‘Cats claw way to another title

Winning softball titles have become the norm for the Wildcats organization, so much so that veteran infielder Renee “Sunshine” Davis said she’s running out of fingers for the many rings she has.

The Sunshine Auto Wildcats sealed another New Providence Softball Association (NPSA) championship on Tuesday, finishing off the upstart Inventive Intellect Lady Warriors in a thrilling game five on the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. The Wildcats prevailed, 11-10, to win their third straight NPSA title, but only after scoring a couple of late runs in game five to stave off what would have been an improbable and gutsy comeback by the never-say-die Lady Warriors.

After erupting for seven runs in the bottom of the third inning to take what they figured to be an insurmountable 7-1 lead, the bewildered ‘Cats watched as the resilient Lady Warriors stormed back for eight runs in the top of the fourth. The Wildcats scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at nine, and then went ahead for good with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Lady Warriors only managed one run the rest of the way as the ‘Cats held on for dear life, clinching their third straight NPSA women’s title. They won the best-of-seven series four games to one.

“When it’s time to dance, they call on me. I’m the fire starter in this league,” said Davis who came off the bench to get a huge RBI (run batted in) hit for the Wildcats in the bottom of the third. The veteran infielder said she now has 17 titles in the NPSA, and has no plans of slowing down any time soon. “When you play with puppies, they lick your mouth. We gave them one, but they got too biggity and presumptuous saying that they are going to backdoor sweep the ‘Cats. Never! When you back a cat up against a wall, it comes out clawing! Meeooow! They can’t beat us! No team out here could beat us,” she exclaimed.

Thela Johnson went the distance for the Wildcats, picking up the win from the mound. She gave up nine hits and struck out five batters. At the plate, she finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored, picking up the player of the game award. Mia Turner suffered the loss for the Lady Warriors. She pitched all seven innings, yielding 11 hits and striking out just two batters.

“It feels so good to win another championship. They killed me off, saying I was dead but here I am a champion again. At the end of the night, the Wildcats are on top again. I wonder what they will say now,” said Johnson. “They had a good comeback in the game tonight, but I knew that we were batting last so we would have the last say. We just needed to get some hits and some runs to get back in the game, and that’s what we did. We just needed a fire starter tonight, and we got that.”

Anthony Bullard has managed the Wildcats’ organization for more than a decade and has certainly had his share of island and national titles. He said he’s just thrilled to be on top again, and is looking forward to going after four in a row next year.

“I told them before the game tonight that this is no time to relax,” he said. “The other night, we thought we would win and they came out and took it from us. That team doesn’t give up so we had to come out here and play like we’re capable of playing, and that’s what we did. They got one and that’s it. I wasn’t taking any chances tonight. One way or the other, we were coming out victorious tonight.”

Wildcats’ sponsor Deanza “Sonny” Cox, proprietor of Sunshine Auto Sales, said that there was never a doubt that his team would come out on top.

“I’d like to say thanks to the Wildcats’ organization. This is the most beautiful organization that I have been a part of. They welcomed me, and when I came on they showed me love and I showed them love in return. We love each other,” he said. “There was no doubt that we were going to win. It’s written on my car, it’s written on my shirt and what is written is written. I said we were going to three-peat and we did. This is a dynasty.”

Cox is one of the more recognized and committed supporters of local sports in the country, and is one of those sports figures along with others such as Georgio “Bommer George” Armbrister and Paul Smith of Electro Telecom Ltd., who never get their just due and appreciation for the funds they throw behind sports development in the country.

He gave credit to the Lady Warriors for putting up a good fight.

Having split with the Wildcats during the regular season, including a game in which they stopped them after four innings, the Lady Warriors came into the championship series against their rival quite confident. They had aspirations of winning the title. Even after going down 3-0 in the series, they believed that as long as they play like they were capable of playing, they could come back in the series and shock the local softball community.

After winning game four to avoid a sweep, they came out flat in game five, falling behind 7-1 early in the game, but still they never gave up.

“We have the heart of a warrior,” said veteran infielder Melinda Bastian. “Tonight was better than we played the whole series. We just had one or two errors that caused us, but overall we had a much higher level of play tonight, and we are pleased with that. The Wildcats didn’t beat us – we beat ourselves this whole series. There were too much mental errors this whole series in crucial times. Overall, we are pleased with the season. We know that we are a team that could win it all. We just have to come back next season and work even harder.”

Larikah Russell, Michelle Moss and Tyrice Davis all went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats in the clincher on Tuesday. Moss drove in one and scored three times, and both Russell and Davis had two RBIs each and scored one run each. Jeanette Hilton finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored for the Lady Warriors. Keesha Pratt was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored, and Sheryl Evans finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Both teams will now prepare for the Bahamas Softball Federation’s (BSF) Inter Island All-Star Classic which is set for the weekend of November 1-3 on the Banker’s Field at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. Already, five men’s teams and seven women’s teams from around the country have confirmed participation.

The BSF is substituting the round-robin nationals for an all-star initiative this year, geared around bringing the best players from the various islands of The Bahamas together. In the absence of the various men’s and women’s champions from the islands, all-star teams will be assembled. The capital island of New Providence is the only island that will be represented by club teams as the champions and runners-up in the men’s and women’s divisions from the NPSA will take part.

All proceeds from the gate will go toward hurricane relief for those inhabitants affected by the passing of Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of September.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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