The more they play together, the better they get—and they almost were good enough to beat the defending league champs.
Just one bad inning prevented the Fort Frances Angels from pulling off an upset over the Fort Frances Her-icanes, who hung on for an 11-7 win in Rainy River District Women's Fastball League action Monday evening at VanJura here.
The first-place 'Canes (8-1) stayed two points clear of the Fort Frances Mud Dogs (7-2) and Big Grassy Lynx (6-1-2) with their third-straight victory.
But even though the loss was the fifth in a row for the Angels (2-6), who sit tied for eighth place with the Emo Renegades (2-6), it showed the teenaged team is starting to find ways to be competitive against more experienced squads.
The Angels' troubles lay mainly in a five-run second inning for the 'Canes courtesy of control issues on the mound and three costly errors.
Sara Jackson loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit batter sandwiched between two walks before No. 9 hitter Norma Reather (2-for-3, three RBI) lofted a soft single into shallow right-field to score Andrea Sweigard.
Dana Ward then hit a one-hopper back to Jackson, who motioned towards the plate but then changed her mind and decided to go to first instead.
But her throw sailed wide of Reece McQuaker, allowing Taylor Pagee and Sarah Noonan to scamper home.
McQuaker's subsequent throw ended up missing the mark—giving Reather the chance to motor in to make it 5-0, with Ward ending up on third.
With one out, Laureen Hill grounded to Jackson but McQuaker dropped the toss to her as Ward raced in.
Rylee Redford (3-for-3, three RBI) belted a two-run double in the third to score Siobhan Mackintosh (a hit and a walk in her rookie debut) and Carly McKinnon, then scored on Courtney Carlson's ground-out to cut the lead to 6-3.
But Reather was back for more in the bottom of the inning as Redford took over in relief.
Her hit just eluded the glove of McKinnon charging in from right-field to bring around two more runners to make it 8-3.
Miscues bit the Angels again in the sixth, allowing the 'Canes to score two more runs.
Charity McMahon's RBI grounder in the fifth pushed the lead to 11-3 before the Angels launched a late charge.
Caity Visser's two-out single in the sixth got drove in Redford and Jackson. Then in the seventh, RBI singles by Redford and Jackson brought the Angels closer.
But with two on, Avery Sivonen lined out to Noonan at short to end the game.
Hill threw an eight-hitter to stay a perfect 5-0 on the season, while Jackson was saddled with the loss.
Meanwhile, the Mud Dogs kept pace with a 17-11 win over the host Manitou T-Birdies.
Summer Leonard hit her league-leading fourth homer of the season of Mud Dogs' pitcher Rachelle Yeo.
It was also her third straight game with a homer, which set a new modern-day RRDWFL record.
But Yeo held firm the rest of the way to become the league's first seven-game winner.
Leonard took the loss for the T-Birdies (2-6).
The night's other game between the Lynx and the fourth-place Red Gut Babes (5-3-1) ended in a 12-12 draw.
Tracy Morningstar belted her second homer in two games since rejoining the Babes last week.
But Candace Handorgan remained unbeaten on the hill (6-0-2) as she went pitch for pitch with Alyssa Windego of Red Gut.
The Dawson Tigers (4-5) kept moving up the standings—this time doing it the easy way with a 7-0 forfeit triumph over the last-place Sabaskong Tebinaak (1-6).
The game between Emo and the Couchiching Lady Raiders (3-4-1) was postponed due to a funeral, with the game to be made up sometime next week.
The Northwest Bay Beavers (4-3-2) had the bye Monday.
League action resumes tonight at 7 p.m. with five games on the schedule (weather permitting), including the Mud Dogs hosting Sabaskong at the St. Francis Sports Field.
The 'Canes are in Manitou, the Angels head to Northwest Bay, Couchiching visits Red Gut, and Emo is in Pinewood to face Dawson.