The St. George’s Jaguars’ Softball Programme has been one to marvel at over the past few years.
This past Wednesday, January 8, the Jaguars renewed their dominance over the high school softball scene by claiming their fifth straight senior boys’ title in the Grand Bahama Secondary School Athletic Association Churchill Tener Knowles/Michael Moss High School Softball League.
While last year’s title win came at the expense of the Tabernacle Falcons, the Jags took no prisoners against this year’s opponent in the Jack Hayward Wildcats at the EMERA Baseball Park.
It took only two innings to bring the mercy rule into effect (teams must be leading by 15 runs in two innings or 10 runs in three innings). While the Wildcats managed to score two runs at the top of the first inning, the Jaguars erupted for 18 runs in the bottom of the first inning to make the final score 18-2.
Shortstop for the Jaguars, John McKenzie was named the game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the park, the Falcons bounced back from last year’s junior boys’ championship loss to defeat the Sunland Stingers, 6-5.
Pitcher Mark Parker pitched a full game and came away as the MVP of this year’s junior boys’ title showdown.
Finally, in the junior girls’ championship, played the following day (January 9), the Sunland Stingers ended the Sister Mary Patricia Russell Panthers’ five-year streak as champions with 16-8 victory. Pitcher LaShae Smith was named the MVP.
The Jaguars turned in the perfect season en route to claiming their fifth-straight championship. Catcher for the five-time champions, Chad Evans, voiced that their goal was to go out and execute their game plan from start to finish.
“We came out, played our best and I thank God for the victory.
“We came out, we hit and stole bases when the opportunity arose. We made little errors and played solid defense to get the outs.”
Second baseman, Dion Storr said the team’s chemistry had a lot to do with the success and the manner in which the team has succeeded all these years.
“Our team this year and last year, we have players who play baseball. We played either on the same team or on opposing teams. So, we were all good playing with each other.
“On top of that we practiced daily for softball - it’s our favorite sport next to basketball at St. George’s. Hopefully we continue to win and this feels great.”
The Falcons suffered a tough loss to the Jaguars in last year’s championship. This time around Falcons’ Head Coach Salaika Williams said, they wanted to ensure they finished the job.
She also praised Parker’s resilience down the stretch of a very close game with the Stingers closing in to take the lead in the final inning of the contest.
“This year we basically came back with the same team. We lost one or two players. The guys played team ball. Parker was really strong for us this season and we went undefeated the entire season.
“The defense came through big and they did excellent.”
In the bottom of the fifth and final inning the Falcons held a 6-3 over the Stingers. Looking to rally with a runner on second, a base hit by the Stingers drove that runner in and made it a 6-4 game still in the Falcons’ favor.
Later, with runners on first and third and two outs hanging over the Stingers another base hit drove in a runner to make it a 6-5 game.
Parker was faced with a tough situation afterwards. The hit left runners on second and third. Parker eventually walked the next batter leaving the bases loaded and the Stingers in prime position to walk-off with a win.
Facing two balls, two strikes count and needing just one more out to seal the deal, Parker wound up and sent the pitch straight-down the middle to score the strikeout, ending the game.
This season marked the third-straight year the Stingers faced the Panthers in the junior girls’ championship. Finally, in 2020, the Stingers got over that hump and their head coach Charleen Hamilton was elated for her girls.
“The win was an exciting one. We were favored, actually, this year to win the title this year,” she expressed, “We governed ourselves by training extremely hard. We put a lot of effort into this.
“For three years in a row we’ve met Sister Mary in the championship and two years straight they beat us. But this year we were more determined than before because four of my better players are moving onto senior level next year.
“We really put up a big fight and are grateful for the win.
“We actually ended the season undefeated so as we move forward, we’re going to put in the same tenacity and fight for it. We just have to work hard, we’re going to sweat for it so that we can enjoy the victory at the end of it,” she concluded.