“Whoody Whoo, let’s do this!” has been the Rug Sox rallying cry since their inception nearly a decade ago. Thursday night, at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven, they finally did, beating the Honeys, 8-6, to win their first Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Softball League championship.
Mariah Duarte’s two-run triple in the fifth inning proved to be the winning hit after Katherine Clark had tied the game at 6-6 with an RBI grounder, following consecutive singles by Michelle Cacciotti, Wink Cron and Jen Ingraham.
Prior to the three-run rally, in the top half of the fifth, the Rug Sox got a huge boost of momentum by retiring the heart of the Honeys order. Shortstop Emily Turney put out the always dangerous Sarah Wennes at first base, Lizzie Andrews caught Maggie Riseborough’s sharply hit ball in right-center and Turney capped off the inning by throwing a laser from the left field grass to beat out Micheli Lynn at first.
Once they had taken the lead, the Sox continued to play stellar defense to protect their advantage.
The Honeys loaded the bases in the sixth but Sox left fielder Miranda Tokarz snuffed out the threat with a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab to rob Amy Maciel.
In the seventh inning, Emily Turney ended the game with an unassisted double play to clinch the Rug Sox first title with an exclamation point, bringing dozens of fans and members from each of the other teams seated along the third base line, to their feet. The Honeys, four-time league champs, also stood and applauded.
In all, the Rug Sox (10-5) and Honeys (9-7) played five times this season. The Sox took both regular season meetings, 7-6 and 22-15, along with the first matchup in the double-elimination playoffs, 11-5. The Honeys rebounded with a rock solid 9-5 win on August 15 to bring the tournament down to one winner-take-all game.
In the finale, unlike last Tuesday night when their offense struggled, the Rug Sox stormed out of the gate with four runs in the first inning. Jen Ingraham, Mariah Duarte, Emily Turney, Marisa Estrella, Lizzie Andrews and Elizabeth Clark all singled.
The Honeys scored all six of their runs in the second inning. Elissa DeCosta, Kendall Robinson and Megan Buchanan singled to load the bases, Nicole Gazaille hit an RBI-single, Emily DeBettencourt knocked in another run with a sac-fly, and Amy Maciel laced a single down the left field line for the third run. After Kelly Silvia singled, Sarah Wennes drilled a triple to clear the bases, giving the Honeys a 6-4 lead.
Jess Sonia crossed the plate with another Sox run in the third inning but the Honeys held on to the lead until the pivotal fifth when the Rug Sox regained control and put themselves down the homestretch to the championship.