After a successful regular season in which the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks softball program had an impressive 17-5 record, good for second place in the OIWFA, the Hawks were red-hot this past weekend at the Ontario University Championships, capturing a silver medal. Laurier went 3-0 in round robin play, advancing to the semi-finals against the third place Windsor Lancers, prevailing 3-1 before falling short against the undefeated Western Mustangs in the gold medal game.
In what seems to be a yearly ritual for the cross-town rivalry, the Golden Hawks opened Championship weekend against the Waterloo Warriors. Opening up an early lead, Alanna Hentges singled and was scored off a line shot from Kristen Van Den Neucker. Amy Campagnolo then belted a home-run to left field which would prove to be the game-winning run as the Hawks downed the Warriors 2-1 to open the round robin competition.
Under chilly and misty rain on Saturday morning, the Golden Hawks faced off with the seventh place Brock Badgers, a team that gave them a big challenge just two weeks before. The Badgers’ pitcher kept the Hawks offence off-kilter for two innings with seven straight pop fly outs and broke the deadlock in the third inning for the 1-0 lead. It didn’t take long for the bats to come alive as the Hawks answered in the bottom half with six runs, batting through the order to open the six run lead. Four more were added in the fourth inning as the Hawks mercied the Badgers 9-2 with Rachel Warmington getting the win on the rubber for Laurier.
It was the matchup the Hawks were expecting heading into the final round robin game against the third place Windsor Lancers with the winner taking first place in pool B and advancing into Sunday afternoon’s semi-finals. Laurier got ahead early and never looked back, scoring three runs in the second inning. Van Den Neucker singled to lead off, followed by a single from third year Marissa Woodburn. The bottom of the order was clutch for Laurier as Campagnolo and Emma Scanlon both doubled back to back to give the pivotal early lead. Windsor would claw back in the fifth, however Rachel Warmington had a seeing eye double that would score Nicole Gagnier and Hentges to give the Hawks the three run lead again. Woodburn then added to the lead when she opened the bottom of the sixth with a home run to dead-centre field as the Hawks took their third win and secured first place in pool B with a 6-2 win and 3-0 record.
Waiting to face the winner of the Ottawa Gee Gees and the Windsor Lancers, the Hawks would eventually have a rematch of Saturday evening's contest with the Lancers as they prevailed in a thrilling 10 inning affair with the Gee Gees. For the second straight game, Laurier opened up an early lead and never looked back. Three runs in the bottom of the first would be all the Hawks needed in a 3-1 victory. A walk from Gagnier followed by four straight hits from Warmington, Van Den Neucker, Alicia Helmond, and Woodburn was enough to put the Lancers away. Campagnolo was lights out again against the Lancers, allowing only one run in the top of the seventh before the Hawks defence shut down any hopes of a rally with a picture perfect relay from Lyndsey Allingham to finish off the game. With that win, the Golden Hawks advanced to their first championship game since winning in 2007 in London against the very same Western Mustangs.
Sunday's Championship game was a battle of the top two seeds in regular season play and the two undefeated teams over the weekend.
It was going to take everything Laurier had to take down the undefeated and four-time defending champions from Western but they proved to be too strong for the young Laurier squad. Three runs in the top of the first, the Mustangs kept plugging away and eventually took down the Golden Hawks 7-0, giving Laurier the silver medal. This is Laurier’s third Ontario medal, being added to two National Championship medals as well in the programs 11 year history.
“We gave the girls the challenge of getting better every game over the Championship weekend and they did just that. Every game we ramped up our intensity just a little bit more and that was a huge part of our success,” said Head Coach MATT ALLEN.
“I am so proud of this group of girls. They fought hard all season long and deserved to come away with this silver medal. I know it is something they will look back on and think of how hard they worked for this, particularly our four graduating athletes who have played four years and had no medal to show for it. I am particularly proud of them and their accomplishments to this program” added Allen.
Amy Campagnolo was named best pitcher of the tournament, with a 3-1 record, giving up just four runs in her three wins.
The Golden Hawks will now qualify for the 2015 Canadian Collegiate National Championships, host sill yet to be determined.
For information on Laurier Softball, please contact email@example.com