The St. John’s College Giants senior girls got revenge on the defending champions, St. Augustine’s College (SAC) Big Red Machine, when they edged them out 5-4 in the decisive game three of the 2019 Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) best-of-three softball championships on Friday. The Giants won the series two games to one to claim their first-ever BAISS senior girls softball title, and it was retribution for a loss to SAC in last year’s championship series.
The game was played on the Bankers Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, in front of loud fans of the Giants who celebrated with them after they clinched the title.
After the Giants won the first game of the series, 6-5, SAC tied the series with a huge 21-3 victory on Wednesday. Giants’ Head Coach Charma Johnson said she and the girls had a meeting and she told them “no pressure”. She said she told them that as long as they come out and play the way they are capable of playing, they would come out victorious, and they did.
“After the loss on Wednesday, I sat down with my team. At the end of the day, I told them that I can put you anywhere on the field but at the end of the day you have to want it,” Johnson said. “Today, they went out there and I told them no pressure, one batter at a time, one pitch at a time and one out at a time and the ladies did it.”
In the final game, SAC scored first, getting on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. They crossed home plate twice to take a 2-0 lead heading into bottom of the first inning. The Giants responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning.
In the top of the second inning, SAC put runners on base but the Giants did a good job in preventing them from scoring multiple runs.
The Big Red Machine only got one run in the inning when center fielder Raevyn Bethel crossed home plate. They took a 3-2 lead.
The Giants responded with the bottom of their line-up up to bat. They took the lead when second baseman Christina Richardson and left fielder Brendia Edgecombe crossed home plate, giving them a 4-3 lead.
Coach Johnson took out ace pitcher Laurel Rolle, as it looked like she had an ailing shoulder. Richardson replaced her on the mound in the top of the third inning.
“I saw her struggling. She told me her shoulder was hurting but she was okay but I had another pitcher, and with her pitching lobs and I know SAC was hitting on Laurel all day so it slowed down their hitting. I took one inning to rest her shoulder,” Johnson said.
The top of the third inning saw SAC’s shortstop Jocelyn Chriswell score the tying run as the game headed into the bottom of the third inning tied at four.
Once again it was their tail end of St. John’s line-up who cane through for them. Shortstop Alissa Cumberbatch crossed home plate to put her team ahead 5-4.
After the rest in the third inning, Rolle came back on the mound in the top of the fourth inning for the Giants. She frustrated SAC batters as they failed to get a hit or put anyone on base against her. Rolle retired the side in order in the top of the fifth, and St. John’s held on to the 5-4 lead to win the game.
Rolle, a grade 12 student, said it was a good decision by her coach to give her arm a rest.
“My coach felt the need to take me out of the game – good decision. I know I had to come back and finish the game and that is what I did,” Rolle said. “I came to St. John’s in grade 10. The first year, we only won one game. In the second year we went from winning one game to going to the championship. This year we had couple losses but we stuck it out. It is my senior year and I just wanted to take it home. I couldn’t let SAC carry it again.”
Coach Johnson said she developed this team to compliment Rolle’s stellar pitching.
“After last year, it was rough for me. Coming back, I didn’t even have a field to practice on, so we started practicing on rocks. I told the girls this is Laurel’s last year and I built basically a junior team around her. I told them we were going to get far after we played SAC the first time,” Johnson said. “I told my girls that we are not sending any trophy to Bernard Road. All the other schools did it so we had to deny them. That put pressure on us but they stayed composed and did what they had to do,” added Johnson.
SAC had four teams in the BAISS softball championships but lost all four titles as Queen’s College won both the junior and senior boys titles and Charles W. Saunders took the junior girls title.
Coach Johnson said she is looking for St. John’s to successfully defend their title next year despite this being Rolle’s final year.
SAC’s Head Coach Anastasia Moultrie said her team made too many errors.
“It didn’t go as expected. You have to come and be prepared mentally and physically for the game. The game is hits, runs and errors and we made the majority of the errors today. That came back and haunted us,” she said.
The Big Red Machine were shut out in all four divisions this year after winning two of the four titles last year.
Coach Moultrie said that SAC will be back stronger next year.
The C.W. Saunders Cougars swept SAC 2-0 in the junior girls championship. In the junior boys championship, the Queen’s College Comets defeated SAC in both games of that series, and the Comets senior boys swept SAC two games to none in that series.
Next up on the BAISS calendar is basketball that is set to get started on Wednesday, November 20.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism