By Sports Staff
The Ryerson women’s fastpitch team entered Friday night with a playoff spot already clinched, on their way to splitting a double-header with the Guelph Gryphons.
Game 1 at Hendon Park ended in a 5-2 victory, headlined by catcher Olivia Stelmachowicz hitting an inside-the-park two-run home run, that ultimately decided the game. First base Hayley Graham also contributed by batting 1-1 with two walks and an RBI to her name.
Pitcher Samantha Jackson batted 2-3, all while picking up the win on the back of a three-strikeout, two-earned run performance over six innings. Emma Carr also cashed in with an RBI on a relatively off night, after being named Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association (OIWFA) Week 4 Athlete of the Week, the first Ram to do so.
Game 2 didn’t fare as well for the Rams, as Ryerson scored two runs on just four hits total while giving up 10 hits to their opponents. One notable positive to draw from the 4-2 loss is that they committed no errors during a rock solid defensive effort. The Gryphons were simply finding the gaps in the outfield on good contact, and the game was put to bed on the heels of a bases loaded clearing double.
“We told the girls we played a great game [in Game 2], the ball just wasn’t falling our way. We know we are in trouble if the girls are striking out, but that was not the case,” said Rams head coach Wayne Nishihama. “We were playing stellar defence, we were making solid contact, and that is all that we can ask for. Sometimes it just doesn’t go our way, and that’s ball.”
The Rams’ never-say-die attitude is invigorating to watch. But spectators aren’t the only ones noticing, with Ryerson turning heads all around the league in what is only the beginning.
“I feel like all of us are ready, we have settled in now,” said Carr. “This is our last weekend before playoffs start and we are going to just go out there and play the game the way we know how to play.”
The “way” Carr references to, is to play with heart, grit and unmitigated willpower, all of the ingredients required to make a lasting impression.
“She’s the catalyst for our team, as the lead off hitter it all starts with her,” said Nishihama. “She leads by example, and her performance on the field has the girls look up to her.”
Emma put up gaudy numbers en route to her well deserved recognition last week, slashing 10 hits, good for a .625 batting average over six games. Following seven RBI and 10 runs, her stellar play paid dividends, as the Rams qualified for postseason ball this year in only their second year of competition.
“Our goal was to make the playoffs, all of them are committed and skilled,” says Nishihama. “We do not want to be here for one year, we want to be here regularly, and this group is determined to prove that.”
The Rams have an off day Saturday, an opportunity to watch as every other team faces off. At day’s end they will know what their fate will be as playoff seeding solidifies.
Up Next: The split brings the Rams’ OIWFA record to 10-8 on the year, and they wrap up the season Sunday afternoon against the University of Toronto in a double-header at Dieppe Park.