Back on top: Stratford Brakettes win third straight national championship
The Stratford Brakettes won the Women’s Major Softball National Championship for the third year in a row on Sunday.
Since the tournament began 12 years ago, the Brakettes have been crowned champions 10 times, but for many players this one carried extra weight.
“It finally made everything feel somewhat normal again,” tournament Most Outstanding Pitcher Ali DuBois said. “Even though things aren’t completely normal with the masks and the distancing, it was so great to get back out there. To have the season cut off like nothing, I was so fortunate to have this and it was more special because there are not a lot of teams even able to play. I loved every second we were out here.”
It has been a trying year for collegiate softball players who had their spring seasons taken from them and questioned whether they would be able to take the field at all this summer.
“This was really special,” tournament MVP Courtney Cashman said. “I was a senior so when I realized that I might not ever play again, the fact that we were able to play, I have never been so excited to play softball in my life. You enjoy the little things more when something like that happens to you.”
The Brakettes swept the tournament with a clinching 12-1 win over the CT Eliminators.
“I am always antsy,” Brakettes Manager John Stratton said. “I started my number three pitcher, she probably could have finished but I decided to put the other kid in anyway. I was happy. There are always nerves with me, you can always see the bad side with things happening when they are not supposed to, anything can happen. Our hitters proved they can hit the ball. They played well.”
Cashman (UMass-Lowell) was named the tournament MVP after going 8-for-11 with two home runs in bracket play.
“I am pretty humbled,” Cashman said. “I think it was a good tournament and I was just seeing the ball really well. I think the bench gave me a lot of energy and the people in the field motivated me so I think that is what made it happen.”
DuBois was given the Joan Joyce Most Outstanding Pitcher Award after starting two games and appearing in three without surrendering a run.
“It is an amazing honor, especially because Joan Joyce is a legend,” DuBois said. “She is somebody that I’ve always looked up to. Pitching with (Stratton) has been great, I always work with him and it has been a long process. My first year on the team I didn’t really play, I broke my back which was hard to come back from. Coming back and doing well is an awesome feeling.”
Kaycee Talcik started on Sunday and earned the win. She pitched three innings, surrendering one run on a solo shot to Dominique Highsmith before being relieved by DuBois. The duo allowed just two hits.
Leading 2-1 after three innings, the Brakettes broke out in the top of the fourth with an eight-run inning sparked by Briana Marcelino’s grand slam.
The Brakettes pushed two more runs across in the top of the fifth, pushing the lead to 12-1, which triggered the mercy rule yet again.
Boasting a 6-0 record in the tournament, the Brakettes outscored opponents 55-2.
Five Brakettes were named to the All-Tournament team as Becca Johnson, Katie Sciglimpaglia, and Sarah Lawton joined Cashman and DuBois.
Next season will mark the Brakettes 75th anniversary, as the team will head into 2021 looking for a fourth consecutive championship.