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Brakettes Win Sixth Straight WMS National Championship

August 10, 2015 - The Stratford Brakettes slugged their way to an impressive 19-2 rout of the New York City Havoc on Sunday, as the local favorites defeated the only other squad to capture a Women’s Major Softball National Championship. The hometown crowd at DeLuca Hall of Fame Field had plenty to cheer about, as the offense exploded for 18 hits, including eight of the extra-base variety.

The Brakettes finished the 2015 campaign with a 44-6 record, including a 30-game winning streak to end the season. Their last loss was on June 27th to Team Canada, which recently won the Pan-Am Games with a victory over Team USA, the second Canadian decision over the Americans in the last two months.

The Havoc captured the first WMS National Championship in 2009, and made a return to the title game for the first time in six years.

Denise Denis went 5-for-5 in the title game, including two home runs and a near-record nine RBI’s in the contest. Only former Brakette outfielder Donna McLean (10) has more RBI’s in a single game. The two long balls in the season’s last game gave Denis 10 on the year, as she made it seven-straight seasons with double-digit home runs. Denis now has a franchise-record 103 career homers with the Stratford Brakettes, 12 ahead of ASA National Hall of Famer Pat Dufficy, who sits in second place.

Elena Bowman also hit a home run in the game, her 10th of the season, as she finished tied with Denis for the team lead in 2015.

Stratford quickly went up 2-0 in the first inning, after Britt Lampert reached on a one-out walk. Denis followed with a single up the middle to put two on, and a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance a base. Bowman drew a walk, loading the bases, and tournament MVP Sarah Bencivenga came through with a two-run double to right-center to provide the early edge.

Jordan Whitley singled to start the second, as the Brakettes delivered the first of several big innings. Val Suto and Lampert reached on back-to-back bunt singles, setting the stage for the team’s slugging rightfielder.

The left-handed Denis pulled a pitch off Havoc starter Sierra Sheehan over the fence in right, a grand slam on the big stage to blow the game open at 6-0.

The barrage continued, as Bencivenga clobbered a homer to left while leading off the third. The Brakettes would soon add to the 7-0 advantage, after Tatum Buckley reached on an error. Whitley pushed Buckley to second with a base hit, and Cassie Ruscz moved both baserunners up 60 feet with a sacrifice bunt. Suto then lofted a sac fly to center, which brought Buckley home for an 8-0 margin.

Lampert came up next and crushed a triple to right-center, scoring Whitley for a 9-0 lead. Lampert fell to the ground in pain after pulling into third base, and had to leave the game after a short delay with an ankle injury.

Katie Petroski came on to pinch-run for Lampert, and scored when Denis delivered her second homer of the matchup. The two-run shot by Denis stretched the lead to 11-0 after three innings, but the Brakettes still had much more firepower in store.

Bowman’s solo blast in the fourth gave Stratford back-to-back innings with a leadoff homer, and made it 12-0. Bencivenga followed and reached on an error, before moving up two bases on a pair of wild pitches. Buckley earned a base on balls, putting runners at the corners. Whitley delivered a popup to shallow right, but Bencivenga took advantage and tagged up to cross the plate with the team’s 13th run.

After having to stay put on the sac fly, Buckley was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Ruscz. Suto singled to push Riscz to second, and Petroski walked to load the bases again for Denis.

This time, the Brakettes’ all-time home run leader was kept in the ballpark, but delivered a two-run single to push the tally to 15-0.

Brakette starter Brandice Balschmiter (18-2) gave up her only hit of the afternoon in the home fourth, when Linsey DeDomenico crushed a solo shot. The home run put the Havoc on the board and made it 15-1. Balschmiter struck out five in her five innings of work.

The Brakettes again added to the lead in the fifth, sending up nine batters to the plate for the second consecutive frame.

Bowman singled to right and went to third on a ground rule double by pinch-hitter Mary Sciglimpaglia. The bases were juiced once more with a base on balls issued to Buckley, before a grounder to third by Whitley saw Bowman forced out at home. Taylor Moss pitched in with a single to score Bencivenga, as the lead grew to 16-1. With the bases still loaded, Suto doubled to score two more runs and send Moss to third.

With two on and two outs, Denis contributed her fifth hit of the night, a single up the middle to score Moss for a 19-1 cushion.

