Women's Super Saturday at Springvale Baseball Club was a huge success, with five fantastic grand finals playing out across VSBL Women's Division 1, 2 and 3. Springvale, Doncaster, Moorabbin, Bonbeach and Sunshine prevailed in their games although all teams put on terrific displays of what Victorian Women's baseball is all about.
Women's Division 1: Doncaster Dragons 7 v Springvale Lions 9
Springvale won in a close contest for the Lions' seventh premiership in eight years. The Lions had dominated all season long with Doncaster being their closest competitors, Springvale finishing the regular season with a 14-3-2 record while the Dragons were just a few games behind at 12-4-3.
Doncaster put together a spirited fightback in the latter parts of the game against Springvale, although the Lions were able to hold on to take out a record 12th championship as they won 9-7.
The first two batters both went down for Doncaster to start the game before Bronwyn Gell changed that and made it to first on a hit to right field. Amy McCann was hit by a Gabby Bevan pitch, seeing runners on first and second however their dig was brought undone by a foul fly from Erin Collins, caught by Siobhan Stephenson.
Springvale’s opening inning started with a Lili Cavanagh hit that was caught by shortstop Belinda Cannington, a walk to Shae Lillywhite becoming the Lions first runner. From there, Springvale had four consecutive hits, Hannah Jackson recording the first which saw Lillywhite score. The second out came from Emily Devine’s hit back to the Doncaster pitcher, Gell choosing to throw to second to get Hannah Jackson out via a force. Sinead Flannigan sent the ball right up the middle to score Springvale’s second run, Devine coming home on that hit.
Ursula Howard was the first out for Doncaster in the next frame as second up Jamie Bastian drew a walk. Maddie Weller struck out swinging as Bevan gave up another walk to Rebecca Wright and it was three walks in four batters as Belinda Cannington had four balls on her to see the bases loaded. A force out at second from Samantha Hamilton’s hit saw the dig conclude for the Dragons.
Hanami Campitelli started strong at the bottom of the second, the ball landing in the middle of a mix of players in the outfield. Even though Maddy Patrick flew out to left field, Campitelli had made her way to second, and eventually home on Cavanagh’s second hit of the day.
Cavanagh made her way to third as Lillywhite hit a hard ground ball to third where the throw was off meaning Lillywhite was safe. Jackson did her job as a designed hitter, bringing in Cavanagh as she got her second hit of the afternoon, Springvale’s lead growing to 4-0.
A ground out to Devine saw the second out but Springvale still had two runners in scoring positions, Stephenson bettering her first at-bat single with a double, scoring those two runners and seeing Springvale out to a 6-0 lead.
Flannigan stayed in the box long enough with a full count and continuous foul balls to trade places with Stephenson as the scoring spree from Springvale continued before Kellie Manzie was caught at second by Weller to bring the inning to a close.
Doncaster, down a bundle of runs heading into the third inning, saw Gell ground out to third base before the Dragons finally started to string a few good hits together, McCann starting things off with a shot to right field. Collins, Howard and Bastian all singled too as the middle part of the Dragons lineup did some damage, Howard doing the most as her shot to centre-left helped Collins score their team’s first run of the game.
The Lions didn’t let that run faze them as they still continued with the hits, Patrick, Cavanagh and Lillywhite all contributing yet again. Lillywhite's single to right allowed the Lions to add two more onto their score and take an eight-run lead. Springvale was left with two runners in scoring positions after Lillywhite moved to third and Jackson was given a walk, Devine and Stephenson becoming the final two outs.
A three-up, three-down inning was exactly what Springvale needed to keep the lead at the top of the fourth, two runs would do the job for the Lions at the bottom, Doncaster making a pitching change bringing Jess Johnson onto the mound.
The pitching change worked out with the first batter Flannigan going down swinging, the Lions down two quickly as Manzie flew out to third.
Campitelli kept the innings going for Springvale when she singled to centre, Patrick drawing a walk when she was next up to the plate. Cavanagh hit a hard ground ball shortstop’s way, Cannington picking it up swiftly and throwing to second, retiring the Springvale side.
