Sharks are softball champions
BALLINA Sharks swam their way to grand final glory in outclassing Rous Rangers 10-0 in the Far North Coast Division 1 softball grand final.
The game was played in horrendously wet conditions, making it difficult to control the ball and forcing ground staff to work overtime.
Lead-off batter Michelle Lucas opened the Sharks' scoring with a massive home run through leftfield before Rangers' Samone Lowe at shortstop and Courtney Oag at second base threw out the next two batters at first.
Hits from Karen Evans and Sally McMahon put Sharks runners on base before Libby Cramp at first base ran down a foul fly ball from Nicole Bruce to shut down the innings.
Courtney Oag led Rangers' reply with a two-out hit to third sending water flying on the rain-soaked grounds but getting her on base.
Loris Gordon hit hard to Claire Evans at shortstop, who slid across the ground on her knees and in an amazing effort threw Gordon out at first for the third out.
Going into the top of second innings the rain poured down again but it didn't stop Ballina ramping up their attack.
Ballina's lead-off batter in the second innings was hit by a pitched ball and awarded first base.
A muffed fly in the outfield and a sacrifice bunt by Hannah Green advanced runners into scoring position then a single by Claire Evans to centrefield, a double from Karen Evans and a three-base hit from McMahon took the Sharks out to a 6-0 lead.
Lucas struck out the next three batters and Ballina were well on top.
The diamond looked like a pool and fielding for both teams was proving difficult but Ballina continued to dominate with Lucas in devasting form on the pitcher's plate, striking out eight batters in total.
ROUS Warriors sprinted to a 6-0 lead in the first innings of the Division 2 grand final against Casino/Dodgers and went on to win it 8-5.
An explosion of hits to the outfield from Jakira Toniello, Natalyia Lees, Sandy Thompson, Betty McPaul, Tania Harris-Bateman and Libby Cramp gave Warriors a handy lead after dismissing Casino/Dodgers without scoring.
With Kayleen Shailes taking over the pitching, the combined side slowly found form but not before Warriors had scored another two runs.
Both sides were competitive in the next three innings in the extreme conditions with Casino/Dodgers keeping Warriors scoreless for the rest of the game.
Lachlan Coe took two great catches at rightfield and narrowly missed a third in a diving slide while Brooke Wilson was always solid at third base.
For Warriors, Cramp was sensational at first base and was supported by McPaul at shortstop, who completed several key outs.
The battery of Esther Denning pitching to Toniello restricted the Casino/Dodgers scoring.
But that costly first innings was too much for the composite side to overcome, with Warriors sealing the major premiership.
THE experience of Ballina Hammerheads outlasted a determined Rous Rascals 7-4 in the Division 3 grand final.
Hammerheads jumped out to an early lead, scoring five runs, with Margaret Rushford hitting safely to reach first base.
A single by Jodi Suitor, a ground-out by Carolyn Donald and a single by Holly Cameron advanced the runners.
Rous Rascals responded with one run off the bat of Kaliyah Browning.
Young Nikesha McPaul, pitching to sister Sharmeeka, struck out two batters to end the next innings and prevent Hammerheads from extending their lead.
But Ballina came at Rascals again with Suitor, Donald, Cameron and Montana Stocks all attacking the ball to score one run.
Two brilliant plays by Rascals followed, with rightfielder Caitlyn Robinson throwing a runner out heading for home plate and pitcher McPaul combining with her sister to tag the runner out at home, saving two runs from being scored.
In the end it was to no avail, with Hammerheads adding to their total with a run in each remaining innings to get them across the line.