Vikes take the trophy

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2006

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
NILES - It was a game befitting its namesake.
The first Matt Kurtis Memorial would have been a game that "Matty" would have loved.
Matt Kurtis passed away earlier this year and was the longtime manager for Brandywine softball. However, Kurtis' love and support of the game was felt not only by Bobcat athletes, but Niles athletes as well. He was a frequent visitor and helped with a lot of the N.B.G.S.A. summer league softball games, where most of the high school players began their softball careers.
Despite everything that he had seen throughout the years, Monday evening's contest between the two teams was softball at its highest level and Matty would have been very proud.
Both squads were playing for a traveling trophy, which was desperately wanted by both schools, but in the end, it was Niles that got to take home the trophy as it posted a 1-0 victory over arch rival Brandywine in 10 innings.
"It was a heckuva softball game," Niles coach Jim Arnold said afterward. "It's too bad that someone had to lose. Both teams played well. Both teams had their chances and both pitchers bore down and got the big outs when they needed them."
Niles scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning when Karly Kennedy led off with a single. Kennedy moved to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Annalee Nelson and scored when Cricket Fisher's grounder toward first base took a strange hop past Brandywine first baseman Kristina Ford.
Up to that point, neither team was able to capitalize on scoring chances - at least the few that presented themselves.
Pitchers Jenna Ignowski of Niles, a freshman, and Brandywine senior Kelli Zache worked to near perfection during the contest.
Combined, the two allowed just 11 hits and they struck out 16 and 17 respectively.
"She's got a lot of poise and moxie for a freshman," Arnold said. "Her future is only going to get brighter."
Brandywine coach Jim Myers was equally impressed with Zache.
"Our pitcher threw an excellent game," he said.
Myers noted that the difference in the game was the fact that Niles got the bunt down when it needed to and his squad didn't.
"We couldn't get the bunt down," Myers said. "When you don't get bunts down you don't win games. They got their bunt down (in the 10th inning) and moved their runner."
Niles finished with seven hits off of Zache, who stranded five Niles baserunners.
The Bobcats had four hits and left eight runners on base, including five in scoring position.
Ignowski and Kennedy both had two hits for Niles. Ignowski singled and doubled.
Kendra Zache and Ford each had two hits for the Lady Bobcats. Ford singled and tripled.
Niles, now 15-8 on the season, will host Lakeshore in a Big 16 West Division doubleheader today at 4:30 p.m. at Vella Park.
Brandywine returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to Portage Northern for a non-conference clash. That contest begins at 4:30 p.m. as well.
Brandywine 000 000 000 0 - 0 4 2
Niles 000 000 000 1 - 1 7 1
Kelli Zache (L, 21-6), Jenna Ignowski (W, 11-7)
2B: Ignowski (N)
3B: Krinsta Ford (B)
Records: Brandywine 26-8, Niles 15-8