Islanders reach senior softball final in first season
Second place isn’t a bad consolation prize. Especially if it’s your first season.
So as the Richmond Islanders 92-93 posed with their silver medals Sunday at London Fields, they couldn’t stop smiling—even after an exhaustive stretch of games that concluded with a 7-3 loss to the North Delta Lightning in the final of Softball BC’s senior B women’s championship.
It was a long path to the title game, seven games in all. But the Islanders proved up for the challenge.
“We can’t complain,” said Al Groff, co-coach of the Richmond team with John Badock. “To come second out of 21 teams is a pretty good result.”
One of the stars in the Islanders’ surprising ascent to the final (in which they won five of seven games) was Sam Badock, the 19-year-old sister of starting pitcher and right fielder Julia Badock. Sam’s strong pitching, described by Groff as “slow and low” threw many of the opposition batters off—even the Lightning. Richmond jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the game with Sam throwing the first five and a third innings before a bases-loaded single to the fence gave the Lighting a lead they’d eventually build on. Offensive highlights for the Islanders included two bunts by left fielder Sydney Jeffers, two singles by first base Janessa Murao, doubles by Katie Sherlock and Julia Badock and a single by Emily Merlo. Shortstop Cherise Chang made a double play in the fourth inning by blocking a hard hit ball and stepping on second base before firing the ball to first base.
The Islanders began round-robin play with an 8-0 win over New Westminster Riot with a double and three-run RBI engineered by Sherlock and a two-run shot by Julia Badock who was pitching to catcher Kelsey Lawrence, filing in for regular Kaeli Alexander away on school commitments.
After a 5-1 loss to North Shore Reign (Sherlock’s over-the-fence homer accounted for Richmond’s lone run), the Islanders got back on the winning track with a 9-3 win over the Redbacks followed by a 3-1 win over the Reign (starting pitcher Emily Agawa gave up just one run in the seventh inning) and a 5-4 win over Ridge Meadows Pride. Tied in the bottom of the seventh inning with two out, Islander Victoria Groff reached first base on a walk and scored the winning run on a double by Merlo. Pickup Deanna Mohr was also instrumental in the victory, providing stellar defensive play in right field. Richmond then edged North Delta 5-3 setting the stage for a second consecutive game between the teams for the provincial championship.
•Richmond Islanders Senior B, coached by Larry Strohan, tied for seventh place.
Strohan said the team looked nervous in making several errors in a 10-1 opening-game loss to the Reign, but was able to quickly refocus to down the Redbacks 8-1 for the first win in which Jodi Westerhof pitched all seven innings. Caitlyn Lee led off a five-run fourth inning with a double for the Islanders.
Richmond wasted no time setting the tone for its second win, as Kyla McWlliam hit a homer over the right field fence to score two runs in the top of the first inning in a 12-9 victory over the Oakeys. Kianna Trewin also had a two-run shot in the top of the fifth.
Richmond extended its winning string to three games as Marina Russell and Danielle Strohan both contributed runs in a 12-4 win over the Force, but came up empty in a 10-0 loss to the Pride before bouncing back with an 8-6 win over the Valley Cats in an elimination game. They closed out the tournament with a 7-1 loss to the Extreme with the pitcher-catcher combination of Karen Wright and Marina Russell allowing only eight hits in five innings.
“Our team goal for provincials was to get to the semifinal Sunday morning, and facing a very tough opponent the girls battled hard and kept it close,” said coach Strohan.