Game two in both series set for tomorrow night
Softball fans filled the Bankers Field on Saturday night as the C&S Hitmen and the Sunshine Auto Wildcats got their title defense off on the right foot, as they won their respective division’s first game in the New Providence Softball Association’s (NPSA) best-of-five championship series.
The games were initially set to happen on Thursday last week, but inclement weather pushed it back.
After being off for almost a month, the women’s division defending champions and pennant winners, the Wildcats, played a full game and held off the second-seeded RAB Operators 7-5.
The Hitmen, the defending men’s division champion and pennant winners, took care of the Cyber Tech Blue Marlins 3-1 to start their title defense on the right note.
The Hitmen and the Marlins used one pitcher each in their seven-inning clash. In the end, the Hitmen’s Edney “The Heat” Bethel got 16 strikeouts while the Blue Marlins’ Thomas Davis finished with seven strikeouts. There were some great defense and infield plays as the game lasted under two hours. Bethel gave up four hits while Davis seceded four hits.
Manager of C&S Hitmen Darren Stevens was happy that they went up 1-0 as he spoke highly of his team’s pitching and defense.
“Pitching is very imperative to the game and when you can strike out and minimize baserunners, it puts less pressure on the offense. The defense was up to par and we made the plays when the ball was put in play,” Stevens said.
The Marlins got on the scoreboard when catcher Garfield Bethel, who finished the game 1-for-3, got his only hit at the top of the second inning. He showed some great base running to score the only run for the Blue Marlins.
The Hitmen jumped on the scoreboard in the second inning when rightfielder Edron Knowles, who went 0-for-2 and leftfielder Martin Burrows who finished 2-for-3, came home to give their team a 2-1 lead.
The next three innings saw both teams going scoreless. A substitute in the bottom of the sixth inning by the Hitmen paid off. They brought in pinch hitter Rudy Fox and swapped out Philip Johnson. Fox wasted no time as he showed that he was ready. He hit the ball over the centerfield to get the triple. A pass ball brought home the pinch runner as the Hitmen secured a run that gave them some room to breathe. It was 3-1 in Hitmen’s favor as the game went to the top of the seventh inning.
The Blue Marlins came up empty in their final try with Edney Bethel picking up two more strikeouts.
Stevens is looking forward to seeing consistency especially at the plate and strong pitching from his team in game two. The second game that gets underway at 9 p.m. tomorrow.
The Wildcats’ coach Michael Moss was happy with the win but did not like his team’s execution. He felt the long layover might have had a part to play in the ending.
“I am happy we got the victory but I am not pleased in our play. We were sloppy and made too many mistakes but luckily we got the lead and was able to hold it,” Moss said.
The Wildcats poured in five runs in the bottom of the first inning that got them off to a great start. This came after holding the Operators scoreless at the top of the first inning. The game was looking like the Wildcats was going to dominate it.
The Operators eventually scored for the night at the top of the third inning. They scored two runs as the Wildcats led 5-2 after three innings.
The Wildcats could not get on the scoreboard for three straight innings. The bottom of the fifth inning saw them scoring two more runs to go up 7-2. They looked well on the way to a comfortable win.
A resilient Operators put the Wildcats on the ropes a little in the sixth inning by capitalizing on their fielding errors. At the end of the sixth inning, the score was 7-3. The top of the seventh inning saw the Operators’ bats working as they scored two runs but that was all they scored as the slight ray of hope dimmed away as the Wildcats held on for the 7-5 victory.
The Wildcats pitcher Thela Stevens had four strikeouts and went 1-for-3. Looking ahead, Stevens said she hopes they keep their defense tight and bat better.
“I hope we can cut down on the errors some more and hit the ball. We are going to be batting first and once we get the runs in and the get the flow going throughout the game and not just in the beginning, we should be good,” Stevens said.
Moss shared the same sentiment as his pitcher as he thought their batting, though aggressive, was a little off.
Game two in this series gets underway tomorrow at 7 p.m.