#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#AFTER taking a break for the National Heroes Day holiday weekend, the New Providence Softball Association is all set to begin its 2022 best-of-five championship series in both the men and women’s divisions.
#The championships will begin on Thursday night at the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex with the defending champions Sunshine Auto Wildcats taking on the RAB Operators in the ladies’ series, while the defending champions C&S Hitmen will entertain the Cyber Tech Blue Marlins in the men’s encounter.
#League president Dwayne Stevens said just as exciting as the regular season was, they are anticipating a lot of fireworks for the finals, which should come down to a slugfest in the ladies’ series and a pitcher’s duel in the men.
#“I expect some very good series, especially in the men where we have two great pitchers on both teams,” Stevens said. “Thomas Davis and Eugene Pratt, the up and coming young stars (for the Blue Marlins) will be taking on the veteran crew of Edney ‘the Heat’ Bethel and Alcott Forbes (for the Hitmen).
#“I think it will be a pitching showdown, which should be very competitive in that men’s series.”
#As for the women, while Thela Stevens has been the workhorse for the Wildcats and Brendia Ferguson has carried the load for the Operators, Stevens said both teams have a lot of lumber, so it’s anticipated that Sunshine Auto and RAB will engage in some high scoring matches.
#“They could still come down to pitching in the ladies series as well because the Operators have some pitching to contend with,” Stevens said. “But both teams hit the ball very well, so I believe they will be scoring a lot of runs in that series.”
#While game one is set for Thursday, game two will be played on Saturday. The ladies will play the opener at 7pm, followed by the men in the nightcap at 8.30pm. They will return for game three next Thursday and if necessary, game four will be played on Saturday.
#Should they go to a fifth and deciding game, Stevens said they will announce then the time and date for the match or matches to be played.
#The Wildcats, managed by Anthony Bullard, clinched their berth in the ladies’ final over the Johnson’s Lady Truckers and the Operators, managed by Kelly Smith, earned their ticket as they eliminated the University of the Bahamas Lady Mingoes.
#In the men’s playoffs, the Hitmen, managed by Darren Stevens, ousted the Chances Mighty Mitts and the Blue Marlins, managed by Charlie Rolle, got by the Atlantis Titans. The NPSA last played in 2019 before sports in the country was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
#Without a national championship to be played for the winning teams, Stevens said the NPSA is gearing up to participate in the proposed Bahamas Softball Federation’s National All-Star Classic during the second weekend in November at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex.
#“As you know, New Providence is the only island association which had a full season. Grand Bahama and Exuma just started some fast pitch and slowpitch games,” Stevens said. “So what they are proposing is that each island send an All-Star team to represent the island.
#“After that, the NPSA will put on a tournament and we’re inviting teams from the islands to come in and participate against teams from the NPSA. So we are looking at having softball played through the rest of the year.”
#The NPSA, however, is expected to make a decision on whether or not they will take advantage of fielding two teams in both the men and women’s divisions for the BSF’s All-Star Classic, which would include the NPSA champions, or just select an All-Star team to represent the NPSA.