Gell got the leadoff single at the top of the inning and suddenly Doncaster had two singles to start their fifth frame as McCann’s base hit saw Gell scoring after initially making it to second on a passed ball. Collins and Howard both went down in quick succession but while Johnson was at the plate, the pitch got away from Devine catching and McCann scored Doncaster’s third run of the game as Johnson was eventually walked.
Patrick was entered onto the mound in hopes of claiming the final out, but Wright was able to keep the inning going with a single, Bastian scoring Doncaster’s third run of the inning so far.
Cannington was walked which meant bases were loaded and Hamilton saw the same result from her plate appearance, meaning another run scored for Doncaster before eventually Gell flew out to shortstop after Manzie was changed to the pitching position.
Lillywhite started Springvale’s fifth inning off with a double, her third hit of the day. Lillywhite was tagged out sliding into third as Jackson hit the ball straight back to the pitcher who chose to play the leading runner.
Devine secured her second hit of the day as Doncaster tried to turn a double play, Gell playing second to forceout Jackson. Stephenson was hit by a pitch before Flannigan struck out looking, the Lions unable to add to their tally.
McCann started the sixth with a walk, but the next three batters for Doncaster went down quickly. Springvale’s sixth started the same way, with a walk to Manzie, who was tagged out attempting to steal but the throw from Howard got there in time.
Campitelli struck at the next pitch for a single, Howard attempting the same again when Campitelli stole but the throw took some time to come down. Patrick struck a hard ground ball to shortstop Cannington who chose to throw for the out at first but some quick thinking from Hamilton saw Campitelli in a dire situation, eventually tagged out in a rundown play between second and third.
In a last roll of the dice for Doncaster in the seventh, Springvale needed to keep the Dragons to three runs or less to take this game without batting again and the inning started well with Johnson singling. Vanessa Clifford joined the lineup and came in as a pinch hitter, making an impact as she too sent a shot towards centre field for a single. Cannington became the first out for Doncaster after a great hit to left was caught by Campitelli running back with the flight.
Hamilton saw a safe single for her second hit, this one to shortstop, Lillywhite making the play at second as the double play couldn’t be converted.
With two outs, Gell came up big with a standup triple from a deep hit that got to the left field fence, scoring two of her teammates as Doncaster continued to close in the possibility of a magical comeback.
Gell wouldn’t be able to score though as McCann ground out to shortstop, Lillywhite throwing to Stephenson for that final out as the Lions started celebrating their amazing feat.
For Springvale, with 18 hits across the board, every member of the team secured a hit with Lillywhite, Jackson and Campitelli leading with three hits each, two to Cavanagh, Devine, Stephenson and Flannigan.
Gell led the way for Doncaster offensively including a triple in the seventh inning with two hits also for Hamilton and McCann as the Dragons saw 13 hits on the day.
Women's Division 2: Springvale Lions 3 v Doncaster Dragons 13
Doncaster was a force to be reckoned with all season long, finishing the regular season with a 14-1 record. Springvale wasn't far behind at 12-2 and the Lions were the only team to beat the Dragons, that 6-3 Springvale win coming in round 15. Both sides first started at 8-0 before the Dragons handed the Lions their first loss of the season.
But the Dragons dominated on both sides of the ball on Saturday, securing a mercy rule victory with a 13-3 result in four innings. This marked Doncaster's third championship win in the division and first since the 2009/10 season, preventing Springvale from going back-to-back.
Springvale got off to a good start in this game with back-to-back hits, a double to Emma Jenkinson and a single Lily Belltanner, advancing the leadoff runner to third base.
While Aspen McGovern was in the box, the incoming Erin Collis pitch contacted the plate and popped up behind the catcher, seeing Jenkinson stroll home for Springvale's first run of the game.
McGovern drew a walk which meant there were runners on the corners, Mandi Avent grounding out to second base for the first out before the second out was made, a swinging strikeout from Janine Cavanagh.
