After winning the Round Two Grand Final held in Nullagine in July, Kiwirrkurra were strong favourites to secure the 2014 Western Desert League Champions title on their home soil.
With a freshly-graded and rolled red dirt softball pitch lay perfectly in waiting for a fierce competitor to nail a ground ball or desperately slide for base to mark the start of what would be an exciting wrap- up to the season.
Anticipation was in the air, with children, elders and community staff heading to the softball oval for what was set to be an exhilarating contest. Punmu and Kiwirrkurra had their eyes on the prizes – the shiny Western Desert League Premiers Cup; and the Round Three Champions Shield – which would be welcome additions to their communities’ abundance of accolades. Punmu was determined to make a strong return to the competition after missing the Nullagine Festival.
Despite a day of windstorms and hot weather, the girls took to the field with intensity and passion.
It didn’t take Punmu long to get a score on the board, earning 3 runs in their first innings. They then backed up their solid start holding Kiwirrkurra to only 1 run at the start of the second innings. Punmu continued their strong start, scoring another 4 runs to lead the game 7-1.But, it’s never over until it’s over, and it wasn’t long before the young and talented Kiwirrkurra team fought back, scoring 4 runs to narrow the gap to 2 runs. At the top of the third, Punmu were held run-less by the skilled Kiwirrkurra fielders, who then grasped the momentum, scoring 7 runs to hold the lead 12-7 heading into the final innings.
Punmu now faced a make-or-break challenge, needing to score 5 runs to continue the game. With Pamela’s pure talent on display, smoking a ball over the fence and lifting the enthusiasm of her Punmu side, the girls fought together to score 8 runs, placing them back in the lead by 3 runs at the bottom of the 4th.
Enormous pressure was now back on Kiwirrkurra, and a change in attitude was evident, causing nervousness throughout the team. With some impressive ground balls and line drives, the girls managed to score 1 run.
However, the Punmu defense remained too strong, holding their rivals to a single score and leading them to secure the Round Three Western Desert League festival title. Kiwirrkurra were deservingly crowned the 2014 Western Desert League Champions with three consistent performances in the season’s festivals, winning two of the three rounds’ Grand Finals and being-runners in their home festival.
Softball skills and tactics are improving significantly across the Western Desert, promising an exciting year of festivals ahead in 2015.