FASTPITCH SOFTBALL: Final 4 teams to battle for league titles
No. 1 Walker’s Office Supply vs. No. 3 A-Z Supply, 7 p.m., Wednesday
No. 1 Bulldogs vs. No. 2 All Star Automotive, 7 p.m., Thursday
Both games played at Led Eva Field at Memorial Park, Grass Valley
The Nevada County Fastpitch Softball playoffs reach their pinnacle this week as the final four teams battle for the league’s two championships.
The National League title is up for grabs first as No. 3 seed A-Z Supply will face off against No. 1 seed and defending National League champs Walker’s Office Supply at 7 p.m. today at Les Eva Field in Grass Valley’s Memorial Park.
The American League, considered the more competitive league, will decide their champion at 7 p.m. Thursday when the No. 1 seed Bulldogs take on the No. 2 seed and defending American League champions All Star Automotive.
“We’ve played these guys in a championship before and it’s going to be a barn burner,” said All Star Auto’s Justin Nicholson.
The Bulldogs, who beat All-Star Auto for the league title in 2015, went 11-2 in the regular season and come into the championship game riding a 12-game win streak. They boast a powerful lineup which includes league batting champ Justin Deme (.636 batting average, 10 homeruns, 28 RBIs) as well as talented hitters Kody Kencke (.593), Chris Friedman (.536), Jeff Nye (.485), Jarett Roenicke (.472). As a team, the Bulldogs have a .460 batting average and 21 home runs this season.
The Bulldogs also have a skilled hurler in Bobby Alvara, who notched 16 strikeouts in his teams semifinal win over Gold Country Automotive.
For All Star Auto, which is in its third straight title game, they also have a potent lineup. Leading All Star Auto at the plate are Daryl Allen (.560, three homeruns), Nicholson (.528, six homeruns, 20 RBIs), Jeremy Boyes (.516, seven homeruns, 17 RBIs), Nick Ullom (.444), Wes Cross (.421), Ryan Carlson (.409) and Nick Costa (.400). As a team, All Star Auto has a .423 batting average and 20 homeruns.
They, too, have a top tier pitcher in Mike Milligan, who threw a two-hit, 13-strikeout shutout to help All Star Auto top the Oroville Dirtbags in the semifinals.
“Milligan is a horse, but those guys got sticks, so we will need our sticks,” said Nicholson. “We need to come out a little more aggressive. Bobby (Alvara) is a great pitcher, and if he gets confidence he’s really hard to hit. We got to get to him early.”
Today’s National League Championship is a rematch of last year’s, where Walker’s topped A-Z, 10-5.
Walker’s showed why it is the National League’s No. 1 seed this year with a mercy-rule victory over West Cal Concrete in the semifinals. Leading Walker’s offensive attack is Chaz Lowery (.517, 11 RBIs), Chris Bodily (.500), Pat Hayden (.483, 14 RBIs), Walter Carson (.444, 15 RBIs), Mike Lenz (.432, 10 RBIs) and Dusty Moores (.395, 13 RBIs).
From the circle, Walker’s leans on Aaron Wilcox, who dominated in his team’s semifinal win.
“Aaron’s been throwing great these past several games, and as long as he keeps his pace, we’re looking good.” said Carson, Walker’s catcher.
For A-Z, they enter the title game on the heels of a 10-6 victory over Partners in Care in the semifinals. Leading A-Z from the plate is Donavan Chilton (.448, two homeruns, 13 RBIs), Kevin Cookson (.424), Ray Thompson (.412) and Dustin Thompson (.400).
From the circle, A-Z has a veteran pitcher in Kenny Brose, who was strong in his team’s semifinal victory.
“Gotta have patience,” said Carson. “They will throw Kenny and he’s tough to hit. If we can stay off his rise ball, we’ll do better. It’s really about having patience at the plate.”
A-Z catcher Mike Meyer said the key to victory for his team will be playing solid defense.
“If our defense comes to play we can win,” Meyer said. “Kenny’s an amazing pitcher. If he snaps off his pitches, he strikes everybody out. But it’s the defense — that’s the key.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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