After a taste of hot summers to come earlier in the week, softballers faced cooler weather and a strong southerly breeze which was a boon for pitchers and a bane for batters.
Tigers v Checkmates
What a welcome return to form for Rachel Ciampi of Checkmates. Ciampi was at her best, showing batting form which has been missing for some time. Batting at the niche spot number 3 in the line up she was instrumental in putting together a two bagger and 2 one base hits. A fine effort and a confidence booster. As well as batting strongly, Ciampi conceded only 5 safe hits for the game and recorded 2 K2's. The game started at a slow pace - Tigers were in the game for the first 3 innings, a low score line of 5 runs batted in after 3 innings. At the top of the 4th innings Checkmates brought in 5 runs to blow the score out a little, making it hard for Tigers to catch up. Playing at third base is a prime infield position and, on Saturday Talisha Hillier for Tigers owned this role. In the first dig, Hillier scored the trifecta participating in the first 3 outs of the game.
Cougars v Solly Cats.
Cougars Ann Russack must be enjoying life now - returning to the diamond after a season off and then being propelled into the pitching position. Batters look at her style and think that this is their day - tee off and a home run will result. Right? Wrong? Solly Cats batters found this out to their dismay on Saturday. Windy conditions - long hits to the outfield well caught. Cats Kahla Williams did set the benchmark with a 3 bagger but not enough batters for Cats did enough to trouble the scorer. Last years' best and fairest Amber Steff is on the way to another good season - her catching is right up there with the best; she is as quick as a hare and she's not a bad batter either - her three bagger to right field was a beauty. The second innings for Cougars was Cats' downfall. A safe hit to Emily Gonsalves, and a two bagger to Brooke Waldhuter brought in 5 runs - Cats could only reply 1,0,1,0,0 in five innings.
Cougars A2 v Cougars A3
Cougars A2 had the double header and competed against sister team Cougars A3 and Checkmates A3. In the early game, Cougars A2 fielded a strong side with Kristy O'Neill and Ashlee Williams, their number on combination starting the game. Although the senior side recorded a comfortable win, the A3 side were in the game for the whole 80 minutes. Rhianna Paulauskas is a find for the A3s - a couple of safe hits of the consistent pitching of O'Neill plus some good work at third base - well done Rhianna. Brodie Fogden proved to be a good lead off batter for the senior side, with a couple of solid two base hits and she was capably assisted by Ashleigh Williams and Amey Brook. The challenge when playing against a less skilled side is concentration. It would be unwise to take the Cougars A3 side lightly - there is great depth in this club. It would have been an umpires' nightmare umpiring this game with both teams in the same colours. Maybe the next time the teams play one might need an "away" top.
Cougars A2 v Checkmates A3
The Cougars A2 side had a comfortable win against Checkmates A3, but full credit to the black and whites. Kylie Backshall started on the pitching mound and then Kate Short took over part way through the game. Backshall had a couple of safe hits, but there was lack of depth in the batting department. Once some of the more experienced players in this side hit their straps the score line will look differently. Up and coming junior Jesse Skipworth Taylor played half the game as pitcher and it won't be long before she breaks into the senior ranks.
Checkmates v Solly Cats
A depleted Cats side faced a competitive Checkmates side. The black and whites have a mix of some great experience plus some promising juniors. One of the "finds" for Checkmates has been Amy Lloyd who seems to be at home holding down the key centerfield position. Her catch off the batting of Michelle Williams was nothing short of miraculous - the ball seemed to be going over her head and then she almost did a back flip to glove the ball and make the out. Checkmates didn't shine with the bat and would need to think that, on any other day they might have to prove that they are a good batting side and not rely on an easy path to first. Highlights from the Cats' innings was the great job Jerrylee Brown did as the catcher. She is getting stronger with every game and is certainly prepared to have a hit. Aimee Simmons played her first game in Cats colours and will be an asset in this side.
Under 17 mixed competition
This competition incorporates boys playing in a mixed competition with girls. This has been an initiative of the association over past seasons in the under 13 grade and has been successful as the endeavour is to strengthen the number of boys playing softball. Checkmates, in a double header, had two wins in competitive games. Against Cougars, there were plenty of runs scored and at the end of time only one run separated them. Cohen Tee stepped up from Tigers and has fitted in well for Cougars - he hasn't hit his straps yet, but the season is only young. Full credit to Checkmates and their coaching staff the young black and whites had a feast of safe hits Maigan Scheubeck, and Toby Ellis Nunn had 4 safe hits, Amelia Cricchiola 3 safe hits. Reyf Beazley also had 3 safe hits including a long 3 bagger over left field. Work commitments precluded Cats in fielding a full team in the second game against Checkmates. Schuebeck led the way - proving to be a good leadoff batter. Jerry Lee Brown was solid for Cats with 2 safe hits and another solid performance behind the mask.
It's not often that a grand slam home run is recorded in this grade, but Ashtyn Skipworth-Taylor, Cougars went down in the score book as having achieved this feat. Cougars held on for a thrilling one run win against Checkmates. Whilst Cougars had 2 seven run innings, Checkmates fell just one run short in the first innings to perhaps draw the game. Daniella DiGeronimo was the best of batters for Checkmates along with Bridie Ellis-Nunn who has made the transition into the higher grade. Tigers performed strongly against Cougars in the early game. Angel Griffiths for Tigers is getting stronger each time she takes the diamond a two bagger and a single - both to the outfield - good running to score two bases - a good lead off. Tigers Ariel Tee held the Cougars batters to only 4 runs, with Skipworth-Taylor proving strong with the bat.
- BEV ARGENT