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Saints Win First Women's Major Softball National Title

Aug 14 - The St. Louis Saints captured their first ever Women's Major Softball National Championship on Sunday with a 9-1 victory over the Bloomington (IL) Lady Hearts at DeLuca Hall of Fame Field in in Stratford, CT.

The Saints advanced to the Championship Game by sweeping through the double-elimination bracket without a loss, including a 10-3 win over the Nook 23 Gold (PA) in the Winner's Bracket Final on Saturday night.

Bloomington moved into the title game by outlasting the Nook 23 Gold in the Loser's Bracket Final Sunday morning in an all-time classic matchup, 3-2, in 15 innings. St. Louis also defeated the Lady Hearts in the Winner's Bracket Semifinals, 6-4, on Saturday afternoon.

Chelsea Ross (2-0 in WMS Bracket Play), picked up the win with a four-hit, complete game performance. She struck out nine batters en route to earning the Joan Joyce Award, handed out to the tournament's Most Outstanding Pitcher.

The Saints, who scored 60 runs in six tournament games, jumped up early on the Lady Hearts with four runs in the top of the first.

Bloomington starter Ali Domkuski retired the first two Saints, before Sammey Bunch reached on a fielding error. Madi Norman followed and singled to left-center, sending Bunch to third. Norman took second on the relay throw. Bailey Lange also came through with a single to left-center, bringing Bunch and Norman home for a 2-0 lead.

Lange stole second and came home on a base hit down the left-field line by Ross, giving the Saints a 3-0 margin. Ashley Anderson singled to left to push Ross to second, which prompted a pitching change. Sarah Finck came on in relief of Domkuski, but the rally continued, as Courtney Krodinger delivered the team's fifth-straight single to plate Ross for a 4-0 advantage.

The Saints tacked on two more tallies in the top of the second, again causing the damage with two away. Brittney Krodinger was hit by a pitch with one out, and after a grounder to short produced the second out of the inning, Bunch doubled to the fence in left-center to score Krodinger. Norman followed and drilled another double to the fence in the left-center gap, pushing Bunch across for a commanding 6-0 score.

After both teams traded scoreless innings in the third, Finck posted another scoreless frame in the top of the fourth for the Lady Hearts.

The Lady Hearts had their best chance at a comeback in the home fourth, when Haley Ginger doubled to left with one out. Tasha Alexander grounded back to Ross, and Ginger sprinted to third on the throw to first. Finck came through with a single up the middle to score Ginger, narrowing the hole to 6-1. Riley Phipps followed with a single to left, but Ross struck out the next batter to thwart the rally.

Norman singled to right to begin the bottom of the fifth and moved to second on a throwing error after a fly out to center. Ross reached on a base hit up the middle to put runners on the corners with one out, before Norman broke for home on a grounder to first by Anderson. The throw on Anderson's fielder's choice came home, but Norman slid in safely for a 7-1 lead (photo). Ross moved to second on the play, but was soon forced out at third on a fielder's choice by Courtney Krodinger.

With two outs in the fifth, Rachel Donald singled up the middle to bring home two more runs, closing out the scoring at 9-1.

Ross would not allow another run the rest of the way, forever securing her spot in the WMS annals. She finished the contest with three hits to go along with the dominant pitching performance.

Madi Norman was named the Micki Stratton Award recipient as the WMS Tournament MVP, as she finished the Nationals with a .500 batting average and two home runs. She also won the Pat Dufficy Award, given to the Home Run Queen of the tourney. Nikki Cuccio of the New York City Havoc also hit two home runs in bracket play, but in case of a tie, the award is given to the player whose team finishes higher in the final standings.

St. Louis manager Ed Martz won his first ever Women's Major National Championship after 63 years in softball, to go along with an ASA Class A division National Championship the Saints won in 1990.

In addition to Ross (pitcher) and first baseman Norman (utility pick), other Saints named to the All-WMS Tournament team were Payton Staggs (second base), Brittney Krodinger (third base), Sammey Bunch (shortstop), Bailey Lange (pitcher), and Courtney Krodinger (outfield).

The Bloomington Lady Hearts featured three players on the All-WMS Team, as Morgan Edwards (first base), Ally Wiegand (pitcher), and Kate McLean (outfield) took home the honors.

Rounding out the All-WMS Tournament squad were catchers Nikki Cuccio (New York City Havoc) and Halle Kisamore (Nook 23 Gold), outfielder Elaine Bedell (Lyons Spirit), utility pick Lauren Pitney (Stratford Brakettes-second base), and pitcher Reilly Gearhart (Nook 23 Gold).

Lyons Spirit centerfielder Bedell was also named the Allyson Rioux Award winner, given to the top defensive player in the tournament. NYC Havoc catcher Nikki Cuccio also took home the Diane Schumacher Award as WMS Batting Queen with a .533 batting average.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the Ninth Annual Women's Major Softball National Championship a success! And congratulations to the St. Louis Saints! See you in 2018…

Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
SAINTS 4 2 0 0 3 0 0 9 16 0
LADY HEARTS 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 4 2
Batteries: Saints- Chelsea Ross (W) and Rachael Donald; Lady Hearts- Ali Domkuski (L), Sarah Finck (1), Alexis Estes (5) and Sydney Bina




Lyons Spirit Eliminate Brakettes from WMS

The Lyons Spirit (PA) topped the Stratford Brakettes 5-4 in the Loser's Bracket Semifinals on Saturday night at DeLuca Field, dropping the Brakettes from contention at the 2017 Women's Major Softball National Championship.

With the loss, the Brakettes failed to win the WMS title for just the second time in its nine-year existence. The Brakettes had won seven-consecutive WMS national titles, dating back to 2010.

Jenn Shellhammer went the distance to earn the win and lead the Spirit into Sunday play at the WMS. She struck out 12 batters along the way, while allowing five hits.

The Spirit relied on the long ball to distance themselves from the Brakettes in the early going.

Elaine Bedell singled with one out in the top of the first to get things started, and went to third on a double by Liz Gall. Jessica Strong followed and blasted a three-run home run to put Lyons up by a 3-0 score.

Liz Parkins led off the second for the Spirit and stretched the margin to 4-0 with a solo shot.

The Brakettes started to dig out of the big hole in the bottom of the second, as Lauren Pitney led off with a walk. After Shellhammer struck out the next two batters, Casey Harding crushed a two-run homer to cut the deficit in half, at 4-2.

Lyons picked the bats right up and pieced together another run in the third, as Sam Sweigart reached on an error with two outs. Parkins followed with a double to the fence in right-center, putting two in scoring position for the Spirit. Shellhammer then helped herself out with a single through the right side, sending Sweigart home for a 5-2 Spirit lead.

Brakette starter Tatum Buckley (3-1) was relieved by Kaysee Talcik after the run scored in the third, and Talcik struck out the next batter to get out of the inning. Talcik would go on to pitch 4 and 1/3 perfect innings with six strikeouts, but the damage had already been done.

The Brakettes did not give, however, as they tried to chip away at the deficit.

Val Suto reached second base on a one-out, two-base throwing error in the third. Suto tagged up on a deep fly to center by Brittany Younan, heading to third with two outs. Denise Denis brought Suto home with a hard-hit, infield single to close the gap to 5-3.

Stratford tacked on another run in the home fifth, when veteran Brakette Amber Radomski singled to right with one out. Gabby Laccona came on to run for Radomski, and moved up on a sac bunt by Megan Hodgdon. The throw to first base sailed high of the bag, allowing Laccona to head to third.

With runners at the corners, Younan beat out an infield single, plating Laccona to make it a 5-4 game. Shellhammer retired the next batter to end the threat and secure the narrow lead for the Spirit.

Despite allowing a baserunner in each of the last two frames, Shellhammer refused to budge. She struck out the side in the sixth and took a 5-4 lead into the last of the seventh.

Megan Hodgdon was hit by a pitch with two outs in the seventh, but was stranded there to end the game, as third baseman Danielle Kitchen caught a soft liner in foul territory for the third out.

