MADANG champions, 09ers (men) and Lae’s Island Shipping Manolos (women) are the kings and queens of the 2010 InterOil-sponsored PNG Club softball challenge.
By HENRY MORABANG, The National
Both teams collected K5,500 each, including the championship trophies.
In the men’s grand final, Madang 09ers capitalised on the PNG Power’s infield errors and a good homer by Kelly Upaupa to set the Madang champions on track for their inaugural honours.
In the women’s encounter, it was Island Manolos of Lae with sisters Tara and Shirley ToMangana proving their class against the Port Moresby Stingers to win 8-1.
The men’s showdown was one of the best witnessed for the long time at the national or club championships.
It was classic battle of the Zale brothers of Madang and the Tovias of Port Moresby’s PNG Power.
The match was so tight in both batting and fielding with no scores recorded in the first two opening innings.
PNG Power drew first blood in the top of the third inning when Demas Tovia hit a home run after his elder brother, Danny, was caught near the boundary to put them in front.
At the bottom of the same inning, PNG Power infielders seemed to lose concentration that saw Madang’s Sailas Darius sneaking home to level the score 1-1.
With two runners still on second and first base, Taki Zale attempt for a boundary fell short.
Then promising PNG representative Kelly Upaupa stepped onto batting mound and sent Danny Tovia’s delivery over boundary to grab a 4-1 lead.
Neither teams scored any points at the top of the fourth inning.
But 09ers were more composed in the bottom of the fourth inning when Desmond Zale cushioned their lead after a good three-base hit to extend the visitors’ lead to 5-1.
PNG Power came alive in the top of the fifth inning when Danny Tovia belted a three-base hit to advance his sibling Ezikiel Tovia Jr from second base to third and home base while he slid home to narrow the scores 5-3.
Despite PNG Power having the opportunity in the last two innings, 09ers pitcher Meli Tarangau, restricted the PNG Power batters from scoring any in their last turn to bat.
Elated coach Zale said his boys had been training for the event despite playing at the local competition in Madang.
“When we lost to Manolos in the semi-final of the last club championships, it had inspired the boys to work harder to come to this championship and win it,” he said.
The boys had prepared well for it and winning is bonus for softball supporters in Madang,” he said.
Awards winners: Top infielders: Antonia Tatai (Bears-POM), Junior Pulu (Island Manolos- Lae), outfielder: Shirley ToMangana (Island Manolos-Lae); Demas Tovia (PNG Power-POM); top batter: Lisa Polum (Wantoks POM), Miller Kuwoh (Mantarays POM); top pitcher: Tara ToMangana (Island Manolos-Lae) and Danny Tovia (PNG Power-POM).
The player of the tournament were Philomena Marut (Island Manalos-Lae) and Steven Polum (PNG Power-POM).