Playoff win adds exclamation to girls' softball season
|Island Family Physicians catcher Molly McDonough was behind the plate for each of the 19 games that IFP played this season.
A 6-3 Island Family Physicians win over the Bradenton Elks on Saturday, May 22, culminated a fantastic softball season for the 10-and-under Island girls. They finished the regular season on top of their division with a 15-2 record before sweeping two playoff games to claim the postseason title.
In the title playoff game, IFP jumped on top of the Bradenton Elks for five runs in the bottom of the first. Hailey Dearlove and Martine Miller led off with singles and, after moving up the bases on a passed ball, Dearlove scooted home with IFP's first run of the game on an RBI ground-out by Emma Barlow. A single by Ally Titsworth brought Miller across the plate, while hits by Ashley Waring and Paige Morris were sandwiched around Molly McDonough's grounder that got booted for an error to produce runs by Titsworth, Waring and McDonough - effectively putting the game out of reach of the Elks.
The game was out of reach largely because IFP pitchers Barlow and Dearlove limited the Elks to only two hits and three unearned runs. Barlow started and pitched to seven batters, allowing one hit and two runs before giving way to Dearlove with no outs in the second. Dearlove allowed only one run the rest of the way to close the game out.
Titsworth went 2-for-2 with one run scored to pace the IFP offense, which also received a single and one run scored from Dearlove, Miller, Barlow and Waring. Morris and Kristi Wickersham each contributed singles to the offense, while McDonough added one run scored in the victory.
The playoffs were a continuation of the accomplishments that IFP had during its regular season. That is, they won games because they had a timely offense and played tough defense behind a trio of talented pitchers. Titsworth, Barlow and Dearlove made Coach Julie Dearlove's job much easier. If one of them was off her game, having two other pitchers available that could throw strikes proved to be invaluable.
Barlow and Dearlove led the team with six wins apiece with Barlow throwing 21 innings and Dearlove pitching 24 innings. Titsworth added five wins in 24 innings of mound work for the IFP team.
IFP received strong defensive play from a variety of players who got a chance to play more than one position in the field. Miller played first base along with Titsworth, who also played third or outfield when she wasn't pitching, while Kelly Guerin, Waring, Kristi Wickersham, Savannah Schield and Dearlove logged time at second base and in the outfield.
Nicole Botero, Guerin and Morris handled the hot corner, while Barlow was the primary shortstop. When she pitched, Dearlove ably filled in for her. McDonough was the catcher in all 19 games and made several outstanding plays at home during key moments in a couple of close games.
Offensively IFP was led by Titsworth and Barlow, who led the team in hits while compiling a hefty .780 on-base percentage. Botero, Guerin and Dearlove followed with a .630 on-base percentage while Wickersham, McDonough, Morris and Schield each had key hits during their playoff run.
"We had a great year because we had a great group of girls," stated Coach Dearlove. "These girls have a lot of talent and were able to dominate the league because of their athletic ability."
Coach Dearlove went on to say that IFP had good support from parents and coaches like Steve Titsworth and Ron McDonough. Coach Titsworth served as the "ball four" pitcher during games, while Coach McDonough pitched batting practice and coached first base for IFP.
Congratulations to all of the players, parents and coaches.
Anna Maria Center day at the Trop is tops
Nose bleeds and vertigo issues aside, Anna Maria Island Community Center day at Tropicana Field in St. Pete was a blast for a couple of reasons. No. 1, the Center earned $2,100 for selling 300 or so tickets a crowd of fans for the May 30 game against the New York Yankees. No. 2- No. 1 as far as this writer is concerned - is the fact that the Devil Rays came away with an exciting 7-6 victory in front of 26,000-plus fans, including the resident Yankee fans who somehow flip to become Rays fans if the Rays pull out a win.
Last but not least is the fact that while the Island was teaming with tourist beachgoers, broiling in the 94-degree heat, the people who took in the game were basking in 72-degree comfort, enjoying good stadium food and drink and an exciting game that saw the Rays hit three home runs - two by Aubrey Huff - in a 7-6 triumph that knocked the Yankees out of first place.
No. 1 ticket seller Jimmy Stewart threw out the first pitch to Raymond the Rays' mascot and threw it right down the pike for a strike while the hundreds of Islander fans that made the trip all seemed to have a great time.
As for the nose bleeds and vertigo, that is attributed to our seats in Section 302 which is the third level up directly behind home plate. Though the view from the seats (way) up there isn't bad, I'm much more comfortable in my usual spot, 20 rows up from the Rays dugout.
A big thanks to Scott Dell and Andy Jonatzke of the Center for the invitation and tickets and a big thanks to the Devil Rays and Barry Jones who helped put the trip together and arranged for pre-game field passes and a game photographer's pass. My sister-in-law Erin Canniff, who accompanied me to the game, was just a little excited to be that close to Yankee shortstop, lady-killer Derek Jeter.
AMI Little League season awards
The Anna Maria Island Little League held its season-ending awards ceremony on Monday, May 24, at the Center. Kyle Bellinger won the Joe Maggio MVP for his strong all-around play. He batted close to .400 while also serving as one of the primary pitchers for first-place Duncan Real Estate.
Duncan teammate Cory Wash won the Lou Fiorentino Award for leading the majors in batting with a robust .509 average, while WMFD's Wyatt Easterling captured the rookie of the year award.
Island Lumber's Cameron Ellsworth won the coveted Bill Ogden Sportsmanship award to culminate the awards ceremony.
Ultimate Frisbee is ongoing at the Center. If you're not familiar with the game, it's an exciting non-contact sport played by thousands of people around the world. It mixes the best features of sports such as soccer, basketball, football and netball into a simple-yet-exciting game.
The simplicity of the rules means it's easy and fun for newcomers to play. Pick-up games will be made with 5-7 players. Bring your friends and get ready to experience Ultimate Frisbee!
Cost is $5 per player per day. For more information, contact the Center at 778-1908.
Roller hockey starting at Center
Starting June 5, and continuing every Saturday until Oct. 30, the Center gym will be open for roller hockey. Cost per player will be $35 which includes 22 Saturdays.
Players are responsible for providing their own hockey sticks and protective equipment, which consists of a helmet, elbow and knee pads and wrist guards.
Drills will be taught before each game in three age divisions. Players ages 9-11 will have the gym from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., ages 12-13 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 13-16-year-olds will play 3-5 p.m.
For more information, call 778-1908.