By Faith Ho (22A01A) and Natalie Tan (23A01B)
Photos courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
On 24 May, RI’s Softball Girls team stepped onto the River Valley High School field to play finals against Hwa Chong, whom they had been defeated by in one of the preliminary rounds. Fresh from a stunning victory against 5-time champion ACJC in a nail-biting match, the team were eager to seize this opportunity to clinch the gold and steal back a win from Hwa Chong.
Despite the blazing sun, an enthusiastic crowd of supporters gathered to cheer on the team. Many of the softball alumni and juniors from RGS were also in attendance, and joined in on the cheering.
How the game works.
The first two innings saw an impressive defense from RI with their pitcher, Chan Csen Csen (22S06F, #7) striking out opposing batters. RI’s fielders also more than played their part: with swift reflexes and seamless teamwork, they tagged out Hwa Chong’s runners to hold Hwa Chong to 0 runs in both innings.
Csen (22S06F, #7) pitching a strike.
Nurul Hannah (23S06A, #4) catching a strike from Csen.
In the bottom half of the second inning, RI came tantalisingly close to securing a lead when multiple balls by the Hwa Chong pitcher gave Tara Sawney (22A01A, #13) a walk to first base. She capitalised on another mistake by Hwa Chong to steal second base and then advanced to third base, putting her within reach of scoring the first run of the game. A hit by team captain Adele Yuen (22S06M, #72) saw Tara (#13) reach home plate, but Hwa Chong tapped Adele (#72) out at first base to record their third out and invalidate RI’s run, keeping the score at 0-0.
Tara (22A01A, #13) preparing to swing.
The real action came in the third inning. In the top half, Hwa Chong managed to score one run despite two consecutive strikeouts from Csen (#07). Amidst shouts of “nevermind” and “go Raffles” from supporters, the softballers rallied their spirits and made an epic comeback.
When it was her turn to bat, Caitlin Cheah (23S03K, #3) made a bunt. The Hwa Chong catcher grabbed it and threw it to the fielder on first base, but a fumble led to the ball going into the outfield. Caitlin (#03) seized the opportunity and ran past the first… second… third… then back to home base! She had scored a homerun and equalised the score. The field erupted in cheers.
Caitlin (23S03K, #3) reaching first base as Hwa Chong fumbled.
RI rode the momentum of this win into the top of the fourth inning, where a skilful catch by Adele (#72) at first base led to RI’s first out. Two more formidable strikeouts by pitcher Csen (#07) led to RI rapidly ending their half of the inning. As they stepped up to bat, a sacrificial bunt by Toh Yih Wei (22S06A, #24) saw Calysta Lau (22S03G, #77) reach third base, but unfortunately, Hwa Chong caught a flyball to record their last out and bring the inning to an end before RI could score any more runs.
Team captain Adele (22S06M, #72) catching a fly ball and scoring RI’s first out.
Yih Wei (22S06A, #24) making a sacrificial bunt.
Hwa Chong was determined to score in the fifth inning (the final inning if they were not tied), and came dangerously close. They managed to place a player on 3rd base, but the steadiness of Csen’s (#07) pitching led to a strikeout. With those 3 outs, they lost their chance to break the tie.
Now it was Raffles’ chance to score — and become the champions. The first two batters were unfortunately out, and the chances of a win seemed to be very slim. However, things looked up when the next batter, Caitlin (#03), managed to run until third base. All the pressure was now on the next batter, Denise Tan (22S03J, #87), to hit the ball and give Caitlin (#03) the chance to make a run. Unfortunately, this was not to be, as the adeptness of Hwa Chong’s pitcher led to a strikeout.
Denise (22S03J, #87) going for the hit.
With the score tied at 1-1, the teams headed into the tie-breaking 6th inning, both determined not to let the other win. Tensions ran high, as even Raffles and Hwa Chong supporters competed to out-cheer each other.
However, midway through the top of the 6th inning, the beeping of the lightning alert cut through the game.
Amidst groans of the spectators and the cheers of the Raffles players (who had a GP/KI exam the next morning), the match was delayed for an hour to see if the bad weather would subside. To many groans from supporters, and after a false momentary stop in the alert, the game was definitively postponed to the next day, leaving the final outcome of the game on a cliffhanger.
The team and their coaches rallying together after the postponement was announced.
RI did not let this unexpected interruption rattle them. They continued the next day to fight, despite the lack of supporters (who were all taking exams) and the absence of two of their coaches, who were unable to be present. After the top of the sixth inning, they held Hwa Chong to 0 runs.
The next half of the inning would prove to be crucial: if RI could score just one run, they would win the match and the title. With Denise (#87) on second base and poised to sprint, Csen (#07) bunted and ran to first base. Supporters held their breath as the runner paused at third base, all waiting to see if Hwa Chong would be able to tag Csen out…
They were greeted by the sight of Hwa Chong missing the throw to first base and the ball rolling past the fielders, marking Csen safe at first base and allowing Denise (#87) to come home and score the game-winning run! The players exploded into deafening cheers as they sprinted onto the field to embrace each other in triumph.
RI had won the match, 2 runs to 1!
This victory was made even sweeter by the fact that it was Raffles Softball Girls’ first time clinching the A Division championship in ten years.
When asked what she thought about the team’s performance, team captain Adele said, “I think everyone in the team played with their hearts on the line this season and ended up surpassing everyone’s expectations, even our own. I’m really proud of the amount everyone’s grown in the short 3 weeks we had.”
The team’s dedication and collective synergy was evident throughout the season, and ultimately drove them to clinch the championship. When the team gathered for a call with their coaches post-match, exuberance for the hard-won win was palpable.
Raffles Press would like to congratulate Girls’ Softball on their stunning triumph!
The team video calling their other two coaches after the victory.
Cheers to gold!
Scoreline by Inning
1st inning: 0 – 0
2nd inning: 0 – 0
3rd inning: 1 – 1
4th inning: 0 – 0
5th inning: 0 – 0
6th inning: 1 – 0 to RI
Final score: 2 – 1 to RI
Team Captain: Adele Yuen (22S06M, #72)
Vice-Captain: Denise Tan (22S03J, #87)
Amanda Chan (22S06O, #36)
Arinah Nur’ain (22S06L, #9)
Asha Selvam (22A01D, #14)
Axil Tan (23S03K, #5)
Caitlin Cheah (23S03K, #3)
Calysta Lau (22S03G, #77)
Chan Csen Csen (22S06F, #7)
Goh Sephine (23S06J, #11)
Jodi Kam (23S07A, #10)
Kong Jia En (23S06R, #2)
Kylene Loo (23SO3Q, #8)
Nurul Hannah (23S06A, #4)
Syeda Aliza Nadir (23SO3H, #1)
Tara Sawney (22A01A, #13)
Toh Yih Wei (22S06A, #24)