The Enniskillen Express Bantam girls softball club has advanced to the Provincial Grand Championships in Kitchener to defend their championship and secure a second consecutive berth in the Eastern Canadian Softball Championships.
The Express won the gold medal at the Provincial Qualifying tournament this past weekend in Stratford going 4-1 in the tournament, beating London in the final.
Enniskillen started the tournament with a tough 4-3 win over Stratford. The Express were slow to start, and it was strong defence and solid pitching from Sam Cotton that kept them in the game. Jaedyn Chalmers drove in the tying run in the seventh inning, forcing the game into extra innings. Under international tiebreaker rules with a runner placed on second base, Julia Pearson stepped up with two out in the eighth inning to stroke a game winning walk-off double.
Enniskillen then beat Whitby in their next game by a score of 6-4. Lauren Fitzpatrick pitched seven strong innings for the win, while Jordyn Butler and Megan Dupuis made some sensational defensive plays in the field. Killian Irwin and Courtney McKellar led the offensive attack with two hits each, while Dupuis also batted strongly.
Enniskillen then beat London 10-3 to advance directly to the gold medal game. Sam Cotton pitched the win striking out eight. Kori Irwin led the offensive attack with four hits, Ally Cumming and Jordyn Butler had three hits apiece, while Julia Pearson and Hailey McLauchlin scored two runs each.
In the next game, Enniskillen again faced London. Unfortunately several defensive errors late in the game cost the Express, and they lost by a score of 7-6. McKellar and Cumming each had three hits in the loss.
Being a double-knockout tournament – and Enniskillen being undefeated up to that point – both teams had to immediately play a final game for the gold medal. It was a tight affair to start, but Enniskillen blew it open with a five-run sixth inning, and closed out a 10-5 win for the gold. Killian Irwin, Courtney McKellar, Riley Blancher, Ally Cumming starred at the plate, combining for 12 hits and eight runs, while Jaedyn Chalmers and Hailey McLauchlin made some outstanding plays on defence.