The Navy Blues are the inaugural winners of the Softball Victoria Women’s Invitational following a stunning 13-1 Grand Final victory over the Black Storm at the Northern District Softball Association on Wednesday night.
In somewhat of a surprise result given the Storm had sat on top of the ladder for the majority of the tournament, the Navy Blues secured the title on the back of an incredible batting display when the stakes were at their highest.
Before the game, both coaches gave their teams the advice to keep doing what they have been doing during the regular rounds and to concentrate on their strengths; defence for the Black Storm and offence for the Navy Blues.
The Navy Blues began proceedings in the batter’s box with Marina Walker first up to the plate and taking a big swing at the first pitch, showing some early intent. The Navy Blues batting line worked well together to advance each other around the bases, with Alys Young scoring the first run of the Grand Final. Solid pitching from Black Storm pitcher, Dale Stocker, kept the Navy Blues to a solitary run from their first at bat.
Kat Laemmle for the Black Storm signaled her early intent by swinging hard, but Nicky Martin was up to the task, striking her out. Millie Mercuri showed her speed getting to first on a push to shortstop and then stealing second. Some patient batting from Narisse Privitera resulted in a walk after a good battle with the Navy Blues pitcher. That struggle continued with the following batters, but Martin prevailed and the first innings finished 1-0 in favour of the Navy Blues.
The second innings was dominated by both defences with both teams securing three straight outs. The third innings opened with the Navy Blues showing some clear intent and giving Stocker no respect at all, as they swung freely and made contact after contact to pile on eight runs with the Black Storm clearly rattled – possibly for the first time in the competition.
The Black Storm needed to settle and despite showing plenty of patience in the batter’s box and securing a couple of walks, they did not seem able to find that big hit that could send runners home. Unable to wrestle back some of the momentum, the Black Storm trailed the Navy Blues 9-0 after the third innings.
At the start of the fourth, the Black Storm were forced to make some positional changes in the field and the Navy Blues were looking to continue where they left off in the third with their confidence high. The Black Storm were not about to give up and unfortunately came out on the wrong side of some very close calls. Some good team batting saw the Navy Blues put on an additional four runs, leaving the Black Storm an enormous task to overcome in the bottom of the fourth.
Nicole Irvine stepped up to the plate and brightened the outlook for the Black Storm and for many of the crowd watching the game with a first up triple through the cones. While the Black Storm managed to get Irvine across the plate to register a run, they were unable to muster the fight back the crowd were hoping for as the Navy Blues finished with a dominant 13-1 victory.
Congratulations to both teams on a terrific game, played in a fantastic spirit.
Stay tuned to the Softball Victoria website for the announcement of individual player awards and the Team of the Tournament.
Congratulations to the Navy Blues who are the 2018 Softball Victoria Women's Invitational champions! ??Check out the…
Image: Change Of Focus Photography