T-Birds to challenge for AII softball title

Title: T-Birds to challenge for AII softball title
Date: April 30, 2013
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: This was a preview of the AII conference regional tournament that the UBC women’s softball team played in.

VANCOUVER – At the start of the season, head coach Phil Thom made it clear that the goal for this year’s UBC Thunderbirds team was to make Regionals.

FULL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (PDF file)

With a 23-19 record, the best in the program’s four-year history, the Thunderbirds have done just that, securing the No. 3 seed in the AII Conference Championship Tournament. The tournament takes place from Wednesday, May 1 to Friday, May 3 and is a double-elimination format.

UBC has drawn host team University of Houston-Victoria in the first round. UHV earned the second seed thanks to a 26-20 record in their regular season. With their records very close together, the Thunderbirds are at a slight disadvantage heading to Victoria, where UHV was 13-6 during the season. The teams did not meet up in the regular season or in exhibition play.

UBC was led in the regular season by Cassandra Dypchey (Surrey, BC), Nicole Day (Surrey, BC) and Alana Westerhof (Delta, BC). The team will be looking to the trio of veterans to continue to provide leadership on the field.

Dypchey led the team with an impressive .435 batting average, adding a team-high eight home runs and runs batted in as well. Westerhof edged her RBI total with 40, also hitting seven home runs and batting .346. Between the two was Carlyn Shimizu (Richmond, BC), who hit .364 and struck out just eight times in 41 games.

Westerhof also chipped in on the mound, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.97 earned run average and nearly a strikeout per inning. Day was a bit unlucky at 6-7 but had a sterling 2.67 ERA and seven complete games.

Leigh Della Siega (White Rock, BC) could be the one tapped to start the ever important first game, though, as her 15 starts led the Thunderbirds. She posted an excellent 3.13 ERA and whiffed 100 batters in her 85 innings. If she can avoid surrendering the free pass, she’s one of the best pitchers in the conference.

The pitchers will have to be on their game in the opener, as UHV sported a .360 batting average as a team, good for 13th in the NAIA. They were strong enough that they narrowly missed the top-25 in the most recent NAIA poll. UBC was also a near-miss but received fewer votes.

After the opening game, where UBC heads gets a bit unclear. If they were to lose, they’d play the lost of a play-in game to start the consolation round. If they can beat UHV, though, they’re likely to face California State University at San Marcos, the top seed in the tournament and the No. 4 team on the NAIA top-25. Back on March 16, UBC lost a hard fought 1-0 battle to CSUSM, and they’re likely to be champing at the bit for a rematch.

The top two teams from the tournament advance to the NAIA Nationals Open Rounds Tournament on May 13-15. The winning team will need to win three, and possibly four games to win the tournament, and one fewer to move on to Nationals.

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