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New England Riptide Capture National Pro Fastpitch Championship

The New England Riptide defeated the Connecticut Brakettes Monday night by a 2-0 margin, to win their first ever NPF Championship, at Frank DeLuca HOF Field in Stratford, CT. Jocelyn Forest added an NPF Championship Series Most Valuable Player award to her already impressive resume, as she went the distance, striking out seven and stranding seven Brakettes on base.

New England started the scoring in the fourth inning, when KJ Kelley reached on a one-out single. Tarrah Beyster then grounded back to Brakette starter Sarah Pauly, who turned and fired for the force at second. With a chance for a double play, the throw bounded off shortstop Jessica Merchant’s glove into center field, allowing both runners to advance safely. With one out and runners at first and second, Lisa Iancin launched a double to left, which one-hopped to the wall and sent pinch-runner Jaime Haas home to take a 1-0 lead. Pauly was able to get Kristin Vesely to pop to short, then caught Jen Scavone looking to strand runners at second and third.

The Riptide scored again in the fifth inning, when Lindy Winkler was hit by a pitch with one out. Jackie Pasquerella singled to push Winkler to second, and set the stage for Lindsey Angus to star once again. Angus, who scored the only run in Saturday’s semi-final victory over the Chicago Bandits, would not disappoint the Riptide faithful, who traveled down from Lowell, MA to follow their team. She lined a single to score Winkler, and provided Jocelyn Forest and the Riptide a 2-0 lead and some more breathing room.

Forest apparently didn’t need the help, as she stifled the Brakettes’ greatest threat in the bottom of the fifth. Connecticut loaded the bases with one out, as Callie Piper, Heather Wright, and Kelly Kretschman had consecutive one-out singles off the former College World Series MVP. Forest got Kellie Wilkerson to strike out swinging and Merchant to pop out to left to escape trouble. She would allow a leadoff single to Stephanie Hill in the seventh, but retired the next three Brakettes to secure the crown.

Winkler was 2-3 with a run scored, and Angus had two hits and an RBI. Iancin’s RBI double was the only extra-base hit of the game, and one of just two in the entire series, as pitching dominated from start to finish.

Forest finished the series with both Riptide wins, while throwing 16 scoreless innings, scattering seven hits, and striking out 14.

Pauly went the distance Monday for the Brakettes, giving up seven hits and striking out eight. She had 22 strikeouts in her two starts.

While the Riptide were playing in their second NPF Final in the league’s three-year existence, the Brakettes fell short in trying to win their first professional title, after 59 seasons of amateur softball domination. The Brakettes won 26 amateur titles previous to this year’s move to the pro ranks, while the Riptide lost the 2004 title game to the NY/NJ Juggernaut.