Ramblers double act wins finals
There were twice as many reasons for the Mt Albert Ramblers Softball Club to celebrate on Saturday.
The club’s men and women’s sides won their respective finals in the Auckland fastpitch champs at Rosedale Park.
The men’s side didn’t have it all their own way in their title defence against local rivals Auckland United, taking out a 6-5 victory in a match that went down to the wire.
Going into the match United had recent form on their side, notching up two wins over Ramblers this season, though the gap between the teams was always close.
But Ramblers know how to win finals matches, with the victory their fifth consecutive Auckland title.
Two previously out-of-form players Bernard Hale and Bobbie King stood up when it counted for Ramblers, with both belting home runs.
And Matthew Hicks added another late in the game to give the reigning champs the edge they needed.
New internationals Ben and Thomas Enoka were the stand-out players for United with Ben smacking four hits from his four turns at bat and Thomas three, as well as pitching a strong game.
Both hit home runs but the rest of the side could only manage two hits.
The next challenge for Ramblers is a defence of their national club title in a fortnight. If they’re successful it’ll make them the top club in the country for the third year running.
For Ramblers women their second consecutive finals win was an upset over hot favourite Waitakere Bears. The Bears had won 19 games in a row, before the 8-2 loss to Ramblers.
Former international Tuhi Cooper was in outstanding form along with pitcher Carina Hale.
During the semifinal earlier in the day, Ramblers edged out Marist 3-2.
It’s been an impressive couple of years for Ramblers who were promoted into the top grade last season.
Ramblers take part in the women’s nationals starting tonight.
Hitting out: Mt Albert Ramblers’ Matthew Hicks sends the ball into the outfield during their 6-5 victory over Auckland United in the Auckland fastpitch softball final at Rosedale Park on Saturday.
Strike a pose: Cheerleaders Casey Scott, left, and Josie Yockney show off their skills before they travel to the Cheerleading Worlds at Disney World in April.