Laura Ricciardone relieved Balschmiter in the fifth inning and surrendered one run.  Melanie Pellegrino led off the bottom of the stanza with a walk and went to second on a single by Gina Gerone. After moving to third on a groundout, Pellegrino came home on a single by Liz Strein-DiCicco to pull the Havoc to within 19-2.

The Brakettes were held scoreless in both the sixth and seventh innings by Havoc reliever Alyson Chiaramonte, who was the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the inaugural WMS Championship in 2009.

Ricciardone pitched a scoreless sixth inning before giving way to Sydney Matzko in the seventh. Matzko retired the side to seal the victory and ensure that the WMS hardware would remain in Straford, CT.

New York City had advanced to the Championship Game with a 5-2 victory over the defending runner-up St. Louis Saints in the Losers Bracket Final on Sunday morning at Deluca. Linsey DeDomenico’s two-run single in the first inning scored Gina Gerone and Brenna Martini to give the Havoc an early advantage, and Patti Sciglimpaglia walked and eventually scored in the second on a wild pitch to go up 3-0. Martini would later drive in Gerone from second with an RBI single in the same inning to extend the Havoc lead to 4-0.

St. Louis made it interesting in the fifth, when Wendy Macias reached on a two-base error and scored on another defensive miscue. Brooke Riemenschneider reached on the second error and moved to third on a groundout, before scoring on a base hit by Terri Dearth, pulling the Saints to within 4-2.

New York City got one run back in the bottom of the fifth, when Liz Strein-DiCicco and DeDomenico had back-to-back singles to start things off. After a sacrifice by Danielle Basciano, Kaitlyn Flynn sent Strein-DiCicco home with a single to close out the scoring at 5-2.

Chiaramonte earned the win for the Havoc, as she limited a potent Saints lineup to just three hits and two unearned runs in the contest.

Brandice Balschmiter (UMASS grad) won the Joan Joyce Award as the Most Outstanding Pitcher of this year’s WMS, as she finished the tourney with a 3-0 record and only gave up one run in 17 innings of work.

Recent Florida Atlantic transfer and Brakette leftfielder Sarah Bencivenga took home both the WMS tournament batting title (Diane Schumacher Award) with a .643 batting average, and the MVP award, named for all-time Brakette great Micki Stratton.

Havoc utility infielder Gina Gerone (Catawba College) and Brakette catcher Elena Bowman (Manhattan) shared the Pat Dufficy Award as the tourney’s home run queen, each blasting three long balls in double-elimination WMS play. Gerone also made the all-tournament squad as the second baseman, while Bowman was voted to the squad as one of two catchers.

Other Brakettes to be named to the All-WMS team were Emily Lochten at shortstop (Florida Atlantic), Denise Denis in the outfield (UMASS grad), third baseman Jordan Whitley (Rutgers) and Val Suto as a utility pick (Seton Hall).

Brenna Martini (Hofstra) made the all-tourney team at first base, as she split her WMS action between first and third, and Linsey DeDomenico (Sacred Heart) was the other catcher chosen to the All-WMS squad.

The Havoc finished the season with a 19-10 record, as they became just the third team to appear in multiple WMS title tilts, along with the Brakettes and St. Louis Saints.

St. Louis Saints centerfielder Rylee Holland (Indiana State) was named the Defensive Player of the tournament, while pitcher/DP Wendy Macias (Maryville University-St. Louis ) was named an All-WMS Utility pick.

1:30 PM Sunday, August 9th
Brakettes Win WMS Championship !!!
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
BRAKETTES 2 4 5 4 4 0 0 19 18 2
NYC HAVOC 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 5 3
Batteries: Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (W, 18-2), Laura Ricciardone (5), Sydney Matzko (7) and Elena Bowman, Mary Sciglimpaglia (6); Havoc- Siera Sheehan (L), Nicole Flint (2), Sheehan (4), Patty Sciglimpaglia (5), Alyson Chiaramonte (5) and Linsey DeDomenico
Homeruns: Brakettes- Denise Denis 2, incl grand slam (10), Sarah Bencivenga (5), Elena Bowman (10); Havoc- Linsey DeDomenico

When you talk about softball dynasties,
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the BRAKETTES!     more ...

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