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Brackettes, Hitmen win NPSA titles

They will represent New Providence in the BSF Round-Robin Championships
  • Zella Symonette posed with the MVP trophy after her Sigma Brackettes won the NPSA ladies title on Tuesday night. They defeated the Proper Care Pool Lady Sharks 11-1. TORRELL GLINTON

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: Oct 16, 2013

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Game and seven truly are the two best words in sports, as it was do or die for four teams in the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA) last night.  At the end of an exciting night of softball, it would be the Sigma Brackettes and the Annette’s Sporting Lounge Hitmen who would win the titles and march on to the Bahamas Softball Federation’s (BSF) National Round-Robin Championships, which will be held on the weekend of October 31 – November 3 right here in New Providence.

Brackettes 11, Sharks 1

After being bombarded on Saturday night, the Brackettes went back to their ace pitcher last night, and she turned in a superb performance to lead them past the Sharks and into round-robin championships.

Behind a strong pitching performance from veteran Ernestine Butler-Stubbs, the Brackettes blasted the Sharks, 11-1, to finish off the best-of-seven championship series four games to three, and win their second NPSA title in the past four years.

The Brackettes were determined that they were not going to fall prey to the Sharks again, after losing games five and six.  They took control of Game Seven with three runs in the top of the third inning, and they never looked back.

That proved to be more than enough cushion for Butler-Stubbs, and in support, the Brackettes continued to add to their run total with four in the fourth, another one in the sixth, and three more in the seventh.

An inside-the-parker by Ann Bullard gave the Brackettes an 8-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning, and the celebrations started even though the Sharks had two more innings to mount a possible comeback.  There would be no comeback on this night though, as Butler-Stubbs was reeling and dealing from the mound.

Butler-Stubbs gave up just five hits in all seven innings of work.  She got all four victories for the Brackettes in the series.

“I have to thank God for this victory, my teammates and my coaches, and of course our sponsor Sigma Management,” said Butler-Stubbs.  “We allowed this series to go to Game Seven, but I’m more than happy that we came out on top.  I told my team to focus on hitting the ball, and I will pitch us to victory.  The one run they got, they weren’t even supposed to get that.  Well they got it off one mistake, but I am happy.  We won convincingly, and I am happy.”

It would be the Brackettes’ savvy shortstop who would win the most valuable player (MVP) award though.  She finished 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored last night, and was 10-for-21 in the series with eight runs scored and eight RBIs.

The Brackettes got most of their production from the top of their line-up last night.  Lead-off hitter Bullard finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI, batting behind her Symonette was 2-for-4, and third place batter Shevette Taylor also finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs.

“We came out here tonight, and we showed them the type of team that we are,” said Brackettes’ Head Coach Mario Ford.  “We were able to put this winning team together.  That was our goal from day one.  Going into the round-robin, we just have to continue playing the way we know how to.  Hats off to ‘Bishop’ and the Sharks.  They were good, but we were the better team.  My girls played with heart.”

Sharks’ Head Coach Stephen ‘Bishop’ Beneby said that his team was simply flat last night, and it caused them.  Losing pitcher Alex Gabriel gave up 14 hits in seven innings, and the Rochea Morley scored their only run on a RBI grounder in the fifth.

“No excuses, we were just flat.  Hats off to the Brackettes.  They were the better team,” said Beneby.  “We weren’t aggressive like we were in the last game.  At times, it felt like we were just going through the motions.  We got beat tonight, but I felt like we had the better team.”

Beneby said he plans to step down as head coach after this season, allowing Spurgeon Johnson to take over next year. He said that there is a good chance that he will bring a junior team into the league next year.

As for the Sharks, after winning the pennant this year, they were looking to win their second NPSA title in the past three years last night, but it was not to be as the Brackettes showed up from the mound and at the plate to get the job done, and march on to the BSF round-robin championships.

Hitmen 5, Buccaneers 4

In a game that truly lived up to its billing, the Annette’s Sporting Lounge Hitmen plated two in the bottom of the sixth inning to glide past the Andre Gardiner Construction Buccaneers, 5-4, last night and win their first NPSA men’s title.

Buccaneers catcher Angelo Dillet jumped on the first pitch he saw from winning pitcher Alcott Forbes in the top of the fifth, and slapped a single up the middle to score two runs and tie the game at three, but the Hitmen came right back with the winning runs in the bottom half of that frame.  Martin Burrows Jr. hit a sacrifice fly to score a run for the Hitmen in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the second run came across off an overthrown ball to third base.

The Buccaneers only managed to get one of those runs back in the top of the seventh inning, as Forbes induced the final batter to ground out to first base.

Forbes yielded just three hits over seven innings and struck out nine batters.  He won all four games for the Hitmen in the best-of-seven series.

“Words can’t explain how we feel.  This is the first one, and it’s long overdue,” he said last night.  “We fought some hard battles with the Truckers and always got the runners-up spot.  The Buccaneers played a very tough series, but at the end of the day, you have to be a runner-up before you could be champions.  The round-robin is going to be a little tougher but I like our chances.  Some tough boys coming from Freeport, and tough boys coming from Abaco, but we’ll be ready to make a run at the national title.”

Deval Storr had a respectable game from the mound for the Buccaneers but still suffered the loss.  He yielded just four hits before being relieved by Thomas Davis in the bottom of the sixth inning.

From the plate, Forbes finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored.  MVP Jameko Sands had a 1-for-3 night with two RBIs.  For the series, the Hitmen clean-up hitter batted at a .440 clip, going 11-for-25 with one home-run, eight RBIs and five runs scored.

For the Buccaneers last night, lead-off batter Lamar Watkins finished 2-for-4, and Dillet had his two-run single in the top of the sixth.

The Bucs have no one to blame but themselves though, as they committed four crucial errors last night.  After trailing 3-1 for most of the game, they tied the game on Dillet’s two-run single in the top of the sixth, only to watch as the Hitmen surged ahead with two runs in the bottom of the sixth.

“I’m happy with the way my team played.  I felt as if the league took two games from us with poor officiating.  I don’t mind losing on the field, but it’s very frustrating when the officials take games away from you.  When the umpires have to be a part of the outcome, the sport will never grow,” said Buccaneers’ Head Coach Angelo Dillet Sr. last night.  “Other than that, mental errors caused two runs to score late in the game tonight, and you can’t make mental errors in a championship game when you have the two top teams in the league playing.  They will come back to haunt you, and that is exactly what happened to us tonight. Nevertheless, my team performed well.  I’m happy with how they performed.”

The pennant-winning Hitmen will now go on to represent New Providence in the BSF National Round-Robin Championships, which will be held at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex in New Providence.

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