St. Mary Clinches Seventh Slo-Pitch Title

St. Mary Clinches Seventh Slo-Pitch Title in Eight Years
Posted on 05/23/2024
Slo-PitchSt. Mary Clinches Seventh Slo-Pitch Title in Eight Years

By Larry Moko

The St. Mary Crusaders executed a game-ending double play to capture the 2024 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic girls’ high school slo-pitch championship Tuesday.

Trailing 9-8 in the bottom half of the seventh and final inning, the St. Thomas More Knights loaded the bases with one out. At that point, Jen DeMedeiros stepped up to the plate and smashed a line drive that was caught for an out by shortstop Jade McNicol.  She then fired the ball over to third baseman Hannah Meadows who tagged the runner trying to retreat to third.

Game over. The defensive gem ended first-place More’s scoring threat and gave St. Mary its seventh league title in the past eight years.
Both teams advance to the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference semifinals on May 30.

“Our shortstop that ended the game (McNicol) was our starting pitcher,” Crusaders coach Charley Giudice explained. “Our starting shortstop had to leave for work part way through the game. Jade did a fantastic job in her place.”

Said McNicol: “I was nervous going in because I hadn’t played shortstop all day. I was kind of scared that I was going to miss the throw. But I just went for it.”

The St. Mary coach said he was “worried” when he saw McNicol initially look towards second base after making the grab.

“Originally, I was going to throw to second,” McNicol said. “Then I heard Hannah call me. She was making the right play, telling me what to do. A shoutout to her for doing that.”

The Crusaders fell behind 5-0 in the first inning. And after five, they still faced an 8-4 deficit. Five sixth-inning runs, however, proved to be the difference for second-place St. Mary.

“When we got behind 5-0 I was a little disappointed in myself,” McNicol said. “But I realized it was OK and that I had the whole team behind me. We didn’t get down on ourselves. We pushed through and ended up winning by one.”

More came in as defending champion. And in round-robin tournament play over two days recently, the Knights were 6-0.
“When it was 8-4 today, they capitalized,” More coach Anna Fortino said, “and we couldn’t cash in.”

At the plate, McNicol knocked in three runs with a sacrifice fly and a two-run single. Teammate Rylie Griffiths also belted a single and a two-run triple to the fence in left.

The Knights also stranded three runners on base in the sixth inning when a hard-hit ball to the outfield was caught. Said Giudice: “Kendra (Restauri), our rover, came running in really hard and was able to scoop it before it hit the ground.”

According to Giudice, it may have worked to his team's advantage that the St. Mary pitching switch was made.

“(More) was getting a different look and they weren’t hitting the ball the same off the second pitcher,” he said. “That made a huge difference. That’s what maybe got us over the hump.”

The veteran Crusaders coach also said the batting “came through in spades” for his team down the stretch. “The bottom of the order had to get on base for us to keep that (sixth) inning alive. And it did.”

Other St. Mary players include Sadie Noonan, Jessica Gould, Taylor Klyne, Jess Taylor, Nicole Lester, Mallory Novisedlak, Olivia Hirlehey, Chloe Pender, Francesca Boffa, Meara Quinlan, Madisyn Pozdrowski, Mila Paithouski and Josie Bucci.
In earlier semifinal action Tuesday in Ancaster, St. Mary advanced with a 14-4 decision over the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals and More topped the St. Jean de Brébeuf Braves, 9-3.

The More roster is also comprised of Sienna Bardy, Dakoda Berztiss, Jada Dufour, Ava Dumond, Emily Dunn, Juliana Jakubowski, Maeve Labenski, Kionna McCrory, Amy Scott, Macie Sheldrake and Kennedy Sundvall.

Hamilton’s Turner Park will be the venue for this year’s 16-team OFSAA slo-pitch festival (June 10-11). The Crusaders have gained automatic host entry and the banquet will be held at St. Mary.

“We’re excited about hosting,” Giudice said. “We get to be the first team from our board ever to go to OFSAA. We are guaranteed a spot. It will be us and one other school from GHAC.”

St. Thomas More lost to Burlington Nelson at GHAC last year.

At the GHAC semifinals, St. Mary will take on a Halton Catholic representative while St. Thomas More faces the Hayden Huskies.

Photos by Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

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