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BRAKETTES HOST ST. LOUIS SAINTS ON 'STRATFORD NIGHT' AT DELUCA FIELD

STRATFORD Aug. 1 - Ed Martz has been coaching women's softball for 56 years. He's also brought his St. Louis Saints women 's fast pitch softball team to Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame Field nine times in the past 10 years.

Martz and the Saints will be at DeLuca Field Tuesday night to face the Stratford Brakettes at 7 p.m. in a split doubleheader. The Connecticut Seahawks provide the opposition in the nightcap. All three teams will be participating in the 8th annual Women's Major Softball National Championship Thursday through Sunday at DeLuca Field. Tournament passes will be on sale Tuesday.

The Brakettes have dubbed the twin-bill as Town of Stratford Night at DeLuca Field. All Stratford residents will be admitted free of charge, according to Brakettes General Manager Bob Baird. “Stratford residents just need to show us their license, or proof of residency, and they will be our guests.”

“It's always great playing against the Brakettes. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the Brakettes,” said Martz. “We've developed quite a rivalry in the last 10 years. We've managed to beat them a few times. They know they're in for a game every time we meet.”

The Saints enter with a 21-12 record after finishing runner-up in the recently-concluded National Softball Association tournament Sunday in Peoria, IL. They lost to the Indiana Slammers, 7-4, in the finals.

Manager John Stratton's Brakettes (45-2) have already played the Saints four times this year, winning each game. The Brakettes beat the Saints 3-0 in the finals of the Saints tournament June 12 before beating them 5-1 on July 17 in the City of Pekin, IL, National Invitational tourney.

One of the most exciting games in the rivalry occurred August 4, 2015 when the Brakettes rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win, 7-6, in the first game of their pre-tournament doubleheader. In their 2014 pre-WMS games, the Saints beat ace Alyson Fornier 5-3 to end the Brakettes' record 241-game DeLuca Field winning streak.

Saints shortstop Jolie Duffner is one of the finest players the Brakettes have faced this season. “She (Jolie) collected four hits in six at bats against our pitching staff in Pekin,” said Stratton. Madi Norman and Ashley Koziol are the Saints top pitchers.

Stratton will have his entire pitching staff in place for the WMS. Ace Brandice Balschmiter (10-0, 0.75) has been out with a broken wrist for three weeks. She has been cleared to pitch. Newcomer Megan Good (4-0, 0.00), the All-America from James Madison, Tatum Buckley (17-1, 0.82) and Patti Sciglimpaglia (9-1) provide the Brakettes with plenty of options.

Center fielder Val Suto leads the team with a .533 batting average and 24 stolen bases. All-time home run leader Denise Denis is hitting .439 with a team-high 59 RBI, while Buckley (.429, 46 RBI) is the Brakettes cleanup hitter.