Mark Marini called it the “Curse of the Sixes.”
The coach of the Bishop Tonnos Titans was referring to factors involving the number six that might have led to the Bishop Ryan Celtics taking home the 2013 championship trophy of Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association girls’ slo-pitch.
First, the Titans went 6-0 during the regular-season schedule. And Tuesday (June 11), at Mohawk Sports Complex, they were vying for their sixth consecutive league title.
Add to that the fateful sixth-inning uprising by the Celtics. Bishop Ryan rallied to score five runs in that frame, en route to a 5-3 victory.
A running catch by BR outfielder Melanie Moser closed the door on Bishop Tonnos Titans. (Photo: Gerry Graham)
It was the first league crown for Bishop Ryan in slo-pitch since 2006.
Outfielder Melanie Moser recorded the final out when she made a running snag of a Haley Bowie line drive. That left Aspen Searle stranded as the on-deck batter. She’s the Bowling Green State University-bound Titan who drove in eight runs with four triples during Bishop Tonnos’s 13-2 mercy rule victory over Bishop Ryan to open the season.
“Going into the playoffs, you just hope that the first loss doesn’t come when it counts the most,” Marini said. “Today, that’s what happened.
“This was our seventh championship (appearance) in a row. We lost the first one to St. Mary back in 2007.”Tonnos jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead thanks to an RBI triple by Bowie and a run-scoring double by Rachel Aumais. After that, however, Bishop Ryan pitcher Erica Jones silenced the Tonnos bats. All she allowed was one run in the fifth, driven in by Searle’s bloop single to centre.
“Their pitcher had a fantastic game,” Marini said. “She had great backspin on the ball. But we made it easier on her. Because she was pitching so well, she got into our heads a bit. We didn’t perform as well as we could have.
“It was one bad inning … it happens, right?”
Jones also played a key role offensively. After her hard-hit ground single down the third-base line plated Katie Molner and Jen Kircos, Jones scored the final Celtics run of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Natasha Paseto.
The first two batters in the sixth — Maria de Wilde and Moser — crossed the plate with the opening pair of Bishop Ryan runs against lefthanded pitcher Laura Palamarchuk.
“Erica has come on strong,” said Bishop Ryan coach Terry de Wilde. “She started out rough this spring. Lately, she’s been on a roll. We don’t walk that many people. That makes it a lot easier to play defence.”
And solid defence is exactly what both teams displayed in the final.
Coach de Wilde said offensive momentum began to build for his team in the sixth. “We just started getting base hits,” he said. “The girls stopped swinging for the home runs. We started to run and put pressure on them, forcing them to make some throws and catches.”
Jones said the win was personally satisfying.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “I’ve been in high school for five years. I only came back to school this year to win this.”
Jones, who also plays house league and select fastball at Gage Park, said turning up the volume from the bench gave the Celtics a boost. “Our enthusiasm helped us win,” she said. “We’re really loud. That kind of throws the other team off a little and helps us.”
According to Jones, the one-sided loss to Tonnos in the first game provided extra incentive. “Coming into this game I was more confident because we lost to them last time. We knew we were the underdogs. It’s always better to be the underdog.”
The Bishop Ryan Celtics celebrate their 2013 HWCAA girls’ slo-pitch championship. (Photo: Gerry Graham)
For de Wilde, it’s his ninth year coaching. The first seven were spent at Cathedral.
“I just moved to BR last year,” he said. “I took over as head coach this year. I’ve never made it to the championship game before, so it’s been a while. To make it here, and at the same time win it, is pretty good.”
The Celtics coach says his squad is loaded with seniors. Eleven of 16 are graduating this year.
Other members of the Celtics are Heather MacLellan, Kaitlyn Ostrander, Jenna Noble, Emily Smith, Haley Butler, Mirana Tirabassi, Joely Fisher, Natalie Boccalon, Molly Masales and Jessica DeStefano.