By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – You’d expect to see about a dozen frowns after the Tigers blitzed the Bandits 21-1 in the championship game of the Bristol Girls Little League Softball Series game from the McCabe-Waters softball field on Thursday, Aug. 29.
The Tigers wrapped up the series 2-0 and reclaimed the title it last won in 2011.
But after the grueling contest, there wasn’t a sad face on the field seen by anyone.
And consider that a mission accomplished by all involved.
It’s about fun, it’s about togetherness, and it’s about playing a little softball and enjoying the moment that they’re in right then and there.
While the Tigers, the 2013 City Series Champions, were busy posing with its new trophy, the Bandits were actually running around the bases like fools and sliding into home plate – laughing the whole time while doing it.
It’s what Little League Softball should be all about.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Bandits coach Steve Masi. “Look at them right now, they’re still smiling. These girls showed heart, you know what I mean? And they didn’t get down on themselves. When one of the girls came out, normally, they’d be down but it shows, the biggest thing is having fun.”
“Bristol Girls Little League needs more of this in order to really progress further with this league.”
The game itself was over early as the Tigers zipped up six runs in first and an additional 15 in the second to collect the championship trophy.
For the Tigers, Zayanne Colon, Paige Mangiafico, and Gabby Schinkle collected hits while Ali Rivoira, Riley Giblin, and Sabrina Lumbra did the same for the Bandits.
“We both have solid teams,” said Tigers coach Gail Ericson. “(Masi) has an excellent defensive team (and) his infield is usually so solid. I think I do too. (Today), it just came down to pitching.”
Eric Girard was sensational on the mound, giving up just one run off three hits while punching out six batters to pick up her second consecutive victory for the Tigers.
“The pitching definitely” was there, said Ericson.
But in the top of the first, the Bandits – like they did in the cancelled game from the day previous because of the weather – look poised to strike first.
Rivoira drilled out a single to get onboard in the first, quickly took second, but got stranded there as Girard picked up three strikeouts in the frame to keep the Bandits off the board.
With Kayli Ortiz on the mound for the Bandits, the Tigers loaded up the bases as Erika Santilli (two walks, three runs, HBP), Colon (1-for-1, RBI, three runs scored) and Olivia Beaudoin (three walks, three runs, RBI) all got on.
From there, Girard (0-for-1, two runs, three RBI) drew an RBI base-on-balls as did Paige Mangiafico (1-for-1, two runs, three RBI) and the Tigers went ahead 2-0 in the game.
The Tigers batted around in the stanza and by the end of the frame, it was a 6-0 push in the home team’s favor.
Lumbra smashed a single to left to open the second inning and moved to second base off a fielder’s choice by Kayla Beaulieu.
Off a strikeout to Kaylie Masi and a walk to Alyssa Masi – loading up the bases – Carol Surgrue drew a walk to score Lumbra and cut the deficit to 6-1.
But in the bottom of the second, it was all about the Tigers.
The Bandits went through four pitchers in the inning and Beaulieu was the one to finally tally the precious outs to end the 15-run second tilt.
Two hits marked a magnificent inning as Schinkle smashed a single to net two runs and with two down, Mangiafico blazed a two-RBI base hit to right and by the end of the frame, it was a 21-1 push by the Tigers.
“They hit (the ball),” said Ericson of her team.
In the third and final inning of the evening, Giblin laced a two-out single to center but one out later, the Tigers had its championship and wrapped up a 20-run victory for the City Series Championship.
“From beginning to end, they are still smiling,” said Masi. “So putting in the girls left and right, they didn’t mind and normally, they’re down on themselves. But it’s all learning and they have to develop somehow. The one thing I definitely know from the first game until now (is) that they all progressed.”
“They all improved in some way or fashion.”
And for the Tigers, it was icing on the cake for the champions.
“This is my first time ever being involved in this,” said Ericson. “I was a high school coach. This is totally new for me and the majors thing and the City Series. The girls are all excited, the girls are all hyped up which they should be.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE