2016 Youth League Baseball And Softball Season (3)
Winson Thai

 

In the offseason, veteran closer Fabian Vizcaino for the Minneapolis Wizards announces that after 17 years, the current season will be his last with the league. The team’s last home series is three versus the Subways. They take the first two games, the second of which eliminates the Wizards from the playoffs. In the last, Jim Hardy throws seven shutout innings for New York, allowing three hits and two walks. Dorian Santos and Casey Barnes throw perfect eighth and ninth respectively. James Cooper singles to lead off the top of the fourth off of Kyle Stevens, moves to second via a walk, and scores on Samuel Ramirez’s single. Dick Weaver’s leadoff shot in the seventh off of Stevens makes it 2-0 Subways. They next inning get men on second and third via two hits with an out off of Derrick Ellison and Ramirez’s single makes it 4-0 New York. Wizards’ manager Rudy Abbott brings in Vizcaino for the very last time after Jacky Martinez walks. A prerecorded announcement by the late Bob Sheppard followed by Vizcaino’s favorite song plays and he enters the field. Everyone, including the Subways cheers and applause. He retires Weaver and Rick Hague to end the eighth and gets the first two outs in the ninth. 13 pitches later, his baseball career officially ends and the crowd erupts as Abbott and fellow Wizards Leonard Putin and Shelby Myers go to the mound and tearfully hug him. He then leaves the field in tears, blowing kisses and waving at the cheering crowd. Seth Rosin replaces him and strikes out Hank Rutenberg to end the inning. The Subways sweep the Wizards on the road for the first time in history. Two of the Wizards’ hits came leading off the eighth off of Hardy, but with men on first (second after a stolen base) and third, Santos retires the next three men to end the threat.

The Princesses play a four-game set against the Marines in Seattle, taking the first game 10-5, but are outhit 10-8. They win the next game 10-9 despite being outhit, 10-8, but strand 11 girls as the Marines strands 8 due to Seattle committing two errors and walking 12 runners. They take the third match 7-2, but only outhit Seattle 5-3, stranding nine runners due to Seattle walking 10 girls and committing an error. In the finale, New York builds at 12-0 lead after six innings, hitting three three-run homers. They score a run in the second, three in the third, five in the fifth, and three in the sixth. Carol DeVito pitches 5 2/3 shutout innings and then she and two relievers permit four two-out runs in the sixth with Stevie Ross homering to start the scoring. Seattle scores another run next inning on Mandy Phillips’s blast off of Sandy Boon, who allows a single and walk as New York wins 12-5 to sweep the series. The Princesses play a three-game set versus the Eureka Eagles, taking the first one 8-6 with Jen Sang hitting a grand slam in a five-run first and Kara Rau hitting a three-run blast in the seventh, and finale 14-9 with a five-run sixth breaking an 8-8 tie.

Tragedy hits Youth League in the final week of the year when three softball recruits for the Tampa Whales die after their bus collides with a tractor trailer on a highway heading home from a training camp. As a result a game, the last of three versus the Marines men’s team in Seattle for the next day is cancelled. Since Tampa was already eliminated from the playoff race and Seattle had won the Western Division, it is not rescheduled. Tampa finishes third in the East at 73-76 and Seattle finishes with an 81-68 record, worst of all division champions after losing 15 or their last 18 games (including 7 straight to end the year) while their division lead shrunk from 10 games to 2 ½, narrowly escaping one of the worst late-season collapses for league history. The Chicago Storms men’s team wins the Central Division at 91-59, the second highest record in the league despite losing their last four games including being swept by the Dolphins at Stanton, letting them clinch the Wild Card. The Subways close 2016 with the league’s best record at 97-53 and win home field edge in all three rounds of postseason. On the softball side, the Vermont Rip Tide take the East at 90-60. The Hawks and Princesses miss the playoffs together for the first time in 21 years, finishing fifth and second respectively. The latter team ended with a better record than Western Champs Seattle at 84-66.

The Princesses win seven straight to begin September, their longest winning streak of 2016 taking the last of three from the Witches in Salem after losing the first two, sweeping three from the Vermont Rip Tide at home and taking the first three of four from the Philadelphia Hawks as their gap for the Wild Card closes to three games, but then lose two of three interleague games to the Auburn Warriors at home losing the last 2-0, with both runs scored in the seventh aided by errors from Second Baseman Christina Bay and Pitcher Carol DeVito. They go 3-8 on an 11-game road trip, dropping four to the Tampa Whales, first time they got swept in a four-game set by them since 1990, and three of four to Vermont to fall as much as 12.5 games back. They end 2016 with six at home against the Whales and Witches and sweep the former team. In the second game, they trail 3-0 in the seventh, but load the bases off of Inci Ark on a hit and two walks. Jessica Moore walks to force in a run, then Hollie Jones relieves Ark, getting two outs, but Crystal Lewis, who in early August announced she would retire at the end of 2016 to start a family with her new husband hits the 0-1 pitch into center for a walk-off grand slam. This would be the last home run of her career. Her team is eliminated from the playoffs after the next game and drops two of three to Salem to close the year.

The Rip Tide end the season 14-5 versus the Hawks, losing just one game of three in Philadelphia in April and one of three at Vermont in mid-August before being swept in a three-game set at Philadelphia in their next-to-last series for 2016. They go 9-9 against the Whales losing two of three in each of the first four series before sweeping a three-game set in Tampa in August, then winning two of three in Vermont in September. The Subways go 13-6 versus the Rip Tide, winning two of three in four sets, sweeping another three-game set in Vermont, winning three of four for another series there, and losing two of three at home. They go 10-9 versus the Tampa Whales after sweeping the last three-game series from them in New York. The Subways go 2-4 versus the Colorado Racers female team losing the first two of three in Colorado and New York before taking the finale. They were 13-2 versus Colorado since interleague play began in 1997.

The defending champs Canton Dragons male team becomes the league’s first to finish fifth in one season, win the championship the next and close last in their conference again the following season. They close 2016 at 65-85, just two games better than their disastrous 2014 season after finishing 2015 at 91-59.

The St. George Angels and Springfield Isotopes finish 2016 at 89-61, best record for the women’s western conference when the Isotopes beat the Angels in the season’s last game, but since the Angels won the regular season series versus the Isotopes 10-9, they are given the division crown and Springfield earns the Wild Card. The loss, though costs the Angels the home field edge in postseason’s quarterfinals against the Central Champions Canton Dragons, who finish 2016 too at 89-61 (going 14-2 in their last 16 games), but went 6-4 versus the Angels in the regular season. The Rip Tide go 0-7 and 0-6 versus the Dragons and Isotopes, respectively, but 7-0 against the Eureka Eagles and Stanton Dolphins, who end 2016 last in their divisions with respective ranks of 62-88 and 58-92. This record versus Canton has no impact for Vermont.

The Dragons defeat the Angels in five games in Round One, outscoring them 22-18 despite being outhit 40-33. This is due to Canton outhitting St. George in just the decisive Game 5, 7-6, which they won 3-2. Both teams had 13 hits in Game 1, which Canton won 13-7, while St. George outhit them 7-3 in a 3-1 Game 4 win, 7-5 in a 5-2 Game 2 win and 7-5 in a 3-1 Game 3 loss. Canton swept St. George 3-0 in 2006.

The Rip Tide fight the Isotopes in the quarterfinals. In Game 1, Jamie Hinshaw’s blast off of Lynn Xu puts Springfield up, 2-0 in the third. They make it 3-0 next inning via Liz Choi’s blast off of Xu. In the sixth Chris Richardson’s homer off of starter Kristen Wood makes it 3-1 Isotopes. In the ninth Springfield gets girls on first and third with two outs off of Amanda Scarborough, then Hinshaw’s single scores a run, then two wild pitches score one more. In the lower half, Vermont loads the bases off of Fabien Baker with two outs, but score only once on a wild pitch with Richardson striking out to end the 5-2 game. In Game 2 Lisa Norris hits Janine Tanner with a pitch to lead off the first. She goes to second on a walk, then to third on a sacrifice bunt and scores on Savannah Brooks’s sacrifice fly, but the Isotopes tie the game in the third on Liz Choi’s single with girls on first and second off of Alina Maroz. In the bottom of the tenth with girls on second and third and two outs off of Carmen Diego Natalie Wilson grounds to third, but baseman Leah English bobbles the ball, letting the winning run score as Vermont got two leadoff singles that inning after getting just one hit through nine. Their 2-1 win ties the set going to Springfield. In Game 3, three Isotopes pitchers shut out the Rip Tide, who get just two hits and three walks and go 5 for 11 with ladies in scoring position. Amanda Scarborough allows a leadoff shot to Britney Baines in the second and four consecutive one-out singles in the fourth, the third scoring a run and fourth scoring two more, then the Isotopes put the game out of reach in the eighth with five runs off of three relievers. Their 9-0 win puts them one win from the semifinals. Lois Glasco homers on Trish Parks’s second pitch of Game 4. In the bottom half Kimberly Holt allows a two-out single followed by three walks to tie the score loading the bases for Springfield, but escapes the inning without further damage. In the second Janine Tanner’s homer after a leadoff single puts Vermont up 3-1. In the third, Britney Baines’s homer cuts it to 3-2 and Holt departs with two outs and one on. Parks allows back-to-back leadoff doubles in the top of the fifth and leaves with one out and Glasco at third. She scores on Meryl Jefferson’s sacrifice fly off of Rachel Fox. Liz Choi doubles opening the lower half of the sixth off of Ricki Milano, moves to third on a groundout, and scores on a sacrifice fly by Jamie Hinshaw, but Madison Flannigan permits back-to-back one-out doubles, then Bonnie Kozminski’s blast in the seventh makes it 8-3 Rip Tide, the final forcing a Game 5 at Vermont. It is scoreless until the fourth as Natalie Wilson hits a leadoff single and scores on Chris Richardson’s triple. Richardson, after a groundout scores on an error that puts Janine Tanner at first. A single and walk load the bases, as Lois Glasco’s grand slam puts Vermont up 6-0 knocking starter Kristen Wood out of the game. Four relievers shut them out for the rest of the game as their team tries to claw its way back. In the fifth, Jamie Hinshaw’s double with two on off of Lynn Xu scores both. In the sixth Britney Baines’s leadoff blast off of her makes it 6-3 Rip Tide. In the ninth Alina Maroz allows a one-out walk and subsequent single, then Baines’s RBI singles makes it 6-4 Vermont, but retires the next two girls, striking out Leah English to end a game and series. Springfield outhit Vermont 12-9, left 11 girls on, and was 2 for 13 with them in scoring position as Vermont advances.