The triumph was the Spirit's second win of the season over the Brakettes, after losing the first 68 games in the history of the rivalry.

The Spirit advanced to play the Bloomington Lady Hearts (IL) on Sunday morning in the Loser's Bracket Semifinal. The Lady Hearts defeated the NYC Havoc 10-4 on Saturday night to move into the matchup.

The loss eliminated the Stratford Brakettes from the 2017 WMS National Championship, as the team finished tied with the NYC Havoc for fifth place. The Brakettes finished the season with a 40-5-1 record.

The game was the last as a player for the Brakettes in the storied career of Amber Radomski, who recently announced she would retire at the completion of the WMS tournament. Radomski, who started out with the Brakettes in her youth as a batgirl, will stay on with the club as a coach.

WMS Tournament, Bracket Game 11
9:30 PM Saturday, Aug 12th
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
SPIRIT 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 5 7 3
BRAKETTES 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 4 5 1
Records: Brakettes 40-5-1
Batteries:
Spirit- Jenn Shellhammer (W) and Jessica Strong; Brakettes- Tatum Buckley (L, 3-1), Kaysee Talcik (3) and Megan Hodgdon
Homerun: Spirit- Jessica Strong, Liz Parkins; Brakettes- Courtney Cashman (1)


Brakettes Fall to Nook in Winner's Bracket Semis

Aug 13 - The Stratford Brakettes were beaten 2-1 by the Nook 23 Gold (PA) on Saturday in the 2017 WMS National Championship Winner's Bracket Semifinals. The loss marked the first time since the inaugural 2009 WMS that the Brakettes failed to advance to the Winner's Bracket Final.

Brit Hook struck out six batters to earn the complete-game decision, besting the Brakettes' Brandice Balschmiter in an old-fashioned pitchers' duel. She scattered seven hits along the way.

Balschmiter (14-2) struck out seven and surrendered just three hits, and allowed only two unearned runs in defeat.

The Brakettes and Nook 23 Gold were scoreless into the fourth inning of the contest, but the Nook had plenty of early chances. While the Brakettes were no-hit by Hook over the first three frames, the Nook advanced runners to second base in each of those stanzas.

Taylor Sweight walked and stole a base with two outs in the home first, and Halle Kisamore was hit by a pitch. Balschmiter struck out the next batter and kept the Nook off the scoreboard.

Hannah Garber walked with one out in the second inning and stole second base, but two more strikeouts by Balschmiter retired the side.

Kayla Hall started the bottom of the third for the Nook with an infield single, and moved up on a bunt single by Bri Garber with one out. The Nook baserunners then attempted a double steal, but Stratford catcher Hannah Cooper fired to third and threw out Hall for the second out. Garber cruised into second on the play, but Balschmiter again got a strikeout to close out the threat.

The Brakettes finally got their first hit and broke the scoreless stalemate in the top of the third, after Brittany Younan tripled to the fence in right-center with one away. Denise Denis followed and lofted a sac fly to left to drive in Younan, giving the Brakettes a 1-0 edge.

After going down in order in the fourth, the Nook scored two runs with two outs in the fifth inning to take the lead.

Lauren Lichtenwalner drew a base on balls with one out in the fifth. Lichtenwalner moved to second on a single to center by Brit Hook, and both runners moved up a bag when Kayla Hall grounded out to first. With two outs and two in scoring position, Alyssa Lawton grounded to short. The throw to first sailed wide right of the bag, allowing both runners to scamper home for a 2-1 Nook 23 Gold lead.

Balschmiter induced a grounder from the next batter to close the fifth and retired the side in order in the sixth to give the Brakettes a chance to battle back.

The Brakettes had opportunities in the sixth and seventh innings, but ran themselves out of both frames.

Val Suto singled up the middle with one out in the sixth and stole second base. Younan came up next and also singled to center, and Suto was sent home on the play. The throw from centerfielder Hall was caught up the third base line, and a quick tag was applied by Nook catcher Halle Kisamore, leaving Suto out at the plate. Younan advanced to second on the throw, but was stranded there on a popup to end the inning.

