Panthers Softball club are the winners of the 2011 Barloworld Softball Challenge.
The team defeated BDF IX in a very tense and thrilling six-innings final game to clinch their second trophy of the season.
Panthers, who were without their talismanic pitcher Tony Moyo, grinded a narrow 6 ÔÇô 5 victory over BDF IX. With both teams boasting some of the greatest array of softball talent in the country, the final was expected to sizzle and it did not disappoint.
Both teams produced no points in the first innings as their pitchers made light work against the batters. Panthers were the first on offense but their batters found it hard to get any runs against BDF Pitcher Obonetse Makala. It was more of the same for BDF IX on offense as Timothy Botlhole, who was pitching for Panthers, gave them a hard time. The game, however, came to life in the second innings as both teams showed intention.
Panthers, coming at the top of the innings, registered their first runs, thanks to Selemogwe Disang and Bofelo Lopang to make it 2 ÔÇô 0 for Panthers. However, their lead was reduced when BDF IX’s Cuban ace Misael Thompson hit a home run, a first for the game, to register his team’s first run of the game.
BDF IX could, however, not register any more runs in the innings as their batsmen were either quickly sent back to the dugout by Panthers’ pitcher Botlhole or caught out.
The second inning came to a close with Panthers leading by 2 runs to 1 of BDF. In the top three innings, the Panther’s duo of Selemogwe and Petrus Sebina added another two runs to extend their team’s lead to 4 ÔÇô 1. With Sebina having made first base, Selemogwe came in to bat and he did not disappoint as he hit his team’s first home run to take himself and Sebina safely home.
BDF were, however, not to be left behind as they also registered three runs in the third innings to bring parity in scores between the two teams. As was with Panthers’ runs, after BDF IX’s Molemi Matshediso made first base, Steve Ketlogetswe, who followed him hit a home run to take the duo safely home.
The team then looked on course to register two more points to surpass Panthers but their efforts yielded only one more single run, courtesy of Neo Mngqabisa.
Mngqabisa, who had made progress to the second base, was helped by the good batting of Thompson. The latter, batting after Mngqabisa, hit a hard low ball which the Panther’s fielders made a meal of, leaving him to make two bases while Mngqabisa ran home.
The assault on Panthers, however, fizzled as the following batters failed to make their mark and were all quickly sent to the dugout by the Panthers’ pitcher, leaving the score level at 4 ÔÇô 4 at the end of the third inning. With the score level going into the fourth inning, BDF IX rang out changes, with pitcher Makala being replaced by national team pitcher, Kagiso Mogale.
The youngster wasted no time as he registered three strikeouts to ensure Panthers registered no run in the inning. BDF, however, failed to score any runs, thus ensuring that the teams go into the fifth inning on equal footing.
Panthers then took advantage in the fifth inning to register two runs, thanks to BoyBoy Kgaila and Sebina.
Coming on to bat with Kgaila already in first base, Sebina hit a home run to ensure that the duo run safely home. When it was their time on defense, Botlhole made way for Sebina to pitch and he lived up to expectations.
The latter’s stay at the pitch yielded only a single run for BDF IX in the fifth inning. Sebina’s major contribution in the inning was perhaps striking out BDF IX’s Cuban ace Thompson to ensure that his threat was fizzled out.
The sixth and last inning of the game produced no run as Panthers successfully defended their lead to ensure they narrowly win the game. For their efforts, Panthers walked away with a floating trophy, gold medals and P10┬á000 while BDF IX had to settle for silver medals and P7┬á000.
In individual awards, BDF IX’s duo of Mogale and Thompson walked away with awards for best pitcher and batter, respectively, while Panthers’ Tshepo Mathame was voted best catcher. The trio walked away with P500.
The highest individual honour, however, went to BDF IX’s Kabo Matlho who was voted the tournament’s most valuable player and was given P1┬á000 for his efforts.