Qld Flames scorch competition at U15 Girls championships
SOFTBALL: It was a red-hot week-long effort by the Queensland Flames that secured them a well-deserved spot in Friday's Under-15 Girls Regional Softball Championships' grand final.
Scorching a trail to the end of the carnival, the team, led by Frenchville coach Matthew Harrison and featuring Rockhampton's utility Leah Bertram, fell just short of the final win against New South Wales Green.
The game went into overtime, with the NSW squad winning 5-4 in overtime.
"It was a stellar effort.
"That game could have gone either way,” Harrison said.
"They were playing a very high standard to finish off the carnival and it was good to be peaking at the right time.”
After an exhausting week, the team's starting pitcher was injured after the semi-final, and made it through only a couple of innings in the final.
"We had a couple of runs scored off her which kept NSW in the game,” Harrison said.
"Our relief pitcher came in and shot them out for the remainder.
"In the fourth inning, NSW had already scored their innings and it heightened up then.
"Without those runs being scored, we would've maintained the advantage but in the middle game, with our pitcher went off injured, it let them back in and at the end it was anybody's game.”
Bertram "stood up” in the grand final, earning her spot with the second best batting average in the team.
After her national debut at the primaries last year, Bertram is still "relatively new” to the sport, however she has a "natural ability and a good instinct” for the game.
"She was really good in that utility role.
"I could stick her anywhere on the field and she would plug that hole,” Harrison said.
"We were loaded bases at the bottom of the seventh and with scores tied we could've lost it.
"She caught the ball behind her in the end and finished the inning and kept us in the game.”
After winning the semi-final against NSW Orange 5-2, the Flames gained the confidence that would get them through to the final.
"We played a really tight final series and stayed focused,” Harrison said.
"It was very close and the girls were very happy with their improvement from last year.
"It was disappointing not to win but they gave everything they had and were really running on empty in that last game.
"In the semi, it was 0-0 until time was called and we went into extra innings where we scored the five runs in the top of the sixth inning.”
Despite the two Queensland teams, Flames and Fire, being made of 28 players from across the state, each team strove to work with the training program with regional coaches and get together to build "team culture” before the championship.
"We saw that this year,” Harrison said.
"They came together strong and it's looking positive for Queensland in the future,” he said.