The Warwick West Side 9/10-year-old all-star softball team had been challenged this summer, but had never been beaten until Saturday came around.
Now, for the first time, West Side will have to respond to some adversity if it wants a state championship.
Playing Cranston National Budlong in the finals on Saturday, West Side fell behind 4-0 after three innings due to a slew of errors, and never recovered. It lost 6-2 at Forbes Field in East Providence.
Because West Side was undefeated prior to the game and had come out of the winner’s bracket, it had to lose twice to CNB while CNB only had to be beaten once.
After West Side’s loss on Saturday though, there are no more stipulations – it’s just winner take all. The championship game was scheduled for Monday, with results unavailable at press time.
“You tip your cap to them,” West Side manager Carlos Rodas said. “There’s no question they’re a good team. We’ll see who’s the best team on Monday.”
The adversity for West Side is two-fold. First, it has to respond to the loss, something it never endured while sweeping the District 3 tournament and then winning its first two games at states.
The second issue is that the championship game would traditionally have been played on Sunday, but a scheduling conflict – coupled with rainouts of the first game with CNB on Thursday and Friday – pushed it to Monday. That extra day of rest, in accordance with the rules, allows CNB to use its No. 1 starting pitcher, Ava Brandow, again. She also pitched on Saturday.
Had the final game been played on Sunday, Brandow would have been prohibited from pitching because she pitched a complete game on Saturday.
From West Side’s perspective, it’s a slight disservice, as it was anticipating the final game being played Sunday, and aligned its pitching accordingly.
But it also didn’t do itself many favors in the field on Saturday.
“We left a lot of outs on the field,” Rodas said. “Really, what it came down to was unearned runs.”
West Side committed four errors in the second inning, leading to three unearned runs. Avery Izzi reached on an error to start the frame, and she scored on an infield single after advancing to third on an error. Two batters later, another error scored a run, and a third one came home on yet another error, this one with two outs.
“I think they were nervous, the first couple of innings you could see it,” Rodas said. “We had a couple plays at third where we usually get the out.”
West Side starter Kelsey Burr left after two innings, and Alyssa Richard came in, but CNB got to her for a run in the third on another error, and a run in the fourth on a bases loaded walk by Sophia Ferry.
West Side managed to scrape a run across in the home half of the third against Brandow, as Richard scored on an error on a ball hit by Dyonna Rodas, but it couldn’t close the gap any more.
It had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth and failed to score, then loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth and was only able to get one run across on an RBI groundout by Madi Damato.
“We hit a couple shots out there, they had perfect placement and we don’t get those runs,” Carlos Rodas said. “They get a couple little bloops and they get runs on them.”
CNB’s sixth run came on a bases loaded walk in the fifth by Sydney Casale off of West Side pitcher Emily Carter.
Now the final game decides who goes to the 9/10 Eastern Region Invitational to be held in Old Forge, Pa., from August 2-10.
“A championship game, what it comes down to, we talked to the girls about this the other day at practice,” Rodas said. “It’s going to come down to who makes the easy out and doesn’t let any of them slip by.”