They face Canton in the semi-finals. In Game 1 in Vermont Lois Glasco’s home run in the first off of Gina Twain puts Vermont up, 1-0. Meghan King, after four perfect innings, hits Lesley Fernando with a pitch leading off the fifth as Kelsey Stewart’s double ties the game. After a groundout, she is thrown out at home trying to score on Monica Bennett’s single as Twain strikes out to end the inning. In the bottom half Twain allows back-to-back one-out singles and one out later, Natalie Wilson’s single puts Vermont up 2-1. Janine Tanner’s homer in the sixth makes it 3-1 Vermont. Savannah Brooks singles to lead off the seventh, moves to second on a sacrifice bunt, steals third, and scores on Wilson’s sacrifice fly to end Twain’s night. Erin Evans’s homer in the eighth after a walk makes it 4-3 Vermont and knock King out of the game, then Amanda Scarborough comes in for a four-out save. In Game 2, Natalie Wilson singles leading off the first off of Deana Benner, scoring on Sammie Nate’s double. Lois Glasco then homers to make it 3-0 Vermont. Wilson walks leading off the third, steals second and third, and scores on Shelby Catalina’s single. Benner and three relievers shut them out for the rest of the game, but Canton scores just once after Ashley Carson singles with one out in the 6th, steals second, and scores on Tracy Lai’s two-out double off of Alina Maroz as four relievers toss 3 1/3 shutout innings. Vermont goes up 2-0 in the series heading to Canton. In Game 3, Sammie Nate hits a one-out single in the first off of Ali Willis, scoring on Shelby Catalina’s double one out later, but Canton ties it in the bottom half on Erin Evans’s blast off of Kimberly Holt. In the third Lois Glasco’s blast puts Vermont up 2-1, but Canton ties it in the fourth via Lara Basin’s blast. Catalina singles leading off the sixth off of Taryne Mowatt, goes to second on a sacrifice bunt, steals third, and scores on a strike-three wild pitch to Meryl Jefferson. Her team scores two runs in the seventh off of Farrah Shaw and Holt and two relievers shut out Canton. Their 5-2 win puts them only a win from the finals. Just one team, the 2005 Salem Warlocks, managed by current Canton manager Jay Lyndsey, rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series. In Game 4 Vermont gets two on in the first with two outs off of Kasey Southern, then back-to-back homers from Chris Richardson and Janine Tanner put them up 4-0. Next inning, with two on and two outs Richardson doubles off of Farrah Shaw to put them up 6-0. Canton loads the bases with zero outs off of Lindsey Dean in the fourth, but scores just once on a groundout. Aubrey Bianco walks Sammie Nate with two outs in the eighth as Lois Glasco homers to put Vermont up 8-1. In the bottom half, Canton gets those runs back, as Lara Basin hits a leadoff double, then Tracy Lai homers off of Shelly Hoerner, but no more as Vermont wins 8-3 to finish the sweep in a series where they never trailed. Only one of 7 teams that swept the semifinals since it was expanded to a best-of-seven series, the 1995 Tampa Whales won the finals. Glasco is the MVP with a .53 batting average and home runs in a record six straight playoff games.

