Beavers blow out ’Canes

Joey Payeur

Even a fully-healthy pitcher may not have been able to stop the Northwest Bay Beavers last night.
A chucker with a damaged wing never had a chance.
The Beavers racked up a 14-0 lead and never looked back in rolling to a 19-4 decision over the Fort Frances Her-icanes in the Losers Side final in the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League playoffs at VanJura Park.
No. 3-ranked Northwest Bay avenged an 18-17 walk-off loss to the No. 2-rated ’Canes at the same venue on Aug. 3 and will take a three-game winning streak into Game 1 of the championship final on the road against the two-time defending champion and fourth-seeded Red Gut Babes on Monday in Red Gut Bay at 6 p.m.
The Babes, unbeaten in the playoffs so far at 3-0, need only to beat the Beavers (4-1) on Monday to clinch the three-peat.
But if Northwest Bay can pull off the victory, the Beavers will get to host a winner-take-all rematch next Wednesday (Aug. 19).
The two teams tied 9-9 in their first meeting this season on May 19 before Red Gut grabbed an 8-2 victory on June 29 in their last encounter.
Her-icanes captain Stacy Patey kept things in a positive light after the loss.
“This has been a great year for us,” said the centre fielder.
“Whether we were winning or losing, we really pulled together as a team,” she added.
“We encouraged each other and pumped each other up. We have a few new girls this year that fit in perfectly.
“Our league has grown so much this year and all of the players have improved so much,” noted Patey.
Fort Frances righthander Micaela Jack tried bravely to pitch through an injury to her throwing arm sustained while playing, ironically, as a pickup player for Red Gut in helping them win a tournament in Sabaskong this past weekend.
But Jack looked uncomfortable from the get-go, walking three and giving up four runs in the first inning as the Beavers pounced early.
Darcy Smith, who scattered 12 hits to pick up the complete-game victory with one walk and six strikeouts, kicked off a 3-for-5 night at the plate for a game-high five RBI by hammering a one-out offering from Jack to centre.
Patey lost track of the ball for a second and had it go just over her head for a two-run triple to score Shae-lynn Smith and Teresa Smith.
The Beavers pitcher then scored herself on a wild pitch before Joyce Smith added an RBI single to bring in Val Smith.
Northwest Bay added three more in the second on RBI groundouts by Lori and Trish Smith sandwiched around Darcy Smith’s RBI single.
The wheels came off the ’Canes wagon in the third in a five-run Beavers outburst.
Connie and Joyce Smith singled to start the inning and Lana Smith followed with an RBI single for an 8-0 lead.
Shae-Lynn Smith then walked and Lori Smith drew a bases-loaded walk right after.
Darcy Smith then looped a popup just over second baseman Amy Penner’s head into shallow right field to bring home two more.
Fort shortstop Jessica Woodgate, who persevered through severe cramps in both legs just minutes apart that temporarily felled her while she was in the field in the top of the fifth, couldn’t corral a one-hopper from Trish Smith that brought in the final run of the frame for a 12-0 Beavers lead.
Laureen Hill took the mound to start the fourth for Jack (3 IP, 12 runs, nine hits, six walks) and shut out Northwest Bay in the stanza.
But the Beavers returned to form in the fifth, scoring twice on wild pitches from Hill (four IP, seven runs, seven hits, one strikeout).
Fort Frances finally cracked the goose egg against Darcy Smith in the fifth when Jack smashed a one-out double to centre.
As she rounded second, the relay throw from centre bounced away from Val Smith and rolled out of play.
With Jack already partially headed to third, she was awarded home plate on the play.
The ’Canes seemed to get some momentum from that, with Hill and Patey then pounding out back-to-back singles.
But the rally died thanks to good defence from the Beavers, as Shae-lynn Smith gunned out Hill from her catcher’s position as Hill tried to take third on a wild pitch.
Charity McMahon then lined out sharply to Val Smith at second to close out the inning.
Shae-lynn Smith followed up her defensive effort with a leadoff triple in the sixth which turned into a run when McMahon couldn’t squeeze the relay throw home, with the two catchers colliding heavily at the plate before umpire Carey Gosselin called the Beavers’ base runner safe to make it 15-1.
The Fort’s No. 1-ranked offence from the regular season gave one final demonstration to fortify that fact, collecting three in the bottom of the sixth to make it 15-4.
Andrea Sweigard brought in Woodgate with an RBI groundout and Dana Ward smacked an RBI single to center to cash in Kristina Bombay.
Jack then singled to left, where Teresa Smith made her only mistake of a terrific four-catch night by booting the ball to let Ward score from second.
But Northwest Bay quelled any comeback plans with four in the seventh on Joyce Smith’s RBI single and a bases-loaded, three-run double which exploded off the bat of Shae-lynn Smith.
Trish Smith finished off the ’Canes in the seventh with another diamond gem for the Beavers, racing over from her shortstop position to track down Sweigard’s popup in shallow right field.
“It really could have been anybody’s year this year,” summarized Patey.
“I can’t wait to play next year. Good luck to both teams next week.”