It looked for two innings as though the Fort Frances Her-icanes were going to need to swing a redwood tree to get any piece of Shelby Nosan’s flurry of fastballs.
But a series of miscues in the third frame left the Dawson Tigers stumped as to how to defeat the defending champs.
Five errors led to six runs for the host ‘Canes, then another six-run inning in the sixth took care of the rest, as Fort Frances dumped Dawson 13-3 in the Winners’ Side final of the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League playoffs Monday evening at VanJura.
The ‘Canes now get to wait before hosting the first of two possible championship final games next Wednesday (Aug. 23) against whichever team emerges from the Losers’ Side bracket.
Currently undefeated in the double-elimination playoffs, the ‘Canes have two chances to clinch a repeat title.
Their opponent, on the other hand, will have to beat them at VanJura and then on their own home turf to take the crown away.
Nosan, the hard-throwing Baudette, Mn. native who pitches and plays shortstop for both the Tigers and the Stratton Eagles in the Rainy River District Fastball League, resembled a female Nolan Ryan with five-straight strikeouts over her first two innings.
She also smashed a lead-off triple in the first inning before being stranded at third.
The ‘Canes stayed patient, however, as the Tigers’ defence lived out a nightmare in the third.
Charity McMahon got to second base to start the inning when shortstop Laurie Fairfield threw wide of Candy Teeple at first.
Nosan struck out Taylor Pagee and Sarah Noonan, but a passed ball by catcher Meghan Bourgeois on strike three allowed Noonan to reach base.
Dana Ward then drove both runners home with a booming double over Charmaine Hunter in centre before taking third on a poor relay throw to the infield.
After Marissa Kerry walked, Laureen Hill singled home Ward to make it 3-0.
Stacy Patey then smacked a two-run triple to right and was awarded home when Tanis Tom’s throw from second bounced into the Tigers’ bench.
Teeple doubled home Fairfield after a lead-off triple in the fourth to get Dawson on the board.
Nosan belted her second triple in the fifth to bring in Shelley McDonald, then scored herself when Andrea Sweigard couldn’t squeeze a sinking liner from Alicia Anderson to cut the lead to 6-3.
Ward manufactured her own run in the bottom of the inning.
The all-star third baseman hit a rainbow single that dropped into right just over Tom, then advanced to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch.
Kerry struck out but Bourgeois again couldn’t corral strike three–forcing her to throw down to first to get Kerry, which allowed Ward to sprint home ahead of Teeple’s return throw.
Nosan’s busy weekend playing for the Northern Extremes at the NAFA World Series in Fargo, N.D. caught up to her in the sixth.
Lead-off walks to Norma Raether and McMahon were followed by a two-run, pinch-hit double by Nat Dal to make it 9-3.
Back-to-back singles by Noonan and Ward brought in Dal while another Fairfield error on Kerry’s grounder loaded the bases.
Hill then ended Nosan’s stay on the mound with a three-run double into the left-centre gap.
Kerry handled the rest, setting down the Tigers in order in the seventh to finish the six-hit complete game.
The other game Monday saw the stirring playoff run of the Emo Renegades come to an end in a 15-10 loss to the host Red Gut Babes.
Reigning league MVP Tracy Morningstar homered and went the distance on the rubber against the Renegades, who shrugged off a 5-11 regular season to make it into the final five left playing.
Red Gut led 12-3 at one point against Renegades’ starter Mykenzie Borger before Emo climbed to within 12-8 in the sixth, but could get no closer.
The Babes, who have been in all four finals since the league was revived in 2013, will try to move closer to a fifth-straight appearance when they host the Northwest Bay Beavers for another elimination matchup tonight at 6:30 p.m.
That winner then will host Dawson on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Losers’ Side final to decide who will face the ‘Canes for the league title.