The Great Alaska Bush Company, a team from Anchorage, defeated H&K Sheetmetal Fabricators Inc., also of Anchorage, by a score of 24-13 for the Alaska Softball Association State Women's Division D Tournament championship Sunday at the Kenai ballfields.
While championship baseball and fast-pitch softball usually awards the squads with the best pitching, championship slow-pitch softball is a hitter's game. And it was great hitting that propelled the Bush Company to a 5-0 record and the tournament title at the 11-team tourney.
The Bush Company is, like any other team, prone to hitting slumps. The team tied for fourth in the Anchorage city tournament when their bats deserted them. But, when the Bush Company has its bats rolling like it did Saturday and Sunday, it's hard for the opposition to keep up.
"When we're on, everybody's hitting well," said Bush Company manager Toni Hackney. "This weekend, everybody was hitting well."
Tournament Most Valuable Player Claire Torbensen led the hit parade for the Bush Company, posting a gaudy .913 batting average for the tournament.
Also on the all-tournament team for the Bush Company were Dana Kelly (.857), Sandi Lequire (.850) and Wandee Murray (.727).
Despite all the power in the lineup, the Bush Company's offense actually got off to a slow start in the championship game against Sheetmetal.
The Bush Company scored just one run in the top of the first before Sheetmetal got runs from its first six batters to the plate in the bottom of the first. In the top of the second, Bush Company again tallied just one run and Sheetmetal entered the third inning with a 6-2 lead.
After that, however, Bush Company's confidence and zest for the game took over.
"We've had some troubles off and on, but we walked into this tournament expecting to go all the way," Hackney said. "The women on our team can play and hit, and we don't have any individuals on the team anymore.
"We do it as a team."
Hackney also said the Bush Company is a fun-loving bunch, and said a concoction called Electric Jello helped spur the team's comeback in the late innings.
In the third inning, the Bush Company pushed across six runs and held Sheetmetal scoreless to take an 8-6 lead.
In the fourth inning, the first seven batters to come to the plate scored for the Bush Company as the team took a 15-6 lead.
The score was 19-12 heading into the seventh inning, and Sheetmetal manager Phill Adams thought his team had a chance for a comeback.
However, the Bush Company scored five runs in the first half of the seventh inning to put the game away.
"I thought a big point in the game was in the last inning," Adams said. "We were down by about five runs, which really isn't all that much in softball.
"But when they scored all those runs to start the inning, it took a lot out of us."
Hackney, who gave special thanks to Vicky Cox for sponsoring the team, said a state championship was a great note to end the year on. For many on the Bush Company, it was the first state championship. All the other players had not won state in a long time.
Adams also is happy with how far his team has come this season. The squad won just one game in the first half of the season, but came back to play for the state championship.
Angel Price won the Gold Glove award at the tournament for Sheetmetal. Price also hit .760 for the tournament. Other all-tournament players for Sheetmetal are Tiffany Chavers, Tracie Ashman and Jaeger Vega.
Other all-tournament players are Diane Hall, Joann Frohling and Tahirah Klein of third-place Dompiers Extreme Carpet from the Matanuska-Susitna valleys; and Jeannie Owen, Shannon Kramer and Lisa Wilson of fourth-place Al's Alaskan Inn from Anchorage.
There were two area teams in the tournament. North Peninsula Recreation went 0-2, while Arby's of Kenai went 1-2.
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