KITCHENER, Ont. - One team is looking to establish a new conference milestone. Another is looking to shed its bridesmaid label. Two more teams are aiming for a return to the podium.
The Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Women's Softball Championship presented by belairdirect takes place this Friday and Saturday at Budd Park in Kitchener, Ont.
The three-time defending OCAA champion Durham Lords are targeting an unprecedented four-peat in women's softball, while the six-time reigning regular season champion St. Clair Saints look to reach the top of the mountain for the first time since 2014. The Saints have settled for silver medals the last two seasons.
The other two teams competing at provincials include the Humber Hawks and Fanshawe Falcons. Humber failed to win a medal at last year's provincials, while Fanshawe returns to the championship following a one-year absence.
Only four wins separated the top team from fourth place during the regular season, setting up what should be a very competitive two days of competition. The four teams will play in a double-knockout tournament, playing a minimum of two games each. Clubs are eliminated from the competition after their second loss. Schools are seeded based on regular season record.
The team that wins both games in the opening day of the tournament advances directly to the gold medal game, with two chances to win the championship. The team that avoids a second loss wins the tournament and the OCAA title.
St. Clair Saints (20-4, 1st OCAA)
The St. Clair Saints won their sixth consecutive regular season championship this year, but success in September and early October hasn't translated to gold medals during this span.
Over the previous five seasons, St. Clair has won one championship (2014) and three silver medals. In 2015, the Saints were shut out of the medals completely (against the three teams they will be facing in 2018).
But this will become a distant memory if St. Clair can lock up gold this weekend. If they do so, it will be on the strength of their hitting with a league-best .391 batting average and 198 runs scored.
Fifth-year catcher/infielder Michaela Rilett (Windsor) was two hits shy of an OCAA regular season record with 46, leading all OCAA batters with a .554 batting average, .570 on-base percentage and .747 slugging percentage.
St. Clair had an 8-4 regular season record against its three potential opponents at provincials.
Durham Lords (18-6, 2nd OCAA)
If there is a team that likes to play possum during the regular season, its the Durham Lords. Historically they do what they need to do to get into the OCAA Championship, then tap into their inner NOS and shift it into overdrive.
A prime example of this came in 2015, when the Lords were the bottom seed at provincials. Three straight victories later, they had the OCAA gold medals around their necks.
Durham has won 19 provincial championships, but have never won more than three straight. The Lords managed this feat three times, however, but can do what no other team has done with a 20th title this weekend.
Pitching was a strength of the Lords during the regular season, with a league-best 2.10 ERA. Head coach Jim Nemish has his pick of three of the top four ERA leaders in OCAA, including Ashley Black (Waterloo), Emily Glendinning (Plattsville) and Andrea Patrick (Whitby).
Durham has a record of 6-6 against teams competing at the championship in 2018.
Humber Hawks (17-7, 3rd OCAA)
Humber set a program record with 17 wins during the regular season, and is looking to return to its 2012 and 2013 form when it won back-to-back OCAA titles.
The Hawks were strong with the bats and on the rubber this season, with a .354 batting average and 2.70 ERA.
Elisa Gregoris (Mississauga) set a new OCAA regular season record with 37 RBI (on the strength of a .507 batting average), while Myranda Pierson (Pickering) had a league-best 1.54 ERA.
The Hawks enter provincials with the longest current winning streak of seven games. All but one of these victories, however, came against teams that did not qualify for the championship.
Humber went 3-1 against Fanshawe, and 1-3 against Durham and St. Clair.
Fanshawe Falcons (16-8, 4th OCAA)
The Fanshawe Falcons have soared back to the OCAA championship with their best regular season record since 2016.
The young program has never finished in the top two at provincials, but recorded back-to-back bronze medals in 2015 and 2016.
The Falcons won't steal your wallet, but they will steal a base or two. Fanshawe led the OCAA in stolen bases with 75, thirty-three more than their closest rival Humber.
Kennedi Roth (Stratford), Samantha Fuller (Ingersoll) and Jacey Lochert (Bellwood) were three of the top four base stealers in OCAA during the regular season, with Roth and Fuller compiling 47 between them.
Fanshawe posted 2-2 records against St. Clair and Durham during the regular season, and were 1-3 against Humber.
Championship Website: www.ocaa.com/championships/soft/2018-19/index
Live Webcast: TBA
Friday, October 19
Game 1: Fanshawe vs. St. Clair - 11 a.m.
Game 2: Humber vs. Durham - 1 p.m.
Game 3: Losers of Games 1 and 2 - 3 p.m.
Game 4: Winners of of Games 1 and 2 - 5 p.m.
Saturday, October 20
OCAA Bronze Medal Game
Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 - 10 a.m.
Loser awarded Bronze, winner advances to Gold Medal Game
OCAA Gold Medal Game(s)
Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Bronze Medal Game - 1 p.m.
A second Gold Medal Game will be played at 3 p.m. if necessary
- OCAA -
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