Jess Adkins-Barber hit a deep shot towards the left field line and managed a stand-up double as two further runs crossed the plate for Springvale. Cass Shelverton grounded out in the next plate appearance, confirming a 3-0 lead for the Lions.
The first two batters for Doncaster both went down before three consecutive singles from the Dragons to Becky Petty, Maddy Davis and Jess Thompson, the latter’s hit allowing Petty to score from second.
After the first inning, both teams scored with Springvale leading by two runs but a three-up, three-down dig from the Lions didn’t see them add any further score to their overall tally.
Doncaster’s second turn at bat was also a three-up, three-down display that included two swinging strikeouts to Lions pitcher Jenkinson.
Springvale’s first two batters at the top of the third resulted in walks to Bell-Tanner and McGovern before the next two batters all went down consecutively.
Doncaster was back to the top of the order with Brooklyn Hutton leading off with a single to right field which started a string of baserunners for the Dragons, either via a hit or walk. A hit to rightfield from Petty scored the two runners as it brought the scores even yet again.
Davis singled to third and suddenly saw two runners in scoring positions, a pitch getting away from the catcher seeing Doncaster take the first lead of the day as Petty scored.
An injury to Springvale’s starting pitcher McGovern saw a pitching change made, Jenkinson coming on to pitch and try and get out of the inning. The bases became loaded after a walk to Jess Thompson and a single to Chelsea Stewart.
Another pitching change was made just as quickly for the Lions, Deb Bryant entering from the bench and immediately there were two outs made, Keeley Harrison’s line drive making its way straight into the glove of the new third base McGovern. An infield fly was called on Shelly Love as she popped one up just in front of the home plate.
Doncaster took a 5-3 lead over Springvale as the game headed to the fourth inning, Shelverton singling to third with one out already, however Bryant and Rachel Dell-McMahon became the final outs of the Springvale dig.
Hannah Sowden was hit by the pitch before Petty secured a walk, Davis becoming the first out after flying out to second. Despite that catch by Dell-McMahon, Sowden ran home to be Doncaster’s sixth run.
Singles to Thompson, Stewart, Harrison and Love in succession helped Doncaster grow out to a further lead, 9-3 before Kathy Hutton struck out looking. With two outs and Springvale wanting to take the game further along, Brooklyn Hutton connected for her second hit of the day while a walk to Sowden saw the bases loaded.
Petty saw her third hit of the day, this time with two RBIs attached to it and while next up Davis was safe at first from a hit to third, the 13th run was scored for Doncaster, ensuring the 10-after-four mercy result win.
Springvale had just four hits for the day, a double to Adkins-Barber the highlight while the pitching stocks of McGovern, Jenkinson and Bryant struck out four between them.
Doncaster put down 12 hits overall, Brooklyn Hutton, Petty, Davis, Thompson and Stewart each recording two hits. The Dragons pitcher Erin Collis struck out two as her defense were right behind her.
Women's Division 3 East: Moorabbin Panthers 10 v Melbourne Demons 4
Moorabbin won a big game over Melbourne, two teams that have battled back and forth all season long. Melbourne narrowly finished on top with a 10-2 record while Moorabbin was close behind at 10-3.
The Demons beat the Panthers 10-4 in the semi-final, forcing Moorabbin to the preliminary finals during which a 17-3 win over Doncaster set up the grand final matchup once more.
The semi-final scores were flipped on Saturday with Moorabbin taking a six-run lead to the end of the game. The Demons were looking to go back-to-back in their quest for championship glory, though they were beaten by a more dominant Panthers side who pounced late in the game, scoring six runs at the top of the eighth, four of those with two down, to win their first Women's Division 3 championship since the 2016/17 season. This also marked Moorabbin's fourth premiership across the VSBL competition this season.
However, this deciding fixture was always going to be a close result between the two best teams in the division, and that showed with the score tied at 4-4 after six innings in the two-hour time as the game needed to continue on.