The last chance for the Brakettes came in the top of the seventh, with Lauren Pitney launching a double down the line in right with one out. Gabby Laccona came on to run for Pitney and advanced to third on an infield single by pinch-hitter Tatum Buckley. The hard-hit ball kicked away from the third baseman, and after taking a wide turn at third, Laccona was eventually tagged out in a rundown.

The Brakettes dropped into the Loser's Bracket with the disappointing loss, as the Nook advanced to take on the St. Louis Saints in the Winner's Bracket Final.

WMS Tournament, Bracket Game 9
2:30 PM Saturday, Aug 12th
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
BRAKETTES 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 7 1
NOOK 23 GOLD 0 0 0 0 2 0 x 2 3 1
Records: Brakettes 40-4-1
Batteries:
Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (L, 14-2) and Hannah Cooper; Nook Gold- Brit Hook (W) and Halle Kisamore


Brakettes Punch Ticket to WMS Semifinals

Aug 12 - The Stratford Brakettes picked up a 6-1 win over the Connecticut Eliminators in the quarterfinals of the WMS Nationals on Friday night at DeLuca Field, as Kaysee Talcik struck out 16 batters.

Val Suto beat out an infield single to start the bottom of the first and quickly stole second base. Suto advanced to third on a groundball out and scored when Denise Denis grounded out to second. The tally gave the Brakettes an early 1-0 edge, which would stand until the home fourth.

Jolie Duffner singled up the middle to start the Brakettes' fourth frame. She moved up a bag on a base hit by Lauren Pitney, and a bunt single by Brittany Younan loaded the bases. Tatum Buckley drove in Duffner with a sac fly to left, stretching the lead to 2-0.

Talcik (6-1) was perfect through four innings and limited the Eliminators to just two hits on the night. Julie Slavin roped a double to left-center to start the fifth and break up the no-hit bid. Talcik struck out the next three batters to thwart the attempted rally.

The Brakettes continued the momentum in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs for some more breathing room.

Hannah Cooper drilled a single while leading off the fifth, and was run for by Megan Hodgdon. Suto picked up another base hit to put two on, and a single by Britt Lampert again loaded the bases for the Brakettes. With one out, Duffner grounded out to second to push Hodgdon across home plate for a 3-0 margin. Pitney followed with a single to center, scoring Suto and Lampert for a 5-0 lead.

The Eliminators scored their only run in the top of the sixth, as Elizabeth Lombardo started the inning with a single to right. Amanda King followed and earned a walk, putting two on for Connecticut. After a Talcik strikeout, Genna Hartman grounded to the right side. The Brakettes got the force at second, but an errant throw to first on a double play attempt allowed Lombardo to score. The run put the Eliminators on the board and made it a 5-1 game.

Casey Harding added to the Brakettes' lead in the sixth with a solo shot, her second home run in as many days. The blast closed out the scoring at 6-1.

Talcik picked up two more of her 16 K's in the top of the seventh to retire the side in order and secure the win for the Brakettes.

The Brakettes will take on the Nook 23 Gold on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 at DeLuca Field in the WMS Winner's Bracket Semifinals. The St. Louis Saints and Bloomington (IL) Lady Hearts will meet in the other Saturday semifinal at 1:00 pm.

All 2017 WMS tournament games at DeLuca Field will be live video webcast at brakettes.com.

WMS Tournament, Bracket Game 4
7:30 PM Friday, Aug 11th
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
ELIMINATORS 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 0
BRAKETTES 1 0 0 1 3 1 x 6 12 1
Batteries: Eliminators- Emily Kurtzner (L) and Madeira Alexander; Brakettes- Kaysee Talcik (W, 6-1) and Hannah Cooper
Homerun: Brakettes- Casey Harding (4)



When you talk about softball dynasties,
there's only one name that comes to mind...
the BRAKETTES!     more ...

1981 Brakettes on 60 Minutes
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