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LITTLE LEAGUE MAJORS SOFTBALL - Underdog Racers win Little League title
Team finished at .500 during regular season, but got hot at end.
The Racers defeated the Commotion 6-5 in the Little League Majors softball championship game Friday at Strawberry Hill Park.
The Commotion finished in first place during the regular season, going 13-3 while the Racers finished in third place at 8-8, but won their last five regular season games.
The Racers defeated the second place Ice 17-15 in a semifinal playoff game.
Down 12-4 in the top of the sixth inning, the Racers scored eight runs to tie the game before prevailing in extra innings.
In the championship game, the Racers scored first with two runs in the top of the first inning.
With one out, Ali Blake walked and took second on an infield single by Briana Ledoux. Both runners moved up on a passed ball.
Erin Kinney then delivered an infield single to score Blake while ReAnna Rapada grounded out to second base, scoring Ledoux.
The Commotion got one back in the bottom of the first.
Antonia Papajani led off with a single, then Isabelle Staff laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Papajani to second.
Grace Deery-Schmitt followed with a single to score Papajani.
The Racers got two back in the second, as Quinn Erickson led off with a walk.
Sarah Muir followed with a fly ball to third base, which was dropped for an error.
Elisabeth Nason and Lilia Paul both walked, forcing in Erickson.
Muir scored when the Commotions catcher threw down to first base attempting to pick off Paul, and the ball got by the first baseman.
The Racers added their fifth run in the top of the third inning, as Blake led off with a triple to the fence in left field.
After a fly ball out to the first baseman, Erin Kinney hit a single to right field to score Blake.
But the Commotion battled back in the bottom of the third to tie the game up.
With one out, Katerina Frickleton reached first safely on an error. The next batter struck out, but Evyn Newman followed with an infield single, and Rosalie Pisano walked to load the bases.
Papajani came up and delivered with a single to score two runs.
The Racers pitcher then gave up walks to Isabelle Staff, Deery-Schmitt and Hana Newman to force in two more runs to tie the game.
The Racers brought in Rapada, who struck out the first batter she faced to end the inning.
The Racers scored the winning run in the very next inning.
Paul led off the inning with a walk, fouling off several pitches to stay alive and get on base.
Maddie Ketcheside laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Paul to second, then Leah Mulholland followed with a ground out to the third baseman, with Paul alertly taking third on the throw and sliding in just ahead of the tag.
After a walk to Leah Nordberg, Blake followed with a hard infield hit to third base that scored Paul to take the lead.
Briana Ledoux followed with a walk to load the bases and put some more runs on the board, but Antonia Papajani made an outstanding running catch on a Erin Kinney fly ball for the third out.
It was close as she ran into her right fielder but she managed to hold onto the ball to preserve a one run game.
The Commotion attempted to answer in the bottom of the fifth inning, but could not score due to two outstanding defensive plays.
Megan Anderson led off the inning with a single, but Nason then caught a long fly ball to centerfield off the bat of Katerina Frickleton for the first out.
Alex Bredy then hit a fly ball down the first base line toward right field, but Paul, playing at first base, quickly backpedaled and made a jumping catch while running backward to rob Bredy of a hit.
Newman followed with her second base hit of the game to put runners on the corners, then Rosalie Pisano crushed a line drive down the third base line that initially appeared it would drop and score both runs.
However, Rapada who moved to third after a pitching change made the play of the game by catching the ball with a tremendous leaping backhanded stab, robbing Pisano of at least a double and preserving the Racers one run lead.
The Racers failed to score in the top of the sixth inning, and the Commotion led off the bottom of the sixth with the top of their order.
Racers pitcher Brianna Ledoux got the first two outs on a groundout to second base and a strikeout.
But Deery-Schmitt singled to deep short to keep hope alive for the Commotion.
She stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position. However, the next batter hit one back to the pitcher, and Ledoux threw her out for the games final out.
Ledoux went four innings for the Racers, giving up only one run on five base hits, all singles. Rapada faced the minimum four batters in an inning and a third of work, striking out three.
Newman pitched for the Commotion and gave up two runs on three hits in her four innings of work, striking out seven.
Grace Deery-Schmitt worked a scoreless fourth inning for the Commotion.
The Commotions manager is John Deery-Schmitt, and its coaches are John Devlin and Steve Newman.
This was the third straight appearance in the championship game for the Commotion with John at the helm.
The Racers manager is Tony Gaspich and coaches are Jay Kinney and Bev Blake.
The Racers were an expansion team this year with only three players with prior majors experience.
This was the fifth championship game for Gaspich, who has managed in four title bouts in softball and one in baseball, but its his first league championship.
The Bainbridge Island Little League All-Stars were announced last week.
They will play in the district tournament at Strawberry Field for the second straight year.
The teams are:
Softball 11-12 Manager: Deidre Raben. Players: Katie Raben, Emily Schneider, Faith Campbell, Erin Kinney, Maureen McCormick, Leah Nordberg, Maddie Stevenson, Caitlin Maguire, Tara Wilford, Kyra Easley, Lauren Sheehan, Erin Jones.
Softball 11-12 Manager: Jennifer Easley. Players: Ali Blake, Ashley Hufnagle, Bri Ledoux, Kayla Estes, Lauren Easley, ReAnna Rapada, Kelsey Ferguson, Annalise Ricco, Rachael Brown, Lilia Paul, Sarah Muir, Alexandra Davis.
Softball 9-10 Manager: Stew Estes. Players: Kristin Bond, Roxanne Edenholm, Julie Fiekes, Deahna King, Hannah Lipka, Abby Palmer, Gabby Smith, Natalya Niehaus, Riley Gregoire, Alyssa Estes, Natalie Ackerley, Catherine Luir, Emma Lindsay, Allison Snare.