Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Jan. 21


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Matt Luloff

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Tim Tierney

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'(Posted 8 a.m., Aug. 18)
Orleans Rebels capture bronze medal at Senior Women's National Championships
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The Orleans Rebels senior women's softball team went into their first ever Canadian Senior Women's Championship in Kitchener on the weekend hoping to at least contend for a medal.

They did just that and very nearly made it into the championship game if not for a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the defending champion Winnipeg Smitty's in the semi-final.

The Rebels, who bolstered their lineup a trio of players from other teams including starting pitcher Reagan Turner from St. Catherines, weren't expected to be much of factor in the tournament considering a majority of the players and under 23 and still qualify as juniors. They were also going up against teams whose lineups were sprinkled with national team members.

Obviously the Rebels didn't bothered to read the media guide. After starting off the round robin portion of the tournament with a 2-0 loss to the Whitby Eagles, the girls bounced back to beat the Calahoo Xtreme from Alberta 3-1 to even out their record at 1-1.

The next day they beat the Smitty's 3-2 in a thrilling game that saw the Rebels bend but not break in the sixth inning. Unfortunately, they ended losing their second game on Day 2, 3-0 to the host Kitchener Krush who would go on to win the tournament.

On Day 3 they managed to put together a pair of wins over Port Perry and the Calgary Ice to finish round robin play tied with four other teams at 4-2. The final positions were awarded based on run differential. After all the calculations were done, Orleans found themselves in fourth place.

Their first playoff game was against DBJ Leasing from Saskatoon. Win and they would be assured of at least a bronze medal. Lose and they would be sent down to the relegation bracket to face the Smitty's.

Their task was made all the more daunting by the fact that DBJ Leasing had 2008 Olympian Dione Meir on the mound. The Rebels countered with Turner. Both pitchers were outstanding in giving up just four hits each, but Nicole Shillington's two hits for the Rebels would prove to be the difference. The first allowed her to get on base in the fourth inning and eventual score the game's opening run on an RBI flyball by Jessica Scholey. The second drove in Erin Durant for an insurance marker in the sixth.

With the crucial win under their belts, the Rebels prepared to face Kitchener in the undefeated game on Sunday. The Krush, who were coming off a 3-0 win over Quebec the night before, drew inspiration from the hometown crowd and downed the Rebels 4-1, earning themselves a bye into the gold medal game.

Down but not yet out, Orleans still had a shot at earning a ticket to the championship game, but first they had to get by the Smitty's who defeated Whitby in a 2-1 come from behind win in the seventh inning to emerge from the lower bracket.

Hoping for a repeat of their round robin game against Winnipeg, the Rebels sent Turner to the mound, while the Smitty's hitched their chances on former national team member Ashley Lanz.

The game boiled down to an old-fashioned pitchers' duel as neither team was able to get on the scoreboard through the first six innings. Winnipeg finally put a run across with a pair of singles in the top of the seventh inning and then Lanz closed the deal in the bottom of the inning to seal the win.

Despite the disappointing loss, Rebels coach Scott Searle says the girls can hold their heads high for making it as far as they did against teams with considerable more experience.

"In our final three games we faced three current or former national team pitchers. I think we did an awesome job and hopefully next year we'll do even better," said Searle.

The team consisted of six University of Ottawa players including Jillian Taylor and Sarah Renaud, who along with Jenny Allen came up through the ranks with the Orleans Amateur Softball Association. The other Gee-Gees on the team are Emily Ernst, Elissa Sivel and Laura Gallant.

The remainder of the regular lineup comes from across the province: Amber O'Connor is from Pembroke, Hayley Fleming is from Kanata, Nicky Shillington and Kelsi Ball are from Kingston, Erin Durant is from Prescott, and Jessica Scholey lives in Mississauga. Another member of the team, Kristen Barber, is from the east end.

Reagan Turner (St. Catherines), Jenna Flannigan (Kanata) and Laura Skiperis (Guelph) were all added to the team for the Canadian Championships.

Team roster: Sarah Renaud, Jenny Allen, Erin Durant, Kristen Barber, Jillian Taylor, Emily Ernst, Nicky Shillington, Amber O'Connor, Reagan Turner, Jessica Scholey, Kelsi Ball, Hayley Fleming, Elissa Silva, Laura Gallant, Jenna Flannigan and Lauara Skiperis. Photo supplied

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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