Cubs Outlast Braves To Claim Major Softball Title
In a thrilling, wild conclusion to the Major Girls softball season, the Vintage Abstract Cubs claimed the Rockaway Little League title with a 19-16, extra inning victory over the FC Gerlach Braves in game three of the Championship Series. They say pitching and defense win championships. That certainly seemed the case in the first two games of the series.
In the opener last Tuesday, the Braves’ Morgan Mack pitched what may have been the finest outing of the year, a complete game 12-4 win. Mack scattered four hits over the first five innings as the Braves built a 12-1 lead. Emma Knox and Meredith Connelly were sharp as the Braves’ keystone combo. Melissa Piccone and Ginna Davan chucked well for the Cubs but their mates’ glovework wasn’t up to the Braves’ standard.
With their backs against the wall Friday night, the Cubs matched their ace, Renee Simos, against the Braves ace, Meghan King. It was a 1-1 game after three innings. Simos, backed by Morgan Koenig (2 assists) and Jenny Fahy (5 putouts) on the right side of the infield, limited the Braves to two hits. Meanwhile, King posted seven strikeouts.
The Braves appeared to grab control of the game in the fourth, sending nine girls to the plate and taking a 5-1 lead. But, as was their trademark all season, the Cubs bounced right back. Fueled by nine singles, the Cubs surged ahead 7-5.
It appeared the Braves would respond in the fifth inning, loading the bases with none out against a tiring Simos (a.k.a. Ms. Clutch). After a long visit from Coach Jim Durante, Simos asked for one more batter. She took three. A popup and two strikeouts kept the lead intact. After Kelly Davan extended the score to 8-5 with a steal of home, Fahy slammed the door with a 1-2-3 sixth inning to earn the save.
In Saturday’s finale, both teams’ pitching and defense wilted under the 90 degree sun. The Cubs raced out to an 8-0 lead but with both teams playing fast and loose, their advantage was trimmed to 13-10 after three innings. King chipped in two near-perfect innings in relief as the Braves went out in front 16-13. Once again the Cubs’ backs were against the wall entering the last inning. Once again they responded.
With one out, Lauren Peters – who reached base in each of her last nine plate appearances – singled. Singles by Michelle Wrynn, Brittany Connelly, Kelly Davan and Ginna Davan pushed across the tying runs. Now the Cubs had to hold in the bottom of the frame. It didn’t look likely as the Braves loaded the bases with one out. Miraculously, two outs on the base paths prevented the regular season champs from pushing across the winning run.
The Cubs seized control of the game once and for all. Katie King led off with a walk and scored what proved to be the winning run. Simos and Peters also crossed the plate, forging the final score of 19-16. Winning pitcher Ginna Davan was overpowering in a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. The Cubs rejoiced immediately and deservedly.
Diamond Dust: Cubs’ catcher Melissa Piccione, who played the entire sweltering hot game in the tools of ignorance, had a crucial caught stealing in the bottom of the sixth that ultimately saved the game. In game two of the finals, Chelsea Filippi scored what proved to be the winning run.
For the Cubs, post-season honors went to Outstanding Player Fahy, co- MVPs Simos and Ginna Davan, Wrynn (Most Improved) and Lauren Durante (Sportsmanship). Lauren was a positive force on the Cubs’ bench throughout the playoffs despite being sidelined with a broken finger.
The Cubs’ Kardiac Kids came from behind in all three playoff victories; Katie King scored the winning run in two of those games ... Lisa Pellegrini played a flawless second base in the Cubs’ semifinal victory ….
Coach Paul King is pleased to go back into retirement with the Cubs as his final team. They are a fine group of girls.