Softball juniors finally got under way, commencing with some eager juniors returning to their batter up programme. Weather conditions precluded the start last week, so this weekend matches were played on both Saturday and Sunday. Players certainly appreciated the cooler conditions given that some were playing in two games.
Tigers came out all guns blazing against Checkmates and it wasn’t their strong big hitting which won the game for them. In a six run second innings batters Short, Peterson and Casey Baldock bunted to perfection to move runners around, one base at a time. Tigers piled on another 5 runs in the 4th innings with 7 of their batters stringing together safe hits. Adding to their strength, Tigers Maddie Baldock conceded just 3 safe hits in a 5 innings game, holding Checkmates to 2 runs for the whole game. No matter what changes “Robbo” made it certainly was Tigers day – they were on a roll and went all out to register an impressive win. Cougars outfield, captained by Amanda Steff and ably assisted by Georgia Salt, kept this game in the balance for the whole 90 minutes. Cats big batters were on song, but good hits, taken by good catches do not win matches. Admittedly it was a trying day for batters, what was pleasing was the depth Cats batters got on their hits, but the game was won by some solid ground batting by Krista Young, Penny Lynch and Sam Burt. Solid one base hits moving each other around. It was a good match to watch and Salt is proving to be an asset for Cougars – her outfield work was outstanding and then “Milky” Voumard gave her a stint at pitching. She’s not quite ready for the big league, but she was prepared to have a go and that’s important.
It's a bit concerning when one of the oldest players in the Cats line up bats safely 3 times to bat, and, in the first innings faced 10 pitches before picking the right one to cream over left field’s head. Well done Tanya Scarman. A lesson in patience for young and up coming players. Take nothing away from Cougars who were very well served by Kristy O’Neill on the mound and her batting has improved tremendously. The highlight of her game was a massive hit which looked like it was gone for all money, but Jo Houghagen just stuck out her glove – a great hit taken by a great catch. Brodee Fogden for Cougars is a quiet achiever and she is making her mark both in the field and with the bat. Checkmates held on for a nail biting finish against Tigers. This was a good score line. Checkmates got out of the blocks in the first innings bringing in 4 runs and that’s where it stopped. Deanna Spencer was back at her batting best with some strong right field hits from the accurate pitching of Taylor Eglinton. Checkmates were a little unlucky with some of their batting – Tigers Alana Freer featured in a double play as a result of strong line drive from Jess Haren and Freer also took out another potential batting threat with a great catch from a line drive from Bernie Good. Tigers couldn’t get any batting going from the accurate pitching of Sam Youngman. Youngman is an asset in the black and white side simply because of her accuracy – Youngman conceded only 1 base on balls in a 5 innings game. Well done.
The game between Checkmates and Solly Cats was evenly poised before Cats put together an eight run innings to take the points. Alyssa Caputo for Cats put in a consistent performance, and aided by Michelle Williams accurate pitching, Checkmates found runs hard to come by. Maigan Schuebeck. played solidly behind the mask and well done to Meteha DeGorinomo who took over that position late in the game, a couple of promising juniors to watch out for in the future.
Jesse Skipworth Taylor continues to impress for Cougars, her solid batting and safe glove at first were instrumental in Cougars strong win over Checkmates. Drazic Roberts continues to be his energetic self, no matter where he plays and, in this game, he combined with Marlee Biddell as pitcher catcher combination. Cougars had two strong batting innings a 7-run dig and then a 5 run dig. Checkmates managed only two runs, both came late in the game with a couple of strong outfield hits from Maigon Schubert and Ayeisha Everett.
Checkmates ran out comfortable winners against Cougars – well done Checkmates Lilly Emms who had 2 safe hits in their strong showing. Checkmates had two seven run innings, Cougars rallied late in the game but were playing catch up softball and left their run too late to impact on the score. The Solly Cats game against Tigers was a very tight tussle. Cats started well with a 7 run innings and Tigers responded with two 5 run innings whilst Cats languished, making only one run in reply, but they came back strongly with a 5 run innings to take the points. Alyssa Ganley is becoming a valuable pitcher and Beau Bridley was a valuable contributor. With the number of boys playing in this grade, it will stand the Association in good stead to be competitive enough to enter a boys under 13 team in future State Championships.
Checkmates started with a new look fielding line up and it was almost their undoing with Sharon Ciampi moving away from her usual first base position. This lasted for two innings before the change back occurred. Rachel Ciampi produced some great batting and was able to hold the Cougars powerhouse for the first couple of innings. Emily Gonsalves for Cougars batted well – some “experts” would question how she can bat so well with such a wide batting stance, but it continues to work for her. The game was close until the third innings – only one run separating the two teams. Five runs crossed the plate for Checkmates and Cougars had a chance to get in front, but could only manage one run – a disappointing finish for them. Welcome back to some good batting from Nadine Dunn as Tigers took on the strength of Cats. Both teams started slowly, with only 2 runs separating the sides after the 2nd innings. In the third dig Cats brought in 5 runs, the highlight of the innings a solid right field home run from Steph Cutler who relished being home from work duties and being able to play two games over the weekend. Cats would have felt good about that innings, but Tigers can never be under estimated and they fought back bringing in 7 runs – falling just short of making Cats bat again.
Sunday games can be challenging at times, Tigers could only field a team of eight players and Cats benefited from some of their talented under 17 players making up their 9. Chloe Knibbs for Cats whose claim to fame is that of a champion A grade netballer, took to the field, showing her sporting prowess, with 2 safe hits and a spectacular catch at right field. The experience of Jess Axon on the mound, (4K2’s) and Jo Schmidt with her wise words of wisdom and some good base running, saw Cats take out the points – not decisively, but certainly an improvement on their previous game. Hayley Griffiths was the best for Tigers with two safe hits from 3 times at bat.
Cougars followed on with their strong Saturday form with a solid win over Checkmates. Aided by a 9 and 6 run win, Cougars were never going to be defeated. Katelyn Wilson – the quiet achiever batted solidly for Cougars with 3 safe hits from 4 times at bat, Mel Gonsalves made a cameo appearance For Cougars and held down the difficult shortstop position. It was a game that Checkmates would have liked to forget – one glimmer of light a return to batting form from Leonora Neil – 2 safe hits from 2 at bats.
Solly Cats defeated the highly favoured Cougars in a display of good softball and lots of determination. Michelle Williams pitched strongly (6 K2s) and 3 safe hits from 4 times at bat. A much-improved Alyssa Caputo contributed with 2 safe hits from 3 times at bat. The enthusiasm from the junior members of the team is catching and each member contributed either with a safe hit or some strong fielding. Well done Mia Williams who played the very difficult third base position. Merridy (she’s a keeper) Fetherstonhaugh showed her class for Cougars with some very strong batting (3 safe hits) to make sure that Cougars stayed in touch, but it was Cat’s day.
Shining lights for the under 13 competition Courtney Hoare for Checkmates, (2 sh) Cats Liam Williams (2 sh), Ariel Tee Tigers (2 sh) and Skye Voumard Cougars (2 sh) The juniors are developing and learning how to play the game of softball. Congratulations to Tigers who have an abundance of players in this grade. Let’s hop they can keep their players and build a strong junior base from which to grow their club
A reminder, to all senior players that the Masters Games are getting closer, please see Anthea Dunbar or Evelyn Dumois to register your interest.