Mast goes undefeated to win 13 & Under Girls’ JIC, comes from loss side to take 18 & Under

Sofia Mast

On the weekend of August 27-29, Tampa, FL’s Sofia Mast first went undefeated to claim her 4th Junior International Championships (JIC) title in the 13 & Under Girls division. Minutes later, she moved from the 7 ft. tables of the 13 & Under matches to the 9-ft. tables of the 18 & Under matches to face and eventually defeat Precilia Kinsley in the semifinals, and then, in the finals, Courtney Hairfield, to claim her 3rd 18 & under Girls division title. Headed toward the 8th and final (regular season) JIC event, scheduled for Sept. 24-26, at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA, she has improved steadily throughout this series of events and is the undisputed leader in the rankings of both divisions, with a total of 7 titles among the two divisions’ 14 total events.

In addition to winning four of the JIC’s 13 & Under Girls titles, she has been runner-up in the other three; to Bethany Tate in the first event in March, to Skylar Hess in the fourth event in May and to April Gonzales in the fifth event in June. At this most recent event, she and Skylar Hess renewed acquaintances, so to speak, meeting twice, in the hot seat and finals of the division that drew 8 entrants to Michael’s Billiards in Fairfield, OH. 

Mast began her quest for the 13 & Under Girls title against Skylynn Elliott, whom she defeated 7-2 to draw Bethany Tate in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Hess, in the meantime, got by Franki Spain 7-5 to draw Taylor Perkins in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hess shut Perkins out to advance to the hot seat match and was joined by Mast, who sent Tate to the loss side 7-5. Mast gave up only a single rack in claiming the hot seat.

On the loss side, Bethany Tate (14) drew Airianna Taylor, who’d defeated Franki Spain 7-3 to reach her. Perkins drew Bethany’s younger sister, Noelle (11), who’d lost her opening match to her sister and then, shut out Skylynn Elliott to reach Perkins. The ground was laid for a sibling rematch in the quarterfinals.

It happened. Bethany eliminated Taylor 7-2, as Noelle dispatched Perkins 7-3. This time, though, the younger Tate (Noelle) defeated the elder Tate (Bethany) 7-5. Noelle couldn’t get around Skylar Hess in the semifinals, though. Hess eliminated her 7-2 for a second shot at Mast in the finals.

As expected, by all who’ve been paying attention, Mast and Hess put on an epic battle, featuring a lot of remarkable shooting, with everything from eye-popping bank shots to jump shots; one of which, by Skylar Hess in the 6th game, allowed her to win that game. They started out by trading racks to 1-1, before Mast chalked up three in a row to take her first of three, 3-point leads (4-1, 7-4, 8-5).

Hess kept fighting back, taking advantage of a few of Mast’s mistakes, to draw within a single rack twice, at 4-3 and 5-4. Mast regained a three-rack lead at 7-4, before Hess started what looked to be yet another comeback to draw close. Hess won the 12th rack to draw within two at 7-5.

Mast scratched early in game 13, shooting at the 2-ball, leaving Hess what looked to be a relatively easy path to a run. Near the end of the rack, there was some maneuvering around the table, until Mast took a shot at the 8-ball and it rattled in the hole and stayed on the edge. The downside for Hess was that the cue ball kept travelling and at a snail’s pace, nestled itself tight up against the 9-ball. Hess attempted a jump shot, but it failed and Mast reached the hill at 8-5. Seconds later, it was over and Mast was the event’s 13 & Under Girls winner.

Hot seat loss is first (and eventually, only) loss for Mast in the entire weekend

The 18 & Under Girls division drew 12 entrants; Mast and Hess among them. But it was Mast and Courtney Hairfield who battled twice to claim the title. 

After an opening round bye, Mast shut out Tatum Cutting (ranked 3rd in this division with two wins) and drew Kennedy Meyman in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meyman, who won the season opener in this division in March, is in second place in the division behind Mast. Hairfield defeated Taylor Perkins 7-3 and survived a double hill battle versus Hayleigh Marion to draw Savanna Wolford in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mast downed Meyman 7-5 and was joined in the hot seat match by Hairfield, who’d sent Wolford to the loss side 7-4. Mast and Hairfield battled to double hill, but Hairfield prevailed to claim the hot seat, handing Mast her only loss of the entire weekend.

Meyman drew Bethany Tate, who’d been defeated by Tatum Cutting in the opening round and then, on the loss side, started by shutting out Hayleigh Marion. Bethany and Noelle Tate then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Bethany to face Meyman. Wolford picked up Precilia Kinsley, who’d been defeated by Meyman in the second round and gone on to defeat Elli Gonzales and Tatum Cutting, both 7-4.

Tate advanced to the quarterfinals 7-5 over Meyman. Kinsley joined her after eliminating Wolford 7-2. Tate and Kinsley fought to double hill in those quarterfinals before Kinsley dropped the final 9-ball. 

For all of the ‘steam-rolling’ aspect of Sofia Mast’s match play to this point, in both divisions, she was not afforded the opportunity to rest on her laurels at the semifinal juncture of the 18 & Under Girls event. Precilia Kinsley put up a fight and came within a game of forcing a 13th double hill game. Mast did, though, edge out in front to win it 7-5 and earn a second shot at Hairfield waiting for her in the hot seat.

Mast did fire up the steamroller for her last match of the JIC weekend. Though Hairfield threatened in individual racks, she was never able to get any traction. Mast shut her out to claim her second title of the weekend.

JIC Tour Director Ra Hanna thanked all of his sponsors for their help in making this event possible, Mike Littman with Littman Lights, Matt Suite at American Billiard Covering, Dynaspheres, Chris Wilson at The League Room, Kory & Trena Wolford from Wolfs Den Billiards and Mike from Michael’s Billiards.