HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: Maybe the University of Ottawa women’s softball team is in line for a promotion.
For the past 20 years, the Gee-Gees players have represented their university in the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association as a competitive club team and not as one of the higher-ranked varsity sports.
Club teams, and there are 19 of them on campus, receive some funding from the athletic department to compliment their own significant fund raising, but the bulk of the bucks go to men’s and women’s basketball, cross-country running, hockey, swimming, and track and field as well as football, and women’s rugby and volleyball.
And for the past two decades, the Gee-Gees women’s softball team has been one of the most successful competitive club or varsity teams, which they proved again this past weekend.
For the ninth time in 20 years, the Gee-Gees completed the OIWFA championship weekend with a medal.
In a rematch of the last OIWFA final (there was no championship in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic), University of Western Mustangs overwhelmed the Gee-Gees 12-2 in a run-rule four innings. It was the 11th consecutive time the Mustangs had emerged as provincial women’s softball champions.
The silver medal gave the Gee-Gees six in total (2021, 2019, 2013, 2012, 2008 and 2005) to go with one gold (2003) and two bronze (2017 and 2007).
The Gee-Gees opened and closed the championship with a loss, but in between they scored three critical wins over two days in two different cities.
At the four-team East Regional tournament in Napanee on Saturday, the Gee-Gees dropped their opening game to regular-season, pennant-winning University of Toronto Varsity Blues 4-1. But the Gee-Gees rebounded to edge Queen’s University Gaels 5-4 and advanced to the East final against the Varsity Blues.
The Gee-Gees turned back Toronto 4-2 to win the regional tournament as both teams qualified for the OIWFA championship on Sunday in Brampton.
In the championship semifinals, the Gee-Gees downed Brock University Badgers 10-3, while Western defeated Toronto 3-0. Brock shut out Toronto 3-0 in the bronze-medal game.
When the OIWFA announced its 2021 regular-season award winners, three Gee-Gees were honoured for their 9-2, second-place campaign.
Shortstop Arianne Levesque of Saint-Remi-de-Tingwick, Que., was named the East Division’s top hitter. She posted a batting average of .567 and was named athlete of the week for Oct. 16-17. Her other stats were equally impressive: .618 on-base percentage, 1.167 slugging percentage, four home runs, 13 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
Pitcher Jordanna Hartley of Newmarket, ON., and Katrina Guenter of Kingston were named OIWFA all-stars in the awards announcement. Hartley also was co-athlete of the week with Toronto pitcher Katie Humhej of Surrey, B.C., for Sept. 18-19.
The all-star list also included Madeline McGilveary and Aleigha Cheung of the Carleton University Ravens.
IMAN SHAHEEN WINS JUNIOR MEDAL, GAINS SENIOR EXPERIENCE
Ottawa teenager Iman Shaheen performed double duty during two different Canadian squash championships last week in Toronto, but she emerged with a junior silver medal and more senior women’s experience.
After a bye in the opening round, Shaheen, 16, won two playoff matches before being defeated 12-10, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7 by Molly Chadwick of Toronto in the national junior closed girls’ U19 final. Chadwick’s win gave her four different Canadian junior closed titles – U17 in 2019, U15 in 2018, and U13 in 2016.
The left-handed Shaheen reached the final turning back Jana Dweek of Calgary 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 in the semifinals, and Alex Brown of Victoria 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 in the quarterfinals.
Gatineau’s Romain Salmon lost 11-4, 11-1, 11-7 to Amin Khan of Windsor in the first round of the boys’ junior U19 draw.
Shaheen, a member of Canada’s national junior team, also played in the Canadian women’s open championship, winning her opening match 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 over Leah McGillicuddy of Toronto. But she lost to Hollie Naughton of Oakville, ON., the top seed and the 17th-ranked player in the world, 11-2, 11-1, 11-7 in the second round.
Retired national team member Samantha Cornett of Dunrobin won her first two women’s senior matches without dropping a game, but was outlasted by third-seed Nicole Bunyan of Victoria 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9. Ottawa’s Catherine Giachino fell 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 to Giselle Delgado of Chile.
CANADA STANDS 4TH AT WORLD WHEELCHAIR CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Canada split its two matches Monday at the Kuntai world wheelchair curling championship in Beijing and is tied for fourth place with Scotland at 3-2 in the 12-team, round-robin competition.
After defeating Sweden 5-4, Canada lost 7-4 to Scotland, which picked up a pair of points in each of the third, fifth and seventh ends. Collinda Joseph of Ottawa is the alternate for the Canadian team, which is comprised of fourth John Thurston, third Ina Forrest, second Dennis Thiessen and skip Mark Ideson, who throws lead stones.
Joseph has won medals for Canada at the last two world championships: silver in 2020 as an alternate and bronze in 2019 as the team third.
HOMAN RINK CAN’T CLEAR QUARTER-FINAL HURDLE
Don’t mention the word ‘quarterfinals’ to the Rachel Homan curling rink.
That has been a wall they haven’t been able to crash through this season in three of four competitions. In their other competition, Homan’s rink needed a win to advance to the quarterfinals, but took a loss instead and were eliminated at the Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Curling Classic in Calgary.
Homan’s latest quarterfinal quandary was at last week’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters in Oakville, ON. After defeating Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton 6-5, eventual winner Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, MB., 6-5 and 2021 world bronze medallist Tabitha Peterson of St. Paul, Minnesota, 7-5, Homan automatically qualified for the final eight.
In the quarterfinals, Homan took a 2-0 lead after the second end, but had to play catch-up after Alina Kovaleva of Russia scored three in the third en route to a 5-3 victory.
Valérie Grenier of St-Isidore, ON., had an encouraging start to her World Cup women’s alpine ski season, placing seventh in the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. She was fifth after the first run. … Derek Gee of Osgoode, ON., Michael Foley, who was born in Ottawa, Ethan Ogrodniczuk and Jackson Kinniburgh placed ninth in the opening round of the men’s team pursuit at the world track cycling championships in Roubaix, France, missing the top-eight placement races by one spot.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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