It was a disappointing end to the Hervey Bay Softball season last Saturday with seven of the nine grand finals being washed out.
However, it was not enough to prevent it being a highly successful season for a Brothers United family.
Jan and Ken Law and their children Louise Cole, Michelle Zunker and Troy Law, grandchildren Connor and Reilly Cole, Chelsea Zunker and Tiarna and Karlea Law, and Troy’s wife Nicole, all featured prominently in Brothers United’s 2021 campaign.
Softball grand finals day at the Bay started with the hometown’s Terrors winning the Under-12 and U14 deciders against Bundaberg sides United Sparks 15-4 and Waves Riptides 8-6 respectively.
Unfortunately, torrential rain then forced the abandonment of the remaining seven games with major semi-final victors in all grades being declared the premiers.
A grade ladies minor premiers United Firesticks, who defeated their grand final opponents Waves Tsunamis in the major semi, were crowned as champions for the second year in a row.
But after taking out the A grade men’s minor title, United Heat, who were also defending champions, were edged out by Terrors 6-5 in their major semi.
Heat bounced back to down Maryborough 9-5 in the preliminary final, but they did not get the chance to challenge for the premiership on Saturday, with Terrors picking up the silverware because of the wash out.
United Flame were runners-up in B reserve men, with Terrors also claiming that gong, along with the U16 honours.
Waves Cutters were hailed as the B reserve men’s premiers ahead of their Cruisers outfit and Waves teams also wound up second in two other competitions with their Seashells and Drifters teams, in B reserve ladies and U16 respectively.
Two Bargara teams were scheduled to battle it out for B reserve ladies honours, with Leopards ultimately named premiers and Bandits runners-up.
Another Bundaberg club, West Panthers, also grabbed a premiers title – this time in the B reserve ladies.
None of which altered the success enjoyed by the Law clan at United.
Jan is the United club matriarch and president, as well as scorer for their A and B grade men’s teams, which are both coached by Ken, who is also their U16 team coach.
Louise is player/coach of their A grade ladies and coach of the U14 United Blaze, Michelle is a hard-working club committee member, and Troy is a long serving champion for their A grade men.
Connor and Reilly were both integral parts of their A and B grade men’s units, while Chelsea, who was a star in their U16 United TNT and A grade Firesticks, also received the coveted award for Representative Player of the Year.
Tiarna was also consistently good for the U16 United TNT and A grade ladies, with Karlea doubling up every week for the U12 Sparks and U14 United Blaze.
Last season, gun pitcher Chelsea, a 16-year-old Bundaberg State High School Year 11 student, was chosen in the Australian U15 team, and was named as the MVP after representing Queensland with distinction at the U16 Nationals.
She has also been selected in the U18 and U23 Queensland squads.
Louise said Chelsea also plays in the Brisbane competition every second week for Panthers, helping them to win both the A2 grade and U18 grand finals over the past month.
Tiarna is also part of the U16 Queensland squad, while Karlea is just starting her rep career, having been selected in the Hervey Bay U14 team to compete in the state championships in Maryborough next month.
Louise has been back as player/coach for two seasons after focusing solely on coaching for a couple of years, and she is loving it.
She said Chelsea had been their best throughout the season, but everyone contributed to strong team performances week-in-week-out.
“Natasha Hoopert has been a consistent player for us every week and she is our A grade Player of the Season and Clubperson, and she is pretty instrumental in our success, as well as being club secretary,” Louise said.
“Natasha was with South Sluggers, but she came over, and this is her second season with us – she is a bit of an all-rounder and she turns up for training and games and helps out – whenever I’m not available to play, she takes over the reins.
“She batted pretty consistently most of the season and in the semi-final, she took the most amazing catch at right outfield, after she played the first half of the season at first base because she has very safe hands.
“It is a young team with the likes of Jorja Lewis, Tiarna Law, Keeley Petersen and Shannon Purkis, and we don’t have too many old ones left in there and there’s been no real stand-outs as such because everyone has contributed.
“Helen Mellroff and Melissa Donald are senior players, and Amelie Bell, from Rocky, also travels down to play each week because they have a winter comp – they are all just a great group of girls.”
Meanwhile, Jan said A grade men’s best included her 22-year-old grandson Connor and her son Troy, 15 years his senior, at catcher, pitcher, or infielder.
“Also Ramiah Bowden had a great season at catcher and infielder, 19-year-old Reilly batted very consistently, and we had a couple of other players who made a big impact, father and son Steve and Nick Gehrmann,” Jan said.
Jan said it was obviously disappointing for the softball premiership to come down to the result of the major semi-final.
“We were missing a couple of players that day, but we always have very tight games against Terrors – the last two times we played them, we won by one run and lost by one,” she said. “The rain just came at the wrong time and we couldn’t do anything about that.”
Nicole Law, who is the association representative coordinator, was rewarded with the Hervey Bay Rep Volunteer of the Year trophy, while Connor Pashley, of Waves, took out the Junior Player of the Year.
Other association major award recipients included Terrors trio of Savannah Ritter (Female Softballer of the Year), Kyle Jenkins (Male Softballer of the Year), and Hunter McInerney (Volunteer of the Year), Bundaberg’s Brian McPherson (Umpire of the Year), and Bargara’s Dylan Wick (Junior Umpire of the Year).
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