The women’s softball team came away from this past weekend’s National Championships, hosted by Durham College with a fourth place result.
Starting round robin action Friday against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the Laurier squad was halted by a 401 closure and arrived just before game time. The Huskies took advantage of a cold squad barely able to warm-up with a 7-0 win. The Golden Hawks threatened early in the first inning with two runners in scoring position but that is as close as they would get. Huskies thrower Haley Volk shut the Laurier offense down and would scratch away runs of their own starting in the third right through to the seventh for the opening round loss for Laurier.
The Golden Hawks were right back at it in a double header, playing the 14-1 Regina Cougars. Laurier opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when Ellen Westlaken reached on an error. She was moved to second on a bunt by Kathryn Kennaley and Amelia Ballak then scored Westlaken for the lead. Another run was manufactured in the third on a series of bunts followed by a fielder’s choice by Westlaken for the 2-0 lead. The Hawks would add one more run in bottom of the sixth and Amy Campagnolo was lights out on the mound. She was only one out away, with two strikes on the batter in the bottom of the seventh from throwing a perfect game for the Golden Hawk in their first victory of the National Championships.
Laurier then had their fate in their own hands to move to the medal round in their last round robin game against the local Conestoga Condors. Two evenly matched teams fought it out in seven hard played innings with the Golden Hawks prevailing 3-2. Laurier scored two in the first inning however the Condors answered back with two of their own in the top of the second. Staying that way until the fourth inning with two out, Bobbi Sue Hentges reached base, was advanced on a single by Nicole Gagnier then Campagnolo helped her own cause with another single for the lead the Hawks would never look back on.
The win put Laurier second in their pool and would have them facing the Calgary Dinos in quarter final action. An odd game, with plenty of controversial calls on both sides of the diamond, the Golden Hawks found themselves in an offensive battle with the Dino’s. While the Hawks were up 7-1 early, Calgary came back and made it a 7-6 game at one point. However that was all for Calgary as Laurier pounded three runs in the sixth inning for the 10-6 win. Both Bobbi Sue Hentges and Gagnier had 2 RBIs apiece, Rachel Warmington was 3-4 with an RBI, Lyndsey Allingham 2-4 with ab RBI, and Amelia Ballak was the MVP of the game going 3-3 with 4RBIs for Laurier.
This now put the Laurier Golden Hawks in semi-final action against the Western Mustangs, a rematch of last year’s Ontario Championship. Scoreless in the third, the potent Mustangs offense took care of two Laurier mistakes and opened up a 4-0 lead. Laurier would answer back with one of their own in the bottom of the fourth but had a runner thrown out at home to end the threat. The Hawks threatened every inning after that but failed to score with runners in scoring position as the `Stangs got the best of the Hawks.
Laurier now faced a bronze medal game against the Saskatchewan Huskies. With the wind howling in the first inning, the Huskies had two bloop singles which opened an early 1-0 lead. They would add two more in the fourth inning to extend their lead to 3-0. Laurier wouldn`t get go as a pinch hit from Ballak scored Alanna Hentges and the Hawks were back in it, down 3-1. Down to their final three outs, Huskies shortstop made two highlight reel plays to steal the bronze medal away from the Hawks. Laurier left 11 runners on base and had a number of threats, however missed out on those opportunities with a clutch hit.
“Although it wasn’t the finish we set out at the beginning of the week, the fourth best softball program in the country is certainly nothing to be ashamed of,” said Laurier Head Coach MATT ALLEN.
The Golden Hawks will now re-group for this weekend’s Provincial Championships hosted by the Queen’s Gaels. Laurier finished second place in regular season play and will face the Carleton Ravens Friday night, Ottawa Gee-Gees Saturday morning, and Brock Badgers Saturday afternoon in round robin action.