After a highly entertaining and action packed week of softball the 2016 Arthur Allsopp Shield entered its fifth day on Thursday. With the playoffs fast approaching each side entered the day hoping to gain momentum and finish off the group stage in positive fashion.
After a challenging week it was Victoria who provided the highlight of the day after registering their first win of the tournament with an impressive victory over hosts WA. Heading in to the final three games of the day the top four sides had secured a place in the playoffs, giving each state an opportunity to gain momentum heading in to the penultimate day of the competition.
Game 1: Victoria 13 defeated WA 5
As the heat increased it was hosts WA who started the days play against Victoria at the Mirrabooka Softball Complex. After a tough week it was Victoria who entered this game looking to end their campaign on a high with their first win of the tournament.
Meanwhile, WA entered this match with a spot in the top four already confirmed although the hosts were looking to gain momentum out of this clash after mixed results throughout the tournament.
It was evident early on that the heat would play a big factor in this match up as both teams started the match conservatively. With a large crowd gathered behind the diamond WA were looking to impress their home fans with a solid performance but it was Victoria who started the game as the better team by taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd innings. The game lifted to a new level when it entered in to the 4th innings as both teams combined for a 10 run innings but again it was Victoria who added another two runs to their lead.
With the game in their advantage, a rarity in this tournament, Victoria were able to put the game out of WA’s reach when they added another 5 runs at the top of the 5th innings to extend their lead to 9. The hosts weren’t able to respond and Victoria finally had their first win of the tournament with an impressive display, winning the game 13-5!
In a strong display by Victoria it was the individual efforts of Ryan Evans (3 AB, 3 R, 1 H, 2 RBI) and Tai Crean (2 AB, 1 R, 1 h, 3 RBI) who combined in a strong team effort to ensure Victoria left the Championships on a high. In a dissapointing display by the hosts, it was Western Australia’s Jett Wright who continued his outstanding tournament at the plate going 3 for 3 with 1 RBI and 2 runs, however he and his team were looking to bounce back later in the day against competition leaders Queensland.
Game 2: NSW 2 defeated Queensland 0
Next up on Diamond 1 it was a top of the table clash between unbeaten leaders Queensland and a confident NSW. It was a game that promised so much and both teams were praised for the high quality game they put on during a very hot and humid afternoon.
After 6 unbeaten games in the tournament it was Queensland who could use the final two games of the day to rotate their squad in preparation for the playoffs. For NSW a win would secure a top two position and allow them a double chance heading in to the penultimate day of the tournament. With many spectators gathering to witness this match many believed it could be a preview to the grand final later in the week, however both the ACT and WA will be looking to change that.
As the two strongest teams of the group stages the match was set to be a close one with both teams wanting to walk away with the win for different reasons. It was evident early on that there wouldn’t be much to separate the two sides and it soon came down to a shootout between Queensland pitcher Layton Reid and New South Wales pitcher Thomas Zeylemaker. With both boys pitching extremely well batsmen from both dugouts found it very difficult to register a hit with the scores being tied at 0-0 after 7 innings!
With the game taken to an 8th innings tiebreak both sides were finding it tough in the hot conditions. It was NSW who were able to clinch victory in the tiebreak due to a 2-out homerun to right-centre field from Mac Reith-Snare to finally end Queensland’s unbeaten run and secure the boys in light blue a top 2 finish!
In the end it was Zeylemaker who came out on top leading NSW to an impressive victory by pitching all 8 innings for 4 hits, 0 runs and 7 strikeouts. In an equally notable performance Reid almost got Queensland over the line by also pitching all 8 innings for 3 hits, 2 runs and 11 strikeouts.
Game 3: ACT 10 v NSW 1
Game three of the fifth days play featured the ACT against NSW. With other results playing out throughout the day, the ACT entered this match with third place secured, whereas the NSW win in the tiebreak over Queensland earlier in the day had secured them second position. Although the match didn’t bare any significance on the tournament ladder it was an important game for both sides as they looked to enter day six of competition full of confidence. It was the ACT who entered the diamond looking fresh and determined to post a win in the penultimate group stage match. After a long and exhausting match earlier in the day with Queensland it was NSW who were unable to challenge the ACT. In the bottom of the 4th innings it was the ACT who took a 10-1 lead after an impressive performance at the plate by a number of players. With NSW unable to make a comeback in the contest the game ended early in the fifth with ACT coming out 10-1 victors.
In a notable performance by the ACT, it was the offensive game of Christian Palombi who went 3 for 4 with 1 RBI and 3 runs and the defensive game of Jerone Tan who pitched all 5 innings for 4 hits, 1 run and 6 strikeouts who were the standout performers in a match that showed glimpses of the ACT’s form from earlier in the week.
Game 4: WA 5 defeated Queensland 1
After an entertaining five days of group stage action the final game featured hosts WA against leaders Queensland. Much like the earlier match this contest again saw both teams wanting to head in to the playoffs with momentum on their side. After a dominant tournament it was Queensland who suffered their first loss earlier in the day and looked to get back to winning ways when they came up against a WA side who appeared to be lacking confidence after an inconsistent week of softball.
With a large crowd building for an entertaining clash, the home crowd were hoping to see their side head in to the playoffs full of confidence with a win over a solid Queensland side. It was the home side who gave spectators at the Mirrabooka Softball Complex exactly what they paid to see as WA came out 5-1 victors.
It was Western Australia’s Jett Wright who again stepped up with bat in hand by going 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs in yet another impressive display by one of the standout performers in the tournament thus far. Wright was well supported by another notable performer, Aaron Nudds who pitched all 7 innings for 4 hits, 1 run and 7 strikeouts.
Play is almost underway for day 6 at the Mirrabooka Softball Complex – see all the live play by plays via the Softball Australia website results: http://softballbackup.softball.org.au/drawresult.asp?comp=39763&OrgID=1&menu=15833