It was a sad way to end a season.
A scary-looking injury to one of the Northwest Vipers players during the second game of the championship double-header brought an early end to the game, and the season, for the Battlefords and District Ladies’ Fastball League.
The incident happened on a scoring play during the bottom of the first inning between the Northwest Vipers and the Unity Midget Panthers at the Battleford Flats. According to eyewitnesses, with a Unity runner on third base in scoring position, the ball was hit towards centre but took a bad hop and hit shortstop Erin Heinemann right in the face near second base.
Play was halted for several minutes as the Vipers players gathered around their fallen shortstop. A vehicle drove onto the diamond and, with her sister joining her, Heinemann was transported to hospital for further medical attention.
All the players and fans were visibly shaken up and concerned about what happened, putting a dark cloud over what had been hoped to be a compelling finale.
After the vehicle drove off the field, the players immediately lined up and shook hands, ending the game and season.
The sudden ending created considerable confusion among fans as to who claimed the title for 2012. According to the officials afterwards, by rule Unity, won the final game by forfeit as the Vipers were reduced to seven players, not enough to continue to play.
As a result Unity wins the playoff title in 2012, but the reaction from the team was hardly what you would expect from a team that just won a title. All the Unity players left quietly, understandably with none of them in any mood to celebrate.
It was a surprising and sad end to what was shaping up to be a competitive final night of fastball. Going into the evening the Unity Midget Panthers needed to win twice over the league-leading Vipers in order to claim the playoff title under the league’s double-elimination postseason format.
Unity won the first game 6-5 in the early game, with the Panthers scoring one in the first, two in the third, one in the fourth, and one each in the sixth and seventh to claim the victory. A late rally by the Vipers fell short with only one run in the bottom of the seventh, setting up the ill-fated second game.
On the B side, it was also an sad night for the Battlefords Bantam Bandits, but in a different way.
The Bandits, who had just claimed the Bantam B provincial title in dramatic fashion on the weekend, were crushed in the B final by the Battlefords Survivors by an 11-1 count. The game was no contest from the get-go, and the mercy rule was invoked to end the game after only five innings.