#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#THE Sunshine Auto Lady Wildcats had their hands full with the R&B Lady Operators, but they showed why they are still considered the best team in the women’s New Providence Softball Association.
#In game one of their best-of-five championship series on Saturday night in the Bankers Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, the Lady Wildcats held off the Lady Operators 7-5 to take the opener.
#Game two of the series will be played at 7pm on Tuesday with game three on Thursday.
#Winning pitcher Thela Stevens helped her own cause with a 1-for-3 night with three runs batted in, while scoring a run.
#Third sacker Lynette Kelly was 2-for-3 with a RBI, shortstop Larikah Russell was 1-for-2 with a RBI and a run scored, left fielder Tyrice Davis was 1-for-3 with a run and scratcher Aaliyah Ferguson was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
#How she feels about the team’s performance in Game 1?
#“I am elated about the mindset and the performance of my team going into game 1,” Russell said.
#“There was a lot of excitement and appreciation leading up to tonight, but we were able to channel that energy and nerves positively.
#“Our game plan was to be aggressive, swing at strikes and control the middle of the plate. In my view, I felt like we executed that extremely well and our defence was strong as expected.”
#Despite giving up 10 hits, Stevens struck out four batters to outduel Diva Burrows, who had a pretty good night on the mound with a seven-hitter and three strikeouts.
#It was a night for Sunshine Auto as proprietor and Lady Wildcats’ sponsor Deanza ‘Sonny’ Cox hosted a charity night on behalf of women battling breast cancer with proceeds going to the Sister Sister Organisation.
#There were also a lot of prizes given away as another sponsor Bommer George joined in the festive occasion.
#On the field, the Lady Wildcats took the spotlight as well, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first inning as Stevens highlighted the attack with a three-run home run.
#That was followed by an RBI double from Kelly and a run-producing fielder’s choice from first sacker Crystal Finley.
#Sunshine Auto added two more runs in the fifth with Russell coming through with a RBI sacrifice fly.
#The Lady Operators, however, made it close when they responded with two runs in the third on first sacker Jeanette Hilton’s RBI double for a 5-2 deficit. They came up with another run in the sixth on an error that got right fielder Francheska McBridge on base.
#She eventually scored on another miscue to cut the deficit to 7-3.
#And in the seventh, R&A put two more runs on the scoreboard, thanks to catcher Brianna Knowles’ one-out RBI triple and McBridge’s RBI groundout.
#The Lady Wildcats were just two runs ahead of them every time they made a run at it.
#Knowles finished with a 2-for-4 night at the plate with a RBI and a run scored, Hilton was 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored and left fielder Sheryl Evans was 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Lady Operators, who will have to regroup for game two on Tuesday.
#“For game two, people should prepare to see us win again once we remain focused on our goals, improve upon mistakes made in the first game and be prepared to have fun,” Russell told the Lady Operators.