KITCHENER, Ont. - Durham College won their unprecedented 18th Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) women's softball title on Saturday with an 11-6 victory over the St. Clair Saints in the gold medal game.
A week prior, Durham's spot at the championship was in jeopardy as they sat in fifth place with eight games remaining in the regular season. The Lords reeled off seven wins over that span to qualify for the championship, where they went 3-0 outscoring their opponents 28-7 en route to the gold medal victory.
"Our bats came alive," said Durham head coach Jim Nemish. "The coaching staff told the girls that their pitching and defence was where we wanted it to be but they just needed to believe in themselves at the plate. Everyone started hitting and it became contagious. I am so proud of the way we rallied."
Durham earned a berth in the gold medal game with a 10-3 win over Fanshawe and an 8-4 victory over St. Clair. The Saints beat Fanshawe 7-1 on Saturday morning to get back into gold medal contention.
In the top of the first inning in the finals, St. Clair loaded the bases with none out. Durham managed to get two fly outs and a ground out to keep the Saints off the board.
"That was a real turning point," said Nemish. "The game could have easily gone the other way but we managed to stay composed and escape the inning."
In the bottom of the first, Rebecca Ropp (Milverton, Ont.) hit a two-run home run to put the Lords in front 2-0.
The Lords managed to blow things wide open in the bottom of the third putting up four more runs and chasing starting pitcher Sara Stiller from the game. The Lords added one more run in the fourth and two more in the fifth and sixth innings for the 11-run outburst.
St. Clair showed a lot of fight scoring six runs over the last three innings but it was too little, too late as Durham won their second consecutive OCAA title.
Ashley Black (Waterloo, Ont.), who was the Lords hottest pitcher down the stretch, threw the complete game managing to shut down the Saints offence in the first four innings. Following the tournament she was named a championship all-star.
Ropp was 3-for-4 in the championship game with two runs and four RBIs. She was named championship MVP.
Caleigh Coels (Duncan, B.C.) was perfect at the plate going 4-for-4 with a run scored while Sabrina Stalteri (Vaughan, Ont.) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"All of the players did a tremendous job," said Nemish. "Everyone contributed."
Durham won five out of six games against the silver medal winning St. Clair Saints in the season series. Fanshawe took home the bronze medal for the second straight year while the Humber Hawks ended up in fourth place.
After going through their longest championship drought since 1990 not winning gold from 2012-2014, the Lords have won back-to-back titles. Last season, the fourth seeded Lords beat the Hawks on home turf to win the championship.
Durham finishes the year with a 24-11 overall record, giving Nemish 471 career victories in 28 years on the bench.
Source: Durham College
Championship Website: ocaa.com/championships/soft/2016-17/index
Friday, October 21
Game 1: St. Clair 5, Humber 4
Game 2: Durham 10, Fanshawe 3
Game 3: Fanshawe 8, Humber 7
Game 4: Durham 8, St. Clair 4
Saturday, October 22
OCAA Bronze Medal Game
St. Clair 7, Fanshawe 1
Fanshawe awarded OCAA Bronze Medal
OCAA Gold Medal Game
Durham 11, St. Clair 6
- OCAA -
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