Sensational Magpies

Published Mon 28 Mar 2022

By Robert Laidlaw

THE FAIRY TALE HAS come true, Port Adelaide is the 2021-22 Premier League Softball winners!

With a young squad the Magpies looked a real threat to play off in their first grand final this season, but to go all the way and beat the strong West Torrens team 2-1 in extra innings at West Beach Parks – in a real-life fairy-tale ending – just sensational!

An expected, a tough pitching battle between the Eagles’ Steph Trzcinski and Port’s Johanna Grauer was realised, as neither side could find any ascendency with the bat through the regulation seven innings.

The biggest scoring threat came at the top of the second frame, when the Magpies had two runners aboard with one out, but failed to capitalise.

And in the seventh dig, Charlise Callaghan hit a big one-out double for Port, but was left stranded.

Then in the bottom of the seventh inning, West Torrens looked like pinching the grand final, when Sophie Hoye hit a one-out double for the Eagles’ first hit of the ball-game. But it came to nothing.

With a runner on third base at the top of the eighth, and two out, the Magpies’ Taylor Chillingworth hit a hot drive, but Torrens’ shortstop Lana Kaesler made a low-to-the-ground ‘special’ catch to defuse the situation.

In the bottom of the eighth frame the Eagles threatened, with loaded bases and just one out. But a force-out at home and a nice play by infielder Jess Neves saw another extra inning required.

Chillingworth started the top of the ninth dig placed at second base. Grauer laid down a bunt, which, although thrown to third, saw everyone safe – in arguable the closest play of the night to that point.

Jess Maslin was out on a grounder, which saw Grauer advance to second base. Then Callaghan hit her second big double of the game, to see Chillingworth and Grauer excitedly cross home plate – Port 2-0.

But the Eagles still had one more chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth dig.

Kaesler started at second base. Sophie Hoyle’s groundout put Kaesler at third, and then Trzcinski belted an emotional-evoking triple to rightfield, which scored Torrens’ first run of the game, and put the tying run on third base!

It looked like the game was going to be knotted at 2-2 when Kelsey Knuckey blooped a hit into leftfield, which forced Trzcinski to delay her run home. But quick-thinking Port leftfielder Maslin threw strongly and accurately to catcher Kara Tilton.

There was some confusion as Trzcinski scrambled for the plate and Tilton desperately tried to control the ball, as a 50-50 decision went the way of the Magpies, with Trzcinski sensationally called out – a brave call by the umpire. The call was close, no doubt, but fair under the circumstances.

Grauer rose to the occasion to strike the final batter out, and Port Adelaide was crowned premiers for the first time in club history.

From the circle Grauer went the distance, surrendering three hits for 13 strikeouts. For her part, Trzcinski also pitched brilliantly, giving up three hits for eight K2s.

Congratulations to Magpies coach Ben Lucas, and commiserations to West Torrens leader Andrew Scott.

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Premier League softball results: grand final – Port Adelaide d West Torrens 2-1 (hits: Port – Callaghan 2, Burr; WT – Fuss, Trzcinski, Knuckey. WP: J. Grauer; LP: S. Trzcinski).