The first inning for the Dragons was a three-up, three-down affair, and Melbourne was able to capitalise on a lead-off single to Melanie Keys that was hit towards centre field. Megan Payne took a walk and the Demons were in scoring position with runners on the first two bases.
Charmaine Neate and Shannon Kwok were both consecutive outs for the Demons but Tori Elliot struck big on the first pitch of her at-bat with a hit beyond centre field, Keys scoring the first run of the game.
The second inning for Moorabbin started with Ruby Dale being hit by the pitch before a string of outfield hits to Kathy Voyer and Jo Schutt. On Schutt’s hit to left field, the Panthers coach Gus Fielden sent Dale home but on a close play at the plate, she was tagged for the first out. Melbourne’s pitcher Kwok was able to secure the final two outs in quick succession, two swinging strikeouts. Theresa Slierkat was given out on a tag at first when she went off her basepath and was on the way back to the base, Moorabbin acting quickly to see that first out. Jade Devin took a walk before the two next outs followed.
Rachel Foster got things going for Moorabbin at the top of the third, seeing contact with the first pitch she saw, but was soon tagged out on a pickoff play. Foster was thinking the first base fielder had transferred the ball back to the pitcher, however stepping off the base, she was tagged by Payne and became the second out, that happening after a strikeout.
The bottom of the third started with a ground out to right field from Kelly Shay before Keys secured her second safe hit of the day, again to centre field.
Moorabbin would start the fourth inning with a looking strikeout to Bryony Exner before Kat Morris drew a walk and later Voyer made it to first despite a dropped third strike but the score remained the same, the one run margin continuing to the bottom half of the fourth.
Kwok led off with a triple that brought up chalk on the left field line. Elliot took a walk to provide Melbourne with runners on the corners, but it quickly turned into two in scoring position as Elliot stole second. A string of hits to the Demons from Glenda Millman and Sleirkat gave Melbourne a boost, the hit by Millman clearing left field to score those two baserunners. The Demons saw their lead extend to three runs.
With runners on one and two, Devin struck out looking, Josie Girdlestone drawing a walk, the inning ending with a double play, all thanks to Voyer. She caught a Jacquie McIntosh hit and then stepped on third base as she saw the runner too far down the third base line in taking off.
Rebecca Fielden made it safe on a dropped third strike that made its way to the backnet, Janelle Campbell the first out via a swinging strikeout. A walk to Rachel Foster forced Melbourne to change their pitcher, Neate taking a position on the mound.
With runners on the first two bases, Amy Madigan-Cooke hit the ball back to the pitcher, unable to be recovered as Madigan-Cooke made it safely to first. With loaded bases at that stage, Moorabbin brought in a pinch hitter, Jacquie Morris who made an immediate impact with her first hit, a shot past third base scoring one run.
Moorabbin continued to score as the second run came through, Foster making her way home from another good use of a pinch hitter for the Panthers, Sarah Grage with a single towards shortstop. Exner continued the string of runs for the Panthers with a hit that landed between left field and shortstop that saw a third Moorabbin run score to tie the game up. Morris picked up her second walk of the day as Dale went down via a swinging strikeout, Moorabbin adding in a pinch runner at third to try and take the lead but had to settle for an even 3-3 going into the bottom of the fifth.
Shay struck out for Melbourne before Keys took a walk. Keys made her way to third in a matter of pitches and while Payne flew out to right field, Keys stayed at third. A single to Neate towards left field saw Keys run home this time, the Demons taking the lead back at this time. Neate had made her way to third before Moorabbin chose to intentionally walk Kwok and Elliot, the Panthers able to contain the base running from the Demons for the final two outs.
Voyer started the sixth inning off well for Moorabbin with a single to left field before Jo Schutt scored a walk. Fielden grounded out to second base as the runners made their way around, Janelle Campbell hit by the pitch as she was next up. A sacrifice fly to Foster changed the score yet again as Moorabbin evened it up at four-all, Voyer scoring.
