It was not quite the start that the defending women’s champions in the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA), the Sunshine Auto Wildcats, wanted, but it was a victory nonetheless as they pulled away in the bottom of the sixth inning to win 10-5 over the Inventive Intellect Lady Warriors on Saturday night on the Bankers Field, at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. The win gave the Wildcats a one game to none lead in their best-of-seven championship series.
In the late game, the C&S Enterprise Hitmen took down the defending men’s champions, the Commando Security Truckers, 6-4, in game one of their best-of-seven championship series.
All four teams will be in action tonight with the Lady Warriors and the Truckers look to even up their respective series. The men play the early game at 7 p.m. and the women get cracking at 8.30 p.m.
Hitmen 6, Truckers 4
This game saw some great pitching on the mound from both starting pitchers, Alcott Forbes of the Hitmen and the Truckers’ Thomas Davis. The game came down to costly errors by the Truckers in the sixth inning.
Forbes finished the game with seven strikeouts and gave up five hits. For Davis, he finished with 11 strikeouts and six hits in the loss.
“It is always important to get the first win. It gives you some sort of leeway. You can relax and bring the momentum into the next game. We control the momentum now because we are ahead,” said Forbes.
At the end of the first inning, the game was deadlocked at two. By the end of the second inning, Forbes had three strikeouts and his defense came up with some huge plays behind him. He said he slightly pulled his hamstring in the first inning, but played through it.
Davis came up with three strikeouts and his defense was strong in the first two innings.
In the top of the third inning, right fielder Winston Seymour, who finished the game 1-for-3 with a run scored, and catcher Garfield Bethel who finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored, punished the Hitmen for making untimely errors. They scored to put the defending champions in the driver’s seat, up 4-2.
In the bottom in the third inning, Davis struck out three consecutive batters.
The tide changed in the fourth inning for the Hitmen. Right fielder Courtney Smith who finished the game 1-for-2, picked up two runs batted in (RBIs). They were his only two RBIs of the game. He got a hit to left field and brought home left fielder Martin Burrows and third baseman Philip Johnson. Burrows finished the game 1-for-3 with one run scored and two RBIs. Johnson went 1-for-3 and scored one run.
Those two runs brought the Hitmen even with the Truckers at four. Both teams looked to get the lead.
It was the Hitmen who took the lead when they scored two runs in the sixth inning. They capitalized off the Truckers’ errors in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pinch runner D’Kyle Rolle crossed the plate first and shortstop Dino Sweeting scored the second run of that inning and the Hitmen’s sixth of the night.
The Hitmen went up 6-4, a lead they never relinquished as the Truckers were unable to get going in the top of the seventh inning.
Forbes said he knows that he and the Hitmen cannot take the defending champions lightly, especially after they came back from a 0-3 hole to snatch the championship from them last year.
Forbes was the winning pitcher on Saturday night, and Davis was the losing pitcher.
Wildcats 10, Lady Warriors 5
Sunshine Auto Wildcats’ second baseman Michelle Moss was named as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of this game for her stellar performance on the night. She went 3-for-4, scored two runs and picked up two RBIs. She was a home-run short of the cycle.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. The Lady Warriors got on the scoreboard with three key runs in the top of the fourth inning and the Wildcats failed to score in the bottom half of the fourth. The Wildcats went into the fifth inning with a slight 4-3 lead.
Some stingy defense from the Wildcats’ infield in the top of the fifth inning proved to be one of the turning points of the game. They were instrumental in preventing the Lady Warriors from scoring.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Wildcats got on the scoreboard as starting pitcher Thela Johnson crossed home plate. Second baseman Ruthann Simms was awarded with an RBI.
The Wildcats led 5-3 after the fifth inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Lady Warriors tied the game at five.
The defending champions had to dig deep to shake off the Lady Warriors who would not go away and scored five runs in the sixth inning to pull away from the Lady Warriors, taking a 10-5 lead.
Johnson was tagged with the win and Brendia Ferguson was the losing pitcher. Johnson had five strikeouts and gave up five hits. Ferguson had just one strikeout.