The New South Wales Firestars have won their 23rd Gilley’s Shield with a 2-1 victory over the South Australia Starz in a game which saw a two hour delay due to blackouts across Perth.
The Starz needed to firstly get through a tough Queensland outfit and thanks to the pitching prowess of U.S. import Jailyn Ford, they advanced with a thrilling 2-1 victory in the Preliminary Final.
Ford stayed on song and was able to match Kaia Parnaby innings for innings with no runs scored through the first four stanzas.
The Firestars broke the deadlock in the bottom of the fifth after getting lead off batter Mya Geros on first and pushed to second by a Tahli Moore sacrifice bunt.
Rachel Lack, who threatened earlier in the game at bat, finally got hold of Ford’s pitch with a triple to right outfield and put Geros over home plate to give NSW a 1-0 lead into the top of the sixth.
Not to be outdone, the Starz immediately hit back with the one-two punch of Belinda White and Maddie Cameron reaching third and second base respectively, White later crossing off a sacrifice fly to square the game at 1-1.
Jordan Lambert’s strong form in the batters box continued to advance Cameron to third and get herself on first, later stealing second to threaten to take the lead, however brilliance in the outfield from Michelle Cox who took a spectacular diving catch and converted it into a double play, kept them away from home plate.
Mirrabooka then succumbed to the city wide blackout in Perth, plunging the diamonds in darkness at the top of the seventh inning.
After what felt like an eternity to softball fans around the country, play resumed with NSW quickly getting their third out and getting a chance to close out the game in the bottom of the seventh, but were unable to get home leading to extra innings.
The Starz stuck with Ford who pitched the entire Preliminary Final while Ellen Roberts was entrusted to close out the game for the Firestars with the championship on the line.
More brilliance in the outfield, this time from the Starz, when Cameron fired in a Lack fly ball to catcher White who tagged the NSW runner heading for home, forcing a ninth inning.
They couldn’t repeat the performance again when Stacey Porter put a fly ball out to right field, Lack raced home, just beating the tag and securing the Firestars fourth consecutive and 23rd Gilley’s Shield in total.
Following the Gilley’s Shield is the Australia Pacific Cup at Blacktown International Sportspark with two Australian teams to be selected to compete against Mexico, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei.
Midge Nelson Medal (Tournament MVP) – Yui Sakamoto (WA)
Sybil Turner Medal (Best Batter) – Chelsea Forkin (Qld)
Lorraine Woolley Medal (Best Pitcher) – Jailyn Ford (SA)
Rosemary Adey Rookie of the Year – Charisma Kerr (Qld)
Grand Final MVP – Rachel Lack (NSW)
Grand Final Box Score
Preliminary Final Box Score