Penguins to take flight
Thursday, 8th December, 2011
By John Casey
A photographic memory could prove the difference for Penguins as they look to break their BH Softball Association premiership drought this season.
Penguins have recruited talented pitcher Carlie Walker thanks to the eagle-eye of their short-stop Jasmine Mitchell, who recognised the “tall blonde” when their paths crossed at Centro Westside Plaza earlier this year.
“I remembered playing against Carlie at a Combined High Schools carnival in Newcastle when Barrier (BH) played North Coast and immediately asked her to join us,” Jasmine explained.
“Carlie is a very talented player and I thought she could really improve our team with her fast, accurate pitching.”
Jasmine’s prediction was certainly accurate in round six when Carlie struck out an impressive seven Tigers batters - although it wasn’t enough to secure victory - with Tigers prevailing in a thrilling 6-5 showdown at Jubilee Oval.
“I’ve been happy with my form so far this season, but for me it is all about team success, so to lose such a close game was a little disappointing,” 19-year-old Carlie said.
“But overall we have made a positive start to the season and I am really enjoying my new team-mates and the BH competition.”
The Tigers-Penguins clash was one of the best matches played this season and provided the closest finish so far.
Both teams had chances to win the match, which started with the defences on top with Alison Couch (Tigers) and Meagan Casserly (Penguins) producing two great catches.
Meagan also produced the goods in offence, notching a three-run homer with what appeared to be an easy flick of the bat.
In contrast, reigning premiers Tigers were having trouble handling the pitching from Carlie Walker and had to rely on good fielding to keep Penguins’ lead manageable.
Ann Garrick produced a great double-play while Leonie Wilson and Julie Sandy were also influential for Tigers.
Eventually Tigers found their form in the batting box with last week’s home run hero Belinda Siebert showing her versatility with a delicate bunt to load the bases.
Michele Gray then advanced two of the runners to get Tigers on the board.
Heading into the last innings scores were tied at 4-4 and Kelsey Dennis loomed as the match winner for Penguins when she smashed a three-base hit and then scrambled home on a Tigers error on the next play.
But needing a victory to smooth what has been an up-and-down start to their title defence, Tigers used all their experience to draw two walks and a couple of base hits to draw level.
The pressure eventually told on Penguins with an over throw to third base producing an error that allowed Leonie Wilson to scramble home for the winning run.
Boosted by the narrow win, Tigers will now go into tomorrow night’s round seven clash against Albemarle All-Stars with genuine momentum.
The Menindee-based All-Stars are at the other end of the scale, having been unable to field a team for the past two weeks, but have assured organisers they will be ready to play tomorrow night.
Penguins will need to rebound quickly from the deflating defeat as they face top-of-the-table Excelsior, who are unbeaten in four games.
When they last met in round two, Excelsior scored a dominant 10-0 victory, so pressure will be on new pitching recruit Carlie Walker to silence the powerful Excelsior line-up.
“There’s always pressure involved when you are pitching, but I enjoy being constantly in the game and I am looking forward to the challenge,” Lismore-born Carlie said.
And the good news for Penguins is that Carlie intends to be in BH for at least three years, having moved to BH with her boyfriend Brendan Shailes who is a first-year policeman.
Now all Carlie needs is a change in luck with her sporting endeavours. She joined West and made the soccer Grand Final only to lose to St Josephs, and last night her team had to forfeit the C Grade netball Grand Final after some of her team-mates were injured in the recent female football match.
“I was the only one in my team who wasn’t hurt,” Carlie laughed.
Maybe Penguins will break their premiership drought and provide Carlie with her first BH success in the new year.