courtesy Kevin Lee

Fastball playoffs head into full swing

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As most university teams begin their season, there is one team about to start playoffs. The University of Calgary women’s fastball team played their final regular season game on Sept. 25 and start the Western Collegiate Softball Association championships this weekend.

The fastball team is now in its 10th year and looks to build on the tremendous success of last year. The Dinos finished the 2012 season with a bronze in the Alberta Intercollegiate Women’s Fastball playoffs, earning a spot in the national championship tournament. The Dinos went on to put together an incredible streak that took them all the way to the national championship game against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs. 

Though the Dinos managed to be the only team to push the Mustangs to a full seven-inning game, the Dinos lost 6–0 and earned a silver medal.

Head coach Randy Plishka said the team finished strongly last year. 

“We had a little bit of a disappointment in our league playoffs, SAIT kicked us down to third place, but we caught fire at nationals,” said Plishka. “We won two very close games in the quarters and semis and ended up in the national finals.” 

This season, the league is once again filled with stiff competition. The two-time defending champions, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, are perennial favourites to take the western division crown. The vastly improved SAIT Trojans and the University of Regina Rams also look to challenge for a spot in the WCSA finals.

It has been an up and down season for the Dinos so far. It started off with a bang on opening weekend — Calgary hosted six games and came away with a solid 4–2 record. 

The opening games of the season were particularly special for rookie Taylor Mennie. 

“Our opening weekend was really awesome and it was great to feel a part of the team so quick. We beat U of S and ended their two-year winning streak, which was a great feeling,” said Mennie.

However, the team’s first road trip of the year did not go as well as they hoped. After three games in Regina, the Dinos failed to win and headed back to Calgary with two losses and a tie. Upon returning home, two consecutive losses to SAIT left the team winless in a five-game stretch. 

A strong, two-win showing against Lethbridge on Sept. 22 has gotten U of C back to the .500 mark for the season.

The WCSA playoffs this weekend will be held in Coaldale, AB with the top-two teams guaranteed a spot in the national tournament taking place Thanksgiving weekend in Regina. As a result of the team being a finalist in last year’s championship, the Dinos have already secured their spot in Regina. Because of this, staying focused on the regional playoffs could prove difficult for the Dinos this season. 

“It would be nice to be there because we won. We’re a good team and with our work ethic we definitely deserve a shot at top spot in the west,” said Mennie.

One thing the Dinos will be sure to remember as they head into playoffs is that they have beaten every team in the league this year. 

“That’s exactly what we need to focus on. We’ve beaten everybody, but they’ve beaten us too. It’s a crapshoot if we come to play and play our best. Hopefully it falls in place for us,” said Plishka.

The Dinos will enter the playoffs with plenty of confidence hoping to replicate their past performances against every team in the WCSA. 

“We’ve beat all the teams before. Just playing our game is going to be the most important thing,” said Mennie.

Despite their past success, coach Plishka mentioned that the Dinos will have to eliminate errors in order to challenge for a medal again this year.

“Right now we have to cut down on errors — that’s what has been hurting us this season. It’s the mental errors, the dropped balls we know we should have that we need to cut down on,” said Plishka. 

As the Dinos fastball team begins their playoff march Sept. 29 in Coaldale, AB, the club has a chance to correct their errors and will look to use the WCSA playoffs to fine-tune their game for the national championships in October. In addition to this, the Dinos can earn a spot in the 2013 national championships if they finish in one of the top-two spots.

The 2012 national championships begin on Oct. 6 in Regina with a double header against the Humber College Hawks and the U of S Huskies.