Upstart Tigers roar into first berth in finals

Staff

The Red Gut Babes have come back from the dead countless times over the past five seasons.
But the grave they dug themselves Monday evening was too deep even for them to escape.
The sixth-ranked Dawson Tigers, meanwhile, confirmed they were no one-hit wonder–beating the second-seeded Babes on their own diamond for the second time in less than three weeks.
This time, the 10-7 victory in the Rainy River District Women’s Fastball League Losers’ Side final means the Babes’ streak of four-straight seasons making the league championship final is over.
Instead, it will be the Tigers trying to overthrow the top-ranked and defending champion Fort Frances Her-icanes, beginning with Game 1 tonight at 6 p.m. at VanJura here.
The ‘Canes, who have yet to lose at home this season, went 13-2 during the regular season before going 4-0 in the playoffs so far.
That gave them the Winners’ Side title and the major advantage of having to win just once in this possible two-game series.
Dawson will have to beat the ‘Canes tonight to force Game 2 at home on Monday (Aug. 28) at 6 p.m. and get a chance to capture its first-ever RRDWFL championship.
It’s been a storybook playoff run for the Tigers, who went just 7-6-1 during the regular season.
But with some timely hitting and defence, combined with the pitching tandem of Alicia Anderson and Shelby Nosan, Dawson has gone on a 4-1 run in the postseason.
The Tigers’ lone blemish came two weeks ago when some third-inning miscues, coupled with a fatigued Nosan getting battered in the sixth, led to a pair of six-run innings for the ‘Canes in a 13-3 victory in the Winners’ Side final.
The bullet-armed Nosan looked more like herself through the first four innings Monday night, holding the Babes’ potent offence to just one hit and two walks.
Meanwhile, last season’s league MVP took it on the chin thanks, in large part, to be wild.
Tracy Morningstar wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the first, striking out Charmaine Hunter before getting Shelly McDonald to fly out to centre.
But after a 1-2-3 second, Morningstar’s control issues that have plagued her this season came back to haunt her in a 13-batter inning that ended with the Tigers leading 8-0 despite getting just two hits.
The righthander walked Rachel Carter, then hit Candy Teeple–one of three batters Morningstar plunked in the frame.
With one out, Laurie Fairfield smacked a single to left to score Carter with the game’s opening run, although Anderson was thrown out at third on the play.
The Tigers then launched a mammoth two-out rally.
Fairfield moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Babes’ catcher Kayla Windigo fired her pick-off attempt down the left-field line.
Nosan then crushed a triple to left before Hunter was hit and stole second, which set up McDonald’s two-run single to centre for a 4-0 lead.
After Morningstar walked Cass Teeple, she drilled Rebecca Tolen in the knee–forcing her to leave the game.
With the bases loaded, Meghan Bourgeois and Carter both worked Morningstar for RBI walks, causing Lynn Windego to take over.
But the beat went on as Windego walked Teeple to make it 7-0.
Then with Anderson up, Windigo whipped a throw down to first to check on Teeple. Bourgeois didn’t hesitate for a second, exploding off third and arriving safely ahead of the return throw.
Red Gut finally found a chink in the Tigers’ armour in the fifth.
Beulah Perreault led off with a walk and scored on Krystal Windego’s single to right. Late throws to third and then to second allowed Perreault to hustle home.
Mel Jones hit a two-out grounder to Fairfield at short, whose throw home was wide to allow Windego to come in.
Taylor Windego then singled home Jones.
Dawson got two of those runs back in the sixth.
Fairfield singled and Nosan walked before advancing on a wild pitch, with Windigo’s throw to third to try and nail Fairfield bouncing by the bag to let the Dawson shortstop ramble in.
McDonald then looped an infield hit just over Perreault at second to cash in Nosan.
The Babes had a golden chance to cut into the lead in their half of the sixth, loading the bases with two out.
But Bourgeois was quick as a cat in tracking down Nosan’s wild pitch and tossed the ball quickly to her pitcher covering home.
Nosan then tagged the knee of Lynn Windego trying to make it home.
The Babes launched one final challenge on a cool night that saw its fair share of rain falling throughout the game.
Jones walked, moved to third when Bourgeois’ pick-off throw to first went low and past Teeple, and then scored on Nosan’s wild pitch.
Taylor Windego beat out an infield hit, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by Kayla Windigo, who, in turn, scored on Alyssa Windego’s RBI single to make it 10-6.
Nosan got Lynn Windego to pop out on a bunt attempt, then induced Perreault’s grounder to second that brought home Alyssa Windego.
Krystal Windego walked to bring the tying run to the plate, with a full-throated Babes’ bench sensing yet another triumph over adversity in the making.
But Nosan would have none of it–blowing three fastballs past Anita Johnson, the third of which was dropped by Bourgeois but she casually tossed to first for the final out with Johnson not even trying to make it down the baseline.
Nosan finished with a five-hit complete game while Morningstar took the loss.