On the baseball side, the Subways defeat the Stanton Dolphins in the quarter-finals three games to one despite being 1-8 versus them in the regular season for 11 straight postseason game wins versus them, including quarter-final sweeps in 2010 and 2011 while the Seattle Marines beat the Chicago Storms, three games to one too, despite going 0-6 against them in the regular season. In the semi-finals, Seattle wins the first game in New York, but the Subways tie the set in Game 2 before it shifts to Seattle. The Marines take the next two games, but New York wins the next three outscoring Seattle 32-1 (45-20 for the entire series) to be the men’s champions. They are the 11th team to take a playoff series after trailing three games to one and for the fourth time, the finals will feature a team that swept their semifinal set face one that won theirs in seven games. The 7-game winner won for all prior cases showing long layoffs can affect performances.

In Game 4 of the Subways-Dolphins series in Stanton, New York goes up 1-0 in the first, as Jacky Martinez hits a leadoff single off of Jason Lieu, scoring on Kendrix Miller’s double an out later, but in the bottom of the inning, Stanton goes up 2-1 on four straight one-out singles off of Zane Serena. They do not score for the rest of the game, though, despite having runners in scoring position and less than two outs in each of the next five innings going 2 for 13 in those cases. Miller singles to lead off the fourth, goes to 2nd on a walk, steals third, and scores on Hank Rutenberg’s sacrifice fly. In the sixth Miller’s homer puts New York up 3-2 off of Lieu, which is the game and series winner. Stanton had won Game 3 to force the game.

The Subways face the Rip Tide in the final round. In Game 1 in New York, three pitchers shut out Vermont as Alina Maroz pitches a complete game, but takes the loss when Mario Ruiz hits a two-run blast in the sixth. In Game 2, Damien Khaliq hits a leadoff shot off of Meghan King in the second and Vermont ties it in the third as Janine Tanner singles with one out, goes to second on a groundout and scores on Lois Glasco’s double off of Bernie Hales. In the inning’s bottom half, Loren Pierre reaches first on a force-out, steals second, goes to third on a wild pitch, and scores on Jacky Martinez’s single. Neither team scores for the rest of the game as the Subways take a 2-0 lead going to Vermont. In Game 3, Damien Khaliq draws a leadoff walk in the first, scoring via Hank Rutenberg’s two-out double off of Kimberly Holt, but Subways starter Zane Serena must leave in the bottom half after a bloody finger. Savannah Brooks ties the game on a homer off of Miller Diaz in the second. Rutenberg’s homer in the fourth puts New York atop 2-1, but the Rip Tide tie it in the fifth again off of Holly Evelyn as Shelby Catalina hits a leadoff triple, then scores on Sammie Nate’s groundout. Kendrix Miller’s leadoff homer in the sixth puts New York up 3-2, then Holt is taken out with an out after walking Rutenberg, who goes to second on a wild pitch by Ricki Milano and scores on Julio Rios’s single to make it 4-2 Subways, the final. In Game 4, Lois Glasco’s blast in the third off of Shane Madison puts the Rip Tide up 1-0. They make it 2-0 in the fourth as Madison walks two, then allows an RBI single to Shelby Catalina. New York cuts it to 2-1 in the fifth as James Cooper walks, goes to second on a wild pitch and scores on Tony Kennedy’s double off of Shelly Hoerner. New York gets just one more hit in the game. Vermont loads the bases with no outs in the seventh off of Jim Hardy. Bobbi Ian Williams’s single scores two. Catalina triples in the next inning off of Hugh Anderson and scores on Chris Richardson’s ground out to make it 5-1 Rip Tide, the final, forcing a Game 5, where Mario Ruiz singles in the first off of Alina Maroz and scores on Hank Rutenberg’s double. New York adds to its lead on homers by Damien Khaliq and James Cooper in the third and fourth, respectively. Four pitchers shut-out Vermont. New York wins its first title since 2010 despite hitting .168, the lowest batting average for a winning team and being outhit, 31-25 from being outhit, 7-6 in Game 1, only outhitting Vermont by one in Games 2 and 5, and both teams getting seven hits in Game 3, and a ticker tape parade is thrown in celebration along the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan with players, coaches, and elected politicians riding aboard floats.

In 2019, the Princesses end the year at 80-70, going 47-28 in the second half, sweeping the Tampa Whales, who they go 7-11 against, to end the season after closing the previous two years below .500. The Salem Witches become only the second team to sweep a semi-finals series since it got expanded to a best-of-seven series, then win the finals, which the road team wins all seven matches for the first time in Youth League history. The next year is shortened to 50 games due to the Covid19 pandemic. Each team plays 10 games versus other teams in their division and 2 versus each team in the same division at the other league.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007 Winson Thai
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