BV Women's Summer League Grand Final, Saturday 31 March, 2012.
DON 2 2 0 3 4 8 19
SPR 4 1 0 0 0 0 5
It’s been a long four years at the Doncaster Baseball Club.
Since the Women’s First IX last raised the Premiership trophy, the side has endured two agonising grand final losses and one surprising preliminary final defeat.
But at Malvern Baseball Club on Saturday, the Dragons erased any doubt with a 19-5 annihilation of defending premiers the Springvale Lions.
Lead by Head Coach Samantha Hamilton, the victory gave the Doncaster women’s program it’s third premiership flag in six years following victories in 2005/06 and the 2007/08.
The Dragons opened their account in the first inning with two runs after a two-out double to centre field by Erin Collins plated Samantha Hamilton and Amy McCann who had reached via walks.
Kathy Welsh took the mound for the Dragons, with the Lions jumping on top of the recently named Doncaster Club Champion early with four runs following some powerful hitting by the top of the order.
In the top of the second, the Dragons leveled the score after a towering ground-rule double to left field by Amy McCann scored Gell who reached on a single, with Hamilton crossing the plate after a two-out hard hit ball by Erin Collins forced an error.
In the bottom of the second, the Dragons looked in trouble allowing the Lions to load the bases with one-out. However a spectacular 4-6-5 double-play ended the inning, but not before the Lions stole one run off the play and a 5-4 lead heading into the third.
Both teams gave the scorers a break in the third inning, however the Dragons took the lead in the fourth inning with three runs.
Amy Collins and Samantha Hamilton reached base to lead off the inning, with McCann putting the Dragons on front with a sharp two-run double to right field. Josephine Pope knocked in McCann with a single to centre field, to move the score to 7-5.
While the Dragons bats began to hear up, on the mound Welsh was crafting a gem, holding the Lions scoreless in the fourth to preserve the two run lead.
In the fifth, the Dragons added four more to extend their lead to 11-5, highlighted by another blast by McCann, this time a three-run double to deep centre which knocked in Gell, Collins and Hamilton who had all reached on singles.
With Welsh stymieing the Lions bats once again in the fifth, most would have thought the Dragons would begin to savour the thought of raising the premiership flag.
However their bats continued to fire in the sixth with eight runs off six hits to Gell, Hamilton, McCann, Skews, Pope and Vibeke Pedersen.
With the score now at an imposing 19-5 and Welsh appearing to strengthen as the game wore on, the Dragons secured the final three outs in quick succession to take the mercy rule win and the premiership title.
For the Dragons with the bat, Amy McCann was simply in another realm, with the Australian team member pivotal in kickstarting many of the Dragons run scoring plays. The centerfielder collected four hits, including three doubles and drove in eight runs and scored three times.
Left fielder Josephine Pope also had a memorable day with three line shots and two RBIs, with Gell and Hamilton also collecting multiple hits.
Hamilton lauded praise on her team’s aggressiveness at the plate.
“We knew it was going to be tough facing Cat (Row) and Kate (Psota), two quality pitchers,” she said. “But we faced tough pitching all season, it was definitely one of the toughest years for hitters in recent times.
“And the best thing was that not one hitter tried to do it all with the bat, we each had a job to do and we executed, quite a little more than I could have dreamed for, but I’m not complaining.
“Amy (McCann) had a day out, easily the best game she has had with the bat, and what a time to have it.
“It was a lot of fun to watch,” Hamilton said.
With the ball, Welsh continued her tremendous finals season form, going six innings for just four earned runs whilst striking out two.
“Kathy Welsh, well what can I say,” Hamilton exclaimed.
“She has been hurting for weeks, we all knew that. But the strength and courage she showed to play through the finals with her arm almost hanging off is a true testament to how far she has grown this season.
“Kathy really laid it on the line of the team this year and it didn’t go unnoticed by anyone at the club, I can assure you of that.
“We could not have done this without the new Kathy Welsh,” Hamilton added.
In the field, the Dragons bounced back from two finals which featured some uncharacteristic errors to put on a fine fielding display. Pope and Skews were solid in left and right field making some tough plays, whilst the infield was yet again a wall, most notably Collins and Gell on the left side.
For Hamilton, the taste of a third premiership flag was more than just a reward for the season at hand.
“This really has been a three-year process for us,” said Hamilton after raising her third premiership shield as head coach.
“Two years ago we went out in the prelim final for the first time in six years, and then in last year’s grand final, we let a two run lead in the sixth inning slip,” explained Hamilton.
“The past three years have been a long, quite often painful, but now in the end, a very, very rewarding journey.
“I pay full credit to each and every member of my team a the hard work and dedication that they showed week in, week out, and not just this season.
“But mostly, I just want to say thank you to the team for making my job so enjoyable. We are teammates yes, but we are all great mates first.
“And I think that is why it meant so much to us today as a team, as a group of friends willing to go that extra inch or push that little bit harder, or play even when you were hurting.
“It was a tremendous team effort all season and I couldn’t be prouder,” Hamilton said.
Gell SS 3 hits, 3 runs
A Collins C 1 hit, RBI, 3 runs
Hamilton 1B 2 hits (2B), 3 RBIs, 5 runs, 2 BB
McCann CF 4 hits (3x2B), 8 RBIs, 3 runs
E Collins 3B 1 hit (2B), 3 RBIs, 1 run
Skews RF 1 hit, 1 run
Pope LF 3 hits, 2 RBIs, 1 run
Pedersen DH 1 hit, 2 SAC, 1 RBI
Cannington 2B SAC, RBI,
Welsh 6IP, 10H, 2K, 3BB, 4ER.
The Doncaster Women’s First IX would like to thank Rona Cannington for scoring throughout the season and to Sharon Gell also.
To Chelsea O’Connor, Adam Locklier, John Peterson for their coaching assistance.
To Rob Mitchell for setting up the ground for each home game and to John and Sandy Cliff – well, where do we start!
Also to Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars, the official team sponsor for season 2011/12.