The Humber Hawks Women's Softball Team fell short in their bid for a third consecutive OCAA Championship on Friday afternoon, despite a couple of the best pitching performances of the year from Amanda van de Graaf.
The Hawks opened the tournament against the host St. Clair Saints, the provinces highest scoring team. Van de Graaf, the Hawks only option after fellow starter Jesse Ulens' injury, was lights out from the get go. She would face rare trouble in the bottom of the games first inning, but escaped a bases loaded jam unharmed when shortstop Bonnie Gillingham made a great catch on a sharp liner.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third, when the heart of the Saints order was able to do some damage. After a pair of doubles left clean-up hitter Alexa Georgiou up to bat with two runners in scoring position, she cashed in the games first run on a pop fly to right field that was nearly caught by OCAA All-Star Elisa Gregoris; the run would prove crucial.
While van de Graaf continued to keep the St. Clair bats silent, the Hawks struggled to piece anything together offensively. In the top of the fifth, Humber put runners on the corners after a base knock from Terah Camilleri, but unfortunately were unable to get the run across. The bats would remain quiet for the last couple innings, and the final score read 1-0; Amanda was named player of the game for her incredible performance on the mound, and would continue her dominance all afternoon.
Game two saw the Hawks facing the Conestoga Condors, whom Humber had beaten in two of three meetings during the regular season. Van de Graaf would again take the mound, and looked brilliant throughout the game.
The Hawks opened the scoring in the top of the fourth – Jaime Vieira got the inning started with a base knock, and promptly stole second base. Outfielder Aaliyah Davidson knocked her in on a liner to the gap, and Humber had their first lead of the day.
It was short-lived, as the Condors responded in the bottom of the inning. After Jessie Turnbull reached first, Amanda Rose connected for a two-run homer that gave Conestoga the lead right back.
The Hawks refused to go silently; in the top of the six, the blue and gold crossed home plate thanks to some clutch hitting. With two out, catcher Terah Camilleri doubled to the gap and was replaced by pinch runner Natalie Stoberman. Stoberman reached third thanks to some heady base running on a passed ball, and scored when Kaitlyn Pitek drove a ball to the outfield to knot the game at two.
After a scoreless seventh, the game headed to extra's with a birth in next year's national championship on the line. The top of the eighth saw Jaime Vieira and Jess Crudo in scoring position with none out, but the Hawks failed to capitalize. The near miss would prove costly; Conestoga came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the game still tied, and with a runner on second Stephanie Barril cashed the winning run on a liner to centre. Terah Camilleri was named player of the game afterwards.
Though the result was disappointing, the Hawks have much to be proud of. The squad nearly medalled at Nationals last weekend, and it is a young team chalk full of freshmen players; this is certainly a program on the rise. While the season didn't end as they would have wished, anyone who watched them play knows that nothing was left on the field.