That gust of wind you feel is from the Fort Frances Her-icanes cruising to another championship.
Marissa Kerry pitched a complete-game five-hitter to pace the fourth-seeded Her-icanes to a 12-4 romp over the second-seeded Red Gut Babes to claim their third-straight Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League title.
It also was the first time in league history that a team has won it all three years in a row.
“We are totally pumped for our ‘three-peat,'” enthused Her-icanes’ captain Stacy Patey, who also serves as the league president.
“This is the first time in our league that it has been done and we have all worked very hard.
“We put in a lot of practice and it paid off,” she lauded. “Marissa pitched a great game and we had to support her with our bats.”
It actually was the Babes who opened the scoring in the top of the first inning, plating three runs off of throwing errors, a pair of singles, and a walk.
But Kerry–and the ‘Canes–settled down after that, keeping the Babes’ offence at bay until the seventh.
The ‘Canes roared back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first off Babes’ starter Tracy Morningstar.
After Kerry reached on a one-out infield single and later stole third after Jess Woodgate grounded out, Patey smacked an infield single of her own to trim the deficit to 3-1.
After Norma Reather walked, Charity McMahon struck out but was able to reach base after the ball got away from Babes’ catcher Kayla Windigo.
Taylor Pagee then slapped a bases-clearing double to centre to put the Her-icanes up 4-3.
“We played really hard and stayed positive,” noted Patey. “The Babes got three runs up on us in the first so we knew we had to get those back right away.
“They are a very strong team and we couldn’t let them get too big of a lead on us,” she stressed.
“When we have a couple of errors on the field, then it’s ‘Okay, ladies, we got work to do. Let’s be hard on the bats now!'”
After Kerry held the Babes’ hitters in check in the top of the second, Amy Penner led off the bottom half with a double to centre.
A Dana Ward ground-out moved her to third and she came into score after Kerry reached base due to a throwing error.
Kerry later came around to score an another ground-out to push the lead to 6-3.
The ‘Canes tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth when Ward smacked a two-out double before scoring on a triple by Kerry.
It was in the bottom of the sixth when Fort Frances really put the game out of reach for Red Gut.
After Sarah Noonan led off the frame with a single, Andrea Sweigard grounded out before Penner drew a walk off of Morningstar.
Ward then grounded out but Kerry came through by ripping a triple off of Taylor Windego’s glove in centrefield to push it to 9-3.
Woodgate then cashed her in with an infield hit before swiping second, followed by Patey singling her home to make it a seven-run lead at 11-3.
Reather followed that up with a double to score Patey although she was gunned out by Windigo at third base while trying to stretch it into a triple to end the inning.
Windigo gave the Babes one last glimmer of hope in the top of the seventh, making it all the way to third base after no one could make the grab on a one-out pop fly.
She then came into score on wild pitch from Kerry to trim it to 12-4 but that’s as close as the Babes would get.
Kerry induced a pair of ground-outs around a single to end the game and preserve the win.
“Every year this league is getting tougher and tougher,” said Patey. “There were so many one-run games this year and the playoff games were all very close.
“You can’t take any teams for granted,” she stressed.
“We are all out there to win it!” Patey added. “We have tremendous respect for each other and for the game.”
Kerry finished with seven strikeouts while allowing just four runs.
Morningstar was saddled with the season-ending loss, allowing all 12 runs while striking out two.