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Brakettes Outduel Saints in Classic WMS Final

August 8 - The Stratford Brakettes bounced back from a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Saints in the Women's Major Softball National Championship Game on Sunday, earning their own 1-0 victory in the “IF” game to secure their seventh consecutive title at DeLuca Hall of Fame Field.

The Brakettes were sitting pretty as the only undefeated squad entering the tournament's last day, thanks to a dramatic 3-0 win over the Saints on Saturday night in the Winner's Bracket Final. The trio of games played over two days amounted to an impromptu best-of-three between the two pre-tournament favorites.

The survivors from the Loser's Bracket had to defeat the Brakettes twice on Sunday to clinch the title, and the Saints were stopped halfway to the ultimate goal.

St. Louis qualified for the Championship by virtue of a 2-1 victory over the Dutchess Debs (NY) in the Loser's Bracket Final.

The Debs proved to be the biggest surprise of the tournament, posting a 3-2 record in bracket play to finish third. The young upstarts from the Empire State upset both the Lyons Spirit (PA) and New York City Havoc in bracket play, eliminating the latter from the WMS, as well as the Connecticut Seahawks.

Sarah Finck led St. Louis to a 1-0 victory in the first matchup of the day between the Saints and the Brakettes, as she struck out three and limited Stratford to four hits. The decision marked the first time that the Saints defeated the Brakettes during WMS play, and was the first loss for Stratford in the tournament since 2009.

Brandice Balschmiter (12-1) took the tough loss, as she went the distance and struck out seven batters. She surrendered nine hits, and repeatedly worked out of jams until the top of the sixth. Until that fateful inning, Balschmiter managed to strand eight runners on the basepaths, including five in scoring position.

Kate Sullens scored the game's only run for the Saints after reaching on an infield single in the sixth. She advanced to second on a fielder's choice and went to third on a single to left by Jolie Duffner. Alexa Holland reached on a two-out infield single, which allowed Sullens to race home for the 1-0 lead, which turned out to be decisive.

Balschmiter struck out the next batter to leave the bases loaded, and fanned two more in the seventh to keep it close.

However, Finck kept the Brakettes off the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, despite a leadoff single from Sarah Bencivenga. She eventually reached third, but was stranded there as a comebacker to Finck closed out the Saints' win.

Brakette ace Megan Good proved to be the difference maker in the “IF” game, as the Brakettes won the rematch by the slimmest of margins. Good struck out three and walked none, while scattering five singles to earn the win. She also drove in the only run of the game in the second inning.

Bencivenga led off the second and singled down the left-field line. With one out, Good drilled a hard grounder past the outstretched reach of second baseman Jolie Duffner, which bounced past the centerfielder and into the gap. Bencivenga came home from first on the hit, and Good took second as the throw came home.

The 1-0 edge was enough for Good, who closed out the win in the seventh, despite hits from Ashley Nicolao and Finck. The runners were stranded at second and third, respectively, when Good induced a grounder to first to clinch the title.

Brakettes finished at 52-3 for the season, while Good finished the 2016 campaign with a 9-0 record. She won both the Joan Joyce Award (Most Outstanding Player) and Micki Stratton Award (Most Valuable Player) for the tournament. Val Suto won the Batting Title with a .467 clip in Bracket Play, while Denise Denis shared the Pat Dufficy Award with six other players for most home runs in bracket play (1).

The final three games of the 2016 Women's Major tournament were one-run decisions, clearly establishing this year's tourney as the most well-contested in WMS history.

Many thanks go out to all the players, coaches, field staff, volunteers, family and friends of the WMS for making this year's edition the best yet!

WMS "IF" Game (13)
5:40 PM Sunday, August 7
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
STL SAINTS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
BRAKETTES 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 1 6 0
Batteries: Saints- Madi Norman (L) and Olivia Denslow; Brakettes- Megan Good (W, 9-0) and Hannah Cooper

WMS Championship Game (12)
3:00 PM Sunday, August 7
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
STL SAINTS 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 9 0
BRAKETTES 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
Batteries: Saints- Sarah Finck (W) and Ashley Nikolao; Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (L, 12-1) and Hannah Cooper