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Brakettes Host Swag in Prep for July 4 Tournament

STRATFORD June 30 — Preparing for this weekend’s trip to Lyons, Pa., for the annual July 4th Tournament, the Stratford Brakettes first host the New York Swag Thursday and Friday nights at 7 at DeLuca Field. Riding a modest eight-game win streak, the Brakettes bring an overall 20-1 record into this week’s action. The Swag will pose a considerable challenge as their roster is composed of Division I and II players from the Metropolitan area.

Following the four-game series with the Swag, Manager John Stratton’s club will play three games Saturday in pool play in the July 4th event. They will meet the Jersey Fusion at 12:30 p.m., the Mid-Penn Talons at 2:15, and the TC Tremors at 4. Single-elimination will determine the championship Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m.

Since the start of the 2010 season the Brakettes have played in 19 tournaments, including six Women’s Major National Softball championships, the prestigious Fastpitch Championship Invitational in Henderson, Nev., and the USSSA World Series in Rockford, Ill., and they’ve won every one of them. The only loss the Brakettes suffered came in the FCI in a first-round game against the Southern California Hurricanes in 2012. They won seven straight games to capture the title.

“Our players are always ready to play,” Stratton said. “When there is a championship involved, it’s like they feel as they can’t lose. There’s always someone ready to carry the ballclub.”

The Brakettes have won seven July 4th tournament crowns since playing in it for the first time 20 years ago. They do not participate in it every season.

Pitching Thursday will be third-year Brakette Tatum Buckley of Monroe and Norwalk’s Patti Sciglimpaglia. Buckley is 5-1 with a 0.88 ERA and 48 strikeouts against six bases on balls. Sciglimpaglia is 6-0 and a 1.81 ERA. Veteran Brandice Balschmiter (7-0) is sixth all-time in career wins with a 160-11 overall record. She has a 0.73 ERA and a team-high 67 strikeouts in 48 innings.

Val Suto, the reigning batting champion, leads the team with a .484 average with Buckley second at .462. Buckley leads with five home runs, but the new RBI leader is Denise Denis (.448) with 23, one more than Buckley. Hannah Cooper raised her average to .409 and she is third with 18 RBI.

Suto (11) and Denis (10) are involved in a battle for the stolen base lead, a category the team hasn’t relied upon in recent years. With five left-handed hitters in the lineup, and speed galore, the Brakettes already have 33 stolen bases.

Tickets for the Battle of the Sexes III between the Brakettes and Bridgeport Bluefish will be on sale both nights. Reserved seats, with a face value of $12, are going for $8 when purchased from the Brakettes.

Following this week’s slate the Brakettes will host Reunion Weekend II, July 8-10 at DeLuca Field. More than 50 former players have already committed for the event, which features a home run derby involving past and present players July 8 and an old-timers game July 9.