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Brakettes Leave Midwest as Pekin Invitational Champs

July 18 - The Stratford Brakettes topped the St. Louis Saints in the Championship Game of the City of Pekin (IL) National Invitational Tournament, riding a three-run homer by Denise Denis and a strong start by Tatum Buckley to a 5-1 victory on Sunday at Mineral Springs Park.

Two 8:00 am Loser's Bracket games were in progress as ominous storm clouds rolled in, with the Indiana Slammers facing off against the Bloomington (IL) Lady Hearts, and the Pekin Lettes taking on the East Peoria (IL) Lady Rage. Both games were eventually scrapped before completion, as heavy thunderstorms and rain, plus a dismal afternoon forecast, forced the cancellation of all Loser's Bracket play. After several hours of waiting it out, the field was deemed playable just after 11:00.

The Brakettes and Saints were originally slated to meet in the Winner's Bracket Final at 9:30 am (Central Time), as the only two undefeated teams remaining in bracket play. However, the matchup became a winner-take-all clash for the tournament trophy once the lower bracket was called off.

Buckley and Saints starter Ashley Koziol matched scoreless frames for the first two innings, but St. Louis had the better opportunity early on.

The Saints enjoyed a pair of two-out hits in the top of the first, as Jolie Duffner doubled to the gap in left-center and reached third on a single by Madi Norman. Buckley induced a ground ball to first to retire the side, starting a string of 10 straight retired batters.

Denis also helped out defensively, with an impressive sliding catch of a fly ball down the right field line in the top of the third (photo, above). The Brakettes were impressive in the field all week long, and the final was no exception.

Stratford finally broke through against Koziol in the bottom of the third, scoring four runs to break the game open. Hannah Cooper doubled to the fence in left-center with no outs (photo), providing the first runner in scoring position for Stratford. Jordan Whitley came in as a courtesy runner for Cooper, and moved to third on a sac bunt by Patti Sciglimpaglia.

Summer Damiano followed and picked up her biggest hit as a Brakette, lining a single up the middle to score Whitley for the game's first run.

Val Suto then walked to put two on, and with two outs, Denis clobbered a three-run blast over the fence in right for a 4-0 lead.

The Brakettes added to the lead in the home fifth, when Patti Sciglimpaglia led off with a single to right. She advanced to third on a pair of groundouts, and Britt Lampert delivered a two-out single up the middle to stretch the margin to 5-0.

The Saints would not give up, and pieced together a run in the seventh. Haley Schrock walked with one out and went to second on a grounder to the right side. With two outs, Hope Miller drilled a base hit to center to cut the lead to 5-1.

Buckley (13-1) ended any dreams of a comeback by inducing a grounder to short, and Emily Lochten fired a laser throw to first for the out to secure the title.

The Brakettes improved to 37-2 on the season, as they captured their second tournament championship of the summer. They also defeated the Saints 3-0 on June 12th in Millstadt, IL to win the St. Louis Invitational.

There will be little time to rest for the Brakettes upon returning home, as they are back in action Friday night at DeLuca Field in Stratford, with a 7:00 doubleheader against the Connecticut Seahawks.

All 2016 Brakettes games are live video webcast at www.brakettes.com.

Sunday 12:12 p.m., July 17th
vs. St. Louis Saints
Championship Game
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
STL SAINTS 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 0
BRAKETTES 0 0 4 0 1 0 x 5 7 0
Batteries: Saints- Ashley Koziol (L), Madi Norman (5) and Olivia Denslow; Brakettes- Tatum Buckley (W, 13-1) and Hannah Cooper
Homerun: Denise Denis (7)