The Championship was won with all of the players being U18, having an average age of just over 16 years
For the second season in a row the Għajnsielem Redcoats have won the National Fastpitch Championship organised by the Malta Baseball & Softball Association (MABS). On Sunday, they played Game 5 of the Championship Series in Mellieha against the Curves and pulled off an amazing 16-8 victory to clinch the title, winning the best-of-seven series 4-1.
The Redcoats scored five runs in the top of the 2nd inning to take a 7-2 lead and then administered that advantage for the rest of the game. The Curves threatened often but never managed to get that clutch hit they needed. The closest they came was in the bottom of the 3rd inning when they scored three runs to close the gap to 8-6. However, the Redcoats promptly scored another five runs in the top of the 4th inning to effectively close the game.
It was the best offensive performance of the year, as the Redcoats registered a season high 12 hits. Kimberley Scerri had her best game of her career with three hits and two walks, scoring two runs and batting another three runs in. Similarly for Marilise Vella, who had two hits, including a triple, three walks, scored three runs and batted two runs in. Corinne Grima had two hits and walked twice, scored two runs and batted in another two runs. She picked up an injury during the game but played on despite the pain. So did Ilena Buttigieg, registering two hits, two walks, scored two runs and batted two runs in. Daphne Cassar, Simona Refalo & Monique Camilleri also contributed with a hit each. Maria Vella walked and scored a run. Estelle Scicluna walked four times and scored two runs.
The new-look infield is improving and defensively this was the Redcoats’ best game since Game 1. Daphne Cassar playing at 1st base had seven put-outs and an assist. Ilena Buttigieg playing at 2nd base, had two assists and a put-out, while Monique Camilleri, filling in at short stop, also had a put-out. Corinne Grima playing catcher, the most demanding position in softball, was also outstanding. The Redcoats have been looking for a catcher since they started to play this sport. Last season Corinne volunteered to be the catcher of the team, and through hard work she has become the best at that position. She managed to improve from game to game, giving her pitchers confidence.
Starting pitcher, Estelle Scicluna, despite playing with an injury, pitched an excellent game going the full six innings, striking out nine hitters, and walked only two. Out of the eight runs allowed only two were earned. Over the five games she struck out 32% of the hitters she faced, averaging 1.6 strike-outs per inning, while walking just eight hitters or 0.31 per inning. Her earned run average (ERA) was of 2.96, which is considered excellent at this level. Just like her teammates, Estelle improved significantly from last season, and that goes down to her commitment towards the game and the team, as well as her determination to achieve her full potential.
It was a great team effort with the Redcoats demonstrating how much they have improved since last season. Despite missing key players they managed to pull it off in style. The Championship was won with all of the players being U18. The average age of the players was just over 16 years, two years lower than the average age of the Redcoats’ team which won the league last season. Among the nine players in Game 5, four started playing softball last season.
The Mellieha Curves were worthy opponents. Following Game 1, when they were somewhat overpowered by the Redcoats’ pitchers, they adapted and from Game 2 onwards they improved steadily. Just like the Redcoats, they also lost key players along the way, and due to the lack of depth in their squad they suffered more than the Redcoats did. The Curves have excellent coaching, and now that they are aware of the level that the Redcoats have achieved, will work hard to go up to that level.
Over the past twelve months the Redcoats endured much, but the players along with their coaches stayed together and worked even harder to overcome the challenges and achieve such an outstanding accomplishment, CHAMPIONS OF MALTA!
The work will not stop here. This week the Redcoats will commence preparations for the commitments that they have this summer. They will participate in two international tournaments, the first one is scheduled for the first weekend of July and the other one in mid-August.
After the game MABS Director of Softball, Mr Chuck Micallef, presented the Redcoats with medals and the winner’s trophy to Redcoats’ captain, Estelle Scicluna.