Stratford Connecticut's Women's Major Fastpitch















John Stratton: Brakettes Bound Since 1947

by Peter Vander Veer, Stratford Star, August 21, 2016

John Stratton's depth of history with the Stratford (Raybestos) Brakettes stretches all the way back to the team's inception in 1947.    more . . . .

Brakettes Outduel Saints in Classic WMS Final

August 8 - The Stratford Brakettes bounced back from a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Saints in the Women's Major Softball National Championship Game on Sunday, earning their own 1-0 victory in the “IF” game to secure their seventh consecutive title at DeLuca Hall of Fame Field.

The Brakettes were sitting pretty as the only undefeated squad entering the tournament's last day, thanks to a dramatic 3-0 win over the Saints on Saturday night in the Winner's Bracket Final. The trio of games played over two days amounted to an impromptu best-of-three between the two pre-tournament favorites.

The survivors from the Loser's Bracket had to defeat the Brakettes twice on Sunday to clinch the title, and the Saints were stopped halfway to the ultimate goal.

St. Louis qualified for the Championship by virtue of a 2-1 victory over the Dutchess Debs (NY) in the Loser's Bracket Final.

The Debs proved to be the biggest surprise of the tournament, posting a 3-2 record in bracket play to finish third. The young upstarts from the Empire State upset both the Lyons Spirit (PA) and New York City Havoc in bracket play, eliminating the latter from the WMS, as well as the Connecticut Seahawks.

Sarah Finck led St. Louis to a 1-0 victory in the first matchup of the day between the Saints and the Brakettes, as she struck out three and limited Stratford to four hits. The decision marked the first time that the Saints defeated the Brakettes during WMS play, and was the first loss for Stratford in the tournament since 2009.

Brandice Balschmiter (12-1) took the tough loss, as she went the distance and struck out seven batters. She surrendered nine hits, and repeatedly worked out of jams until the top of the sixth. Until that fateful inning, Balschmiter managed to strand eight runners on the basepaths, including five in scoring position.

Kate Sullens scored the game's only run for the Saints after reaching on an infield single in the sixth. She advanced to second on a fielder's choice and went to third on a single to left by Jolie Duffner. Alexa Holland reached on a two-out infield single, which allowed Sullens to race home for the 1-0 lead, which turned out to be decisive.

Balschmiter struck out the next batter to leave the bases loaded, and fanned two more in the seventh to keep it close.

However, Finck kept the Brakettes off the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, despite a leadoff single from Sarah Bencivenga. She eventually reached third, but was stranded there as a comebacker to Finck closed out the Saints' win.

Brakette ace Megan Good proved to be the difference maker in the “IF” game, as the Brakettes won the rematch by the slimmest of margins. Good struck out three and walked none, while scattering five singles to earn the win. She also drove in the only run of the game in the second inning.

Bencivenga led off the second and singled down the left-field line. With one out, Good drilled a hard grounder past the outstretched reach of second baseman Jolie Duffner, which bounced past the centerfielder and into the gap. Bencivenga came home from first on the hit, and Good took second as the throw came home.

The 1-0 edge was enough for Good, who closed out the win in the seventh, despite hits from Ashley Nicolao and Finck. The runners were stranded at second and third, respectively, when Good induced a grounder to first to clinch the title.

Brakettes finished at 52-3 for the season, while Good finished the 2016 campaign with a 9-0 record. She won both the Joan Joyce Award (Most Outstanding Player) and Micki Stratton Award (Most Valuable Player) for the tournament. Val Suto won the Batting Title with a .467 clip in Bracket Play, while Denise Denis shared the Pat Dufficy Award with six other players for most home runs in bracket play (1).

The final three games of the 2016 Women's Major tournament were one-run decisions, clearly establishing this year's tourney as the most well-contested in WMS history.

Many thanks go out to all the players, coaches, field staff, volunteers, family and friends of the WMS for making this year's edition the best yet!

WMS "IF" Game (13)
5:40 PM Sunday, August 7
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
STL SAINTS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
BRAKETTES 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 1 6 0
Batteries: Saints- Madi Norman (L) and Olivia Denslow; Brakettes- Megan Good (W, 9-0) and Hannah Cooper

WMS Championship Game (12)
3:00 PM Sunday, August 7
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
STL SAINTS 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 9 0
BRAKETTES 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
Batteries: Saints- Sara Finck (W) and Ashley Nikolao; Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (L, 12-1) and Hannah Cooper

Brakettes Clinch Spot in WMS Title Game

August 7 - The Stratford Brakettes clinched a berth in Sunday's Championship Game with a pair of victories Saturday, including a dramatic 3-0 decision over the St. Louis Saints in the WMS Winner's Bracket Final at DeLuca HOF Field in Stratford, CT. Both teams were scoreless until the seventh inning, when a bases-loaded, two-run single by Denise Denis broke the tie.

Stratford clobbered the Connecticut Seahawks 10-1 in the Winner's Bracket Semis in their first game of the day, while the Saints advanced to their matchup with the Brakettes with a win over the Dutchess Debs (NY), 2-1.

The Brakettes will await the survivor of the Loser's Bracket in the Championship Game, which is scheduled for 3:00 Sunday afternoon. The Saints will play at 1:00 in the Loser's Bracket Final, hoping to get a second crack at their longtime rivals.

Tatum Buckley got the offense going with a leadoff double in the third inning of the early contest, when the Brakettes scored three runs against the Seahawks.

Jordan Whitley singled to score Buckley for a 1-0 lead with one out, and moved up a bag on a base hit by Hannah Cooper. With two outs, Amber Radomski delivered a single to right, plating Whitley for a 2-0 advantage. Val Suto followed and walked to load the bases, and a base on balls by Britt Lampert pushed home the third run of the frame for Stratford.

The Seahawks scored their only run in the bottom of the third, when Jenna DiLorenzo led off with a walk. A wild pitch sent DiLorenzo to second and a groundout moved her to third with two outs. Teresa Marchitto reached on an error, which sent DiLorenzo home and narrowed the gap to 3-1.
Sarah Bencivenga and Buckley picked up consecutive singles to start the Brakettes' fourth, and a sac bunt by Patti Sciglimpaglia put two in scoring position. Whitley drove in Bencivenga with a sac fly to center, stretching the margin to 4-1. Cooper came up next and singled to right, sending Buckley across for a 5-1 lead.

Buckley started a five-run rally in the top of the fifth with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. A passed ball allowed Buckley to get to third, and a Patti Sciglimpaglia single to left scored Buckley for a 6-1 advantage.

Whitley reached on a fielder's choice, which saw Sciglimpaglia forced out at second. Cooper and Mandie Fishback contributed base hits to load the bases, and a single by Radomski drove in two runs for an 8-1 mark.

Suto picked up a single to move both runners into scoring position, and a pair of wild pitches sent Fishback and Radomski home to round out the scoring at 10-1.

Brandice Balschmiter struck out three in the home fifth to close out the victory, improving to 12-0 for the year with a 12-strikeout, two-hit performance.

The Winner's Bracket Final produced an instant classic, with the Brakettes' Megan Good and Saints' Madi Norman engaged in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel. Neither team could muster a run through the first six frames, despite both teams having multiple chances.

The Brakettes stranded nine baserunners in the first six innings, including six in scoring position. The bases were left loaded in the third for Stratford, when Norman induced a grounder to get out the jam.

The best hope for the Saints came in the bottom of the fourth, when leadoff batter Alexa Holland walked and raced to third on a double by Sammy Bunch. Good got out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts and a comebacker.

Cooper led off the top of the seventh with a double to left-center, and Whitley came on as her courtesy runner. Fishback sacrificed Whitley to third, putting the potential go-ahead run just 60 feet from home plate. Suto and Lampert both walked to load the bases with two outs, and Denis singled up the middle to put the Brakettes up 2-0 and bring the home crowd to their feet. Sarah Bencivenga singled to right to score Lampert, stretching the lead to 3-0.

The Saints threatened in the home seventh, but Good stranded runners at the corners to secure the win. She struck out 11 and walked just one, while scattering four hits to improve to 8-0 on the season.

Norman went the distance and limited the Brakettes to eight hits, while striking out five. She also picked up two of the hits on the night for the Saints.

The last scheduled game of the night, a Loser's Bracket game between the NYC Havoc and Dutchess Debs (NY) was postponed to Sunday morning at 9:00, while all other scheduled contests were pushed back two hours. The winner of that game will take on the Connecticut Seahawks at 11 am, with that winner moving on to face the Saints in the Loser's Bracket Final at 1:00.

The Championship Game will start at 3:00 pm, with the “IF” game scheduled for 5:00.

All games from the 2016 Women's Major Softball National Championship will be broadcast at

WMS Winners' Bracket Final, Game 9
9:00 PM Saturday, August 6
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
BRAKETTES 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 8 0
STL SAINTS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
Batteries: Brakettes- Megan Good (W, 8-0) and Hannah Cooper; Saints- Madi Norman (L) and Olivia Denslow

WMS Bracket Play, Game 5
12:30 PM Saturday, August 6
Video Archive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
BRAKETTES 0 3 2 0 5 10 16 1
CT SEAHAWKS 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 1
Batteries: Brakettes- Brandice Balschmiter (W, 12-0) and Hannah Cooper; Seahawks- Missy Pereira (L), Katie Koshes (4), Ashley Mendillo (5) and Meg Hodgdon

When you talk about softball dynasties,
there's only one name that comes to mind...
the BRAKETTES!     more ...

1981 Brakettes on 60 Minutes
from Stratford Brakettes on Vimeo.

5:00 PM Sunday, Aug 7th
"IF" Game
Brakettes 1, STL Saints 0
Aug 4-7, 8th Annual
Women's Major Softball
National Tournament
Video Archive on
Brakettes Featured