LONDON, Ont. - They are the most decorated women's softball program in the history of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association. And they are looking to add to their legacy.
The reigning champion Durham Lords look to extend their record four straight gold medals when they take the diamond at the OCAA Women's Softball Championship this Friday and Saturday at Alumni Field at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.
If this isn't impressive enough, Durham has won a total of 20 OCAA championships, accounting for 53 per cent of the women's softball titles ever awarded.
The Lords will share the stage with the OCAA regular season champion Humber Hawks, the three-time reigning silver medalist St. Clair Saints, and the upstart Conestoga Condors, who are making their first appearance at provincials since 2014.
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 on 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.
Humber Hawks (19-5, 1st OCAA)
It took some serious tie-breaking, but the Humber Hawks were awarded their first-ever regular season championship title. They now look to end a three-year medal drought at provincials.
Humber is led offensively by fifth-year second baseman Meaghan Murphy (Brampton, Ont.) and her regular season slash line of .437/.500/.662. On the rubber, third-year hurler Presly Buchanan (Guelph, Ont.) had a stellar ERA of 1.21 in 52 innings of work, good for second among OCAA players. She struck out 54 batters.
Humber last won the OCAA championship back in 2013, the second of back-to-back titles. This season, the Hawks have a 7-5 record against teams competing at the championship.
Durham Lords (19-5, 2nd OCAA)
The Durham Lords may have lost the tiebreaker, but don't count them out just yet. In their run of four straight OCAA championships, the Lords have never won the regular season title.
Reigning OCAA Pitcher of the Year Ashley Black (Waterloo, Ont.) continues to be a workhorse for the Lords throwing 71 2/3 innings during the regular season with a league-best ERA of 0.88, striking out 51. Offensively, fourth-year third baseman Nicole Mancini (Scarborough, Ont.) had a slash line of .407/.419/.593.
The last time Durham did not earn a medal at the OCAA championship was in 2013. The Lords have a 7-5 winning record against teams at provincials in 2019. They carry a league-high 10 game winning streak into the competition.
St. Clair Saints (15-9, 3rd OCAA)
The St. Clair Saints have played the role of bridesmaids the past three seasons, advancing to the OCAA gold medal game each occasion, but ultimately falling to Durham. The Saints were also the regular season champion each time, so any change in pattern is probably welcome by St. Clair.
Second-year third baseman Rya Cowan (LaSalle, Ont.) led all OCAA players with six home runs and 36 RBI. She also contributed an impressive slash line of .449/.471/.795. When she wasn't in the field, she was on the rubber pitching 46 innings with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 22-4. Third-year pitcher Olivia Elliott (Oakville, Ont.) carried the workload pitching 62 1/3 innings striking out a league-high 69 batters.
St. Clair won't need to wait until the gold medal game to play Durham, as they are scheduled to meet Day 1. The Saints were 4-8 against Conestoga, Durham and Humber in 2019, with four of those losses taking place at the beginning of the season.
Conestoga Condors (14-10, 4th OCAA)
The Conestoga Condors are no longer on the outside looking in, winning their final three games of the regular season to snatch the final championship berth.
Nobody scored more this season than third-year shortstop Cassey Leader (Kitchener, Ont.) crossing the plate 33 times. Offensively, Leader had a slash line of .459/.510/.729. Brooklyn Billings (Guelph, Ont.) and Emily Lush (Rockwood, Ont.) combined for all 155 1/3 innings of work and an ERA of 3.70 for Conestoga during the regular season.
Conestoga held its own against the other teams competing at provincials going 6-6 in head-to-head play. The Condors last won a medal in 2014 (silver).
Championship Website: www.ocaa.com/soft
Live Webcast: www.ocaa.com/ocaalive
Friday, October 18
Game #1: Conestoga vs. Humber - 9 a.m.
Game #2: St. Clair vs. Durham - 11 a.m.
Game #3: Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2 - 1 p.m.
Game #4: Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2 - 3 p.m.
Saturday, October 19
OCAA Bronze Medal Game
Game #5: Winner Game #3 vs. Loser Game #4 - 10 a.m.
Losing team presented OCAA Bronze Medal at conclusion of game
OCAA Gold Medal Game(s)
Game #6: Winner Game #4 vs. Winner Game #5 - 1 p.m.
Game #7*: Winner Game #4 vs. Winner Game #5 - 3 p.m.
OCAA Gold and Silver Medals presented at the conclusion of final game
- OCAA -
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