Moorabbin held Melbourne to a three-up, three-down bottom six dig, which meant that the game was extended beyond the two-hour mark. Hayley Fieldem was brought into the game to lead off the top of the seventh, though she struck out swinging. Kat Morris got on base from an error by third base, but Dale popped the ball up to the foul side of first where the catch was made, meaning Melbourne had another chance to end the game at the bottom of the seventh.
It was another three-up, three-down dig for the Demons as they couldn’t string any hits together. Voyer led off for Moorabbin in the top of the eighth, securing her fourth hit of the game and fifth time on base to start things off. Schutt was next, to get her third hit of the game. Fielden was hit by the pitch which brought a bases loaded situation, something Moorabbin had seen plenty of times before.
Campbell hit a single towards third base, Sleirkat picking up the ball and throwing to the plate to get the leading runner, Elliot stretching to gather the ball while keeping her foot on the plate. Foster hit a single to left field which scored two and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game.
Madigan-Cooke hit a shot that landed between in front of the right fielder who came charging in and took the ball to the middle bag herself for the force out. With two outs, Moorabbin held a two-run lead, they again came into a bases loaded situation with a walk, Morris up to the plate.
Morris too drew a walk, her third of the day, bringing another run in. Dale scored her first hit of the game from her fifth plate appearance and the slow, bounding ball ensured she was safe through aggressive base-running, scoring one more in the process. Voyer was next up and after fouling a couple off, managed to keep a shot to leftf ield staying fair, Devin the Melbourne left fielder not coming in quick enough as the runners were quick to respond, two runs scoring from that hit.
Schutt singled on an overturned call at first before Fielden hit it along the ground straight to a fielder who tagged the passing runner.
Payne started Melbourne’s eighth off well with a single to right, advancing on an error in an attempted pickoff but was later tagged out between second and third on a hit by Neate. Neate found her way to third eventually as Kwok struck out looking and Elliot grounded out to end the game, the Panthers jubilant in victory.
After coming into this game with a 1-3 record against Melbourne, the Panthers knew they were underdogs, but they remained focused on their ideal end result. "At no point during the game, even when we were 3-0 down at the bottom of the fourth inning, did we give up or think the game was over by any stretch," Schutt said. "We stayed tight, maintained our level of intensity and managed to turn things around to bring the score to 4-all by the bottom of the sixth, taking us into extra time."
Those six runs scored in the top of the eighth made all the difference for Moorabbin as the Panthers finally secured the victory after a game that stretched two hours and 40 minutes. "Both teams were strong defensively with eight strikeouts and only two errors each so it came down to the hitting, with Moorabbin having 14 hits to Melbourne's eight," Schutt said. "We were able to get the job done at bat and on the bases when it counted."
After consistent performances week in and week out this season, the Panthers were pleased that their hard work paid off. "Everyone's been having fun, working well together and doing their part on or off the field," Schutt said. "We have a big mix of young and old, new and experienced players."
This confident combination includes 13-year-old Hayley Fielden who got to play on the same team with her mum and aunt as well as her dad as coach. The Panthers also credit their unique pitcher-catcher combo that's made it difficult for opponents to score runs. "Kat Morris pitched the majority of our games in an outstanding manner and 15-year-old catcher Ruby Dale has an incredibly bright future in baseball," Schutt added. "The women's program at Moorabbin continues to grow and winning the 2019/20 VSBL Women's Division 3 East flag will hopefully open up opportunities for players to develop their game even further next season. We can't wait to be back!"
Women's Division 3 South: Cheltenham Rustlers 10 v Bonbeach Bluejays Blue 11
Bonbeach won in a walk-off, coming back from multiple deficits throughout the game to secure a long-awaited flag in thrilling style.
These two sides had battled hard all season long, with the Bluejays finishing on top of the competition with a 12-1 record, their only loss a 8-5 result in favour of Cheltenham back in round three.
The Rustlers went 11-3 in the regular season and they jumped on the board first in this game. By the end of the first inning the scoreline read 4-1 in favour of Cheltenham. The Bluejays got one back in the second and another in the third brought the game back within close reach for Bonbeach.
