the final draft takes place, we recap the top storylines from Week Four, and preview the captains for the last weekend of play.

Denham Deals

Alyssa Denham showed that a one-woman show in the circle is still possible at the Athletes Unlimited level.

Denham was fantastic this weekend, as she became the third different pitcher to throw a complete game this season. To make it even sweeter, Denham went the distance again on Sunday afternoon to secure her second victory and her second consecutive complete game.

On Friday evening, Denham propelled Team Chidester to victory by only allowing two runs on three hits, while fanning three batters and allowing just one walk. Her performance in the circle also earned her MVP2 honors. On Sunday afternoon, Denham tossed another gem as she carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and only allowed three hits in the shutout victory to secure MVP1 honors.

Those incredible performances shot Denham into the top four on the leaderboard, earning her the opportunity to be a captain and draft a team for the very first time.

Friday Night Home Run Party

While pitching shined on Friday evening, the long ball was also a hot topic, as seven home runs were hit, which was the most in any doubleheader this season. Seven different players went yard and every team collected at least one home run.

In the first contest between Team Jaquish and Team McCleney, captain Sahvanna Jaquish put her team on the board first by hitting a home run in the first inning. But Shannon Rhodes stayed hot at the plate and tied the game with a solo shot of her own in the fourth inning. Caleigh Clifton then hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning, which proved to be the game winner.

During the nightcap, Erika Piancastelli put Team Mulipola on the board when she hit a solo home run in the second inning, but Tori Vidales delivered a two-run shot to take a 2-1 lead for Team Chidester. Anissa Urtez also added a solo home run of her own to extend the lead, while Dejah Mulipola hit a home run for the fourth consecutive contest.

Record-Breaking Offensive Outburst

In an offensive clinic, Team McCleney took down Team Chidester in what was a record-breaking offensive performance in the league's history. The Orange Team broke the record on runs scored after plating 20 of them on 16 hits, nine walks and four home runs to propel the squad to an emphatic victory over Team Chidester.

Team McCleney fell behind 2-0, but turned the tables and plated seven runs in the second inning. Mia Davidson got the scoring started by hitting a two-run home run, and the scoring was capped when Amanda Lorenz hit a three-run blast. The offense did not slow down, as Clifton hit a two-run home run in the third inning, while Rhodes clubbed a three-run shot in the fourth inning to make the score 12-3.

In the sixth inning, Team McCleney extended the lead to 19-3 after Davidson hit two run-scoring doubles, while Lorenz hit a bases-clearing triple in what was the second seven-run inning of the contest that put the game out of reach for Team Chidester.

Clifton Breaks Out

It is not about how you start, but how you finish. Clifton is the perfect example of this. She entered Week Four at 50th on the leaderboard and had just 516 points. But after some exceptional offensive performances, she shot up to No. 30 on the leaderboard with 946 points.

Team Jaquish and Team McCleney were locked in a tied contest until Clifton stepped up to the plate and delivered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the sixth inning that propelled Team McCleney to the opening night victory, which earned her MVP1 honors.

On Saturday, Clifton stayed hot at the plate by hitting a double in the second inning. She followed that up with another two-run blast in the third inning. She capped off her offensive performance by hitting another double in the seventh inning to secure another round of MVP honors.

Final Captains Set

The final week of competition is officially here and the captains for the last week of play are set. Mulipola continues to be at the top of the leaderboard with a league-leading 1,462 points, and she will lead the Gold Team for the third consecutive week. Amanda Chidester rose to the second spot right behind Mulipola and will be a captain for the fourth time this season, this time leading the Orange Team.

Meanwhile, Denham tossed two complete games in the circle, elevating herself into a captain role for the first time, as she will lead the Blue Team. Haylie McCleney will repeat as captain for the third consecutive week, but she will oversee the Purple Team during the season's final week.

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