St. Charles ends Force's championship hopes
PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire Force's goal this weekend was simple. The Force wanted to be the third consecutive host team to win a Babe Ruth 16-Under World Series championship.
Unfortunately for the Force, Southwest Regional champion St. Charles Parish (La.) had other ideas as Mia Casanova tossed a six-hitter and Katie Brady hit a three-run home run in the third inning as St. Charles knocked the Force into the Commissioner's Cup bracket with a 7-2 win Sunday morning at the Doyle Complex.
The team from Louisiana, 8-1 losers to the Force in pool play, took the lead in the first inning and never surrendered it. Casanova, who gave up unearned runs in the second and third innings, retired 11 of the final 13 hitters she faced.
"They outplayed us today," Force manager Jim Clary said. "Our bats didn't get the key hits. We didn't get the girls on base that we wanted to get."
The Commissioner's Cup is for teams that are eliminated from the double-elimination road to the World Series title.
The Force had gone through pool play with a 3-1 record, fell into the elimination bracket on Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Lodi, Calif. The Force survived in the bracket in a mercy-rule win over Plymouth, which set the stage for the lid lifter on Sunday.
St. Charles was the road team for the morning game, and got an early break that put them on top for keeps.
After Force starter Emily Koldys retired the first two hitters on five pitches, Taylor Lucich reached when third baseman Kayla Kowalczyk short-hopped a throw for an error. After Morgan Foret reached on an infield single, Casanova helped her cause with a two-run double to left.
The Force got a run back in the home third when Kowalczyk walked, took second on a sacrifice and later scored when Brady misplayed a ball hit by Kailey Bell for an error.
The team from Louisiana took the air out of the game in the top of the third.
Foret singled to left with two outs and Koldys hit Casanova with a pitch. Brady then hit a 1-1 pitch to right, and she scampered around the bases for a three-run, inside-the-park home run. The St. Charles hitters left little to chance. They swung early and often. The aggression was part of their game plan.
"This is the ball that we generally play," St. Charles manager Neil Legendre said. "We have not come out and had a really productive week, or play like we normally play. My team showed up today."
And they showed up with an early wake-up call. Brady, who hit a pitch down the middle for her homer, admitted that she and her teammates don't like to play this early.
"We're a night team. We're not a morning team at all," she said. "Me and my friends, we usually pick each other up because I know in the morning, it's really hard for us to get up."
Julia Murphy made it 5-2 in the home third inning when she singled, stole second, went to third on an overthrow by catcher Foret and scored on a wild pitch. But that was as close as the Force got.
The Force put only one more runner in scoring position. That was Allie Hunt, who singled to lead off the sixth, stole second and went to third on a fly out. But she was stranded at third.
"We were prepared" for St. Charles' aggressive play, Force reliever Julia Murphy said. "We didn't execute like I know we could have. At the end of the day, we did play hard."
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