The Bluejays tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, both teams sitting at five runs apiece after bursts of offense. The game went to extra innings, with the Rustlers doing a great job of getting ahead by five runs, with the score 10-5 Cheltenham going into the bottom of the fifth. The Bluejays refused to go down without a fight, bringing the tying run home and hitting a walk-off to seal the deal on a sweet, highly sought-after victory.
The nail biter of a finish showcased the hard work and determination of both sides as the Rustlers Women's team made their first finals appearance and the Bluejays made the most of their first finals run since the 1990s. "It was an amazing day - it hasn't sunk in yet and I'm still in disbelief," Bonbeach President and Women's Coach Bronwyn James said. "I think its safe to say nerves got the better of the ladies and we had to play catch up throughout the game. The key thing was that they battled throughout and never gave up."
The last two innings of the game is where the Bluejays really came alive. "We finally started playing some Lady Jay baseball and everyone got a handle on their nerves," James said. "We were smart in the bat, getting on base and being aggressive. Some heads up baserunning kept players reaching scoring position and bringing up the score."
Faced with a similar high-pressure situation as in the semi-final, Olivia Richards had a clutch two-out bases loaded groundball hit between short and third. That brought in Jess Walters as the tying run but also Jess Brown to win the game in a heartpounding race at the plate. The Bluejays had Sarah Vincent starting on the hill, with James and Fee Glover appearing in relief. "Walters had a great game behind the dish, and the hit of the game goes to Aimee Melford with a killer triple," James said.
The high-energy, electric game was a wonderful finish to the season for the Bluejays. "The win is something amazing, not only for the club but for the ladies. Having only been around for three summer seasons, its pretty amazing to go from our starting grounds to winning the flag," James said. "With so many of the girls brand new to the sport its something special for them to be part of this. Its also been 25 years since a Bonbeach women's summer team has won a flag so getting to be part of history is pretty awesome."
The Bluejays hope this is just the beginning of successful summer baseball for the women's program. "It's my hope that we can keep attracting new ladies to the sport and do what we do best - get them to love baseball," James said. "There's something pretty special about bringing someone into the sport completely new and seeing them not only love the sport but develop and compete. After all, that's where the future of the sport lies - in bringing new players to it and that's what the Lady Jays are all about."
Women's Division 3 West: Fitzroy Lions 11 v Sunshine Eagles 21
The Eagles ended the season in fabulous fashion with a convincing win over Fitzroy.
Sunshine finished the regular season well in front on the ladder with a 12-1 record, with Fitzroy in second place with a 6-5-1 record.
Sunshine won 17-4 over Fitzroy in the semi-finals, and the Eagles followed up with similar form in the Grand Final, much to the enjoyment and excitement of all the Women's program supporters, particularly after 14 runs in the first inning. "The girls were an amazing group of girls and I think our success had a lot to do with the fact that we always had fun and supported each other not matter what," Andrea McKenner said. "Everyone had each other’s backs. It really was a great season!"
McKenner threw a perfect game for Sunshine earlier this season, and she was great on the mound this time around as well, covering the entire game. "The defence did a great job behind me, with some great plays from Melinda Sutherland at second base and Amy Wilkie taking the last catch to finish the game in centre field," McKenner said. "Hitting wise the whole team was great, Makayla McKenner led the way with three doubles and a single on her 14th birthday and Kat Salkovic also had four hits."
Although many of the players are new to the sport, Sunshine was successful in chasing the club's first women's premiership in 23 years due to great teamwork and persistence in every game. "As a team the ladies have been awesome, playing the season with only a few players that have ever played before, we had fun together and laughed throughout the whole season," McKenner said. "With so many mums in the team having a great time together is rewarding, personally getting to play with my daughter was a highlight."
If this premiership is any indication, Sunshine believes there's a bright future ahead for women's baseball at the club. "Our goal is to give the young girls coming through something to look forward to after juniors and a place where they can develop their skills and have a great time doing it," McKenner said.