Sutherland and Cumberland Nepean have taken out the women’s and men’s Over-35 State Championships respectively in two hard-fought finals.
After the Saturday of the three-day tournament was washed out, the tournament schedule was compressed with Sutherland and Cumberland Nepean playing off in the women’s final, while Southern Districts and Cumberland Nepean played off for the men’s title.
In cold conditions, Sutherland played Cumberland Nepean in the women’s final. Both sides went into the match undefeated and it was a titanic struggle as both sides battled to get on base in the face of strong pitching from Sutherland’s Zara Masters and Cumberland Nepean’s Lyneene Orsini.
With only three hits to Cumberland Nepean and four to Sutherland leading into the bottom of the sixth inning with time running out, Sutherland hit three runs in what turned out to be the final innings to claim the State Championship for the second straight season.
In her second Over-35s tournament, former Australian pitcher Zara Masters said it was a fun tournament, getting to play with and against so many great players.
“It feels pretty good, it’s our second time now – two in a row,” she said. “We had some tough competition and it was a big struggle to get to the final.”
“It was a really good game. I had a few hard hits at me but I managed to get those. Our batting team is just amazing. I can’t praise them enough. As soon as we got one, I think we had loaded bases a couple of times. I didn’t think I could pitch much more, I have blisters on my fingers, bruises on my hand – I was kind of glad. But I really wanted to get out there and pitch the last innings but, oh well, it was time.”
The final was a star-studded match with Sutherland featuring Masters and former NSW player and Charmaine Johns and junior NSW player Colleen Minehan, while Cumberland Nepean included Olympian Fiona Crawford, former NSW reps Angela Catford, Lyneene Orsini and Nicole Gibson and former NSW junior reps Kylie Buckley and Lisa Mikkelsen.
“The calibre of players we played against was just amazing,” Masters said. “We’ve played with and against each other when we were in our prime. But it’s so good to have that calibre of competition at this age group.”
The men’s final was just as tense with Cumberland Nepean defeating defending champions Southern Districts 2-1.
The teams stayed scoreless until the top of the sixth innings when Cumberland Nepean hit two runs to break the deadlock.
Scoreless until the seventh inning, a home run gave Southern Districts a sniff but Cumberland Nepean pitcher Demetrius Doney held his nerve for Cumberland to win its first Over-35 men’s title since 2013.
Doney said it was a good feeling to take out the State Championship.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve take out gold,” he said. “A couple of years ago I won playing for another association so it feels good to on the field again being a winner.”
Doney was a former state player in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He said these tournaments were great for catching up with old mates.
“It’s good to be playing a high level against a good bunch of mates as well. The guy who pitched against us was one of my teammates back in 2008. It was really good to be part of this again. I’ve been playing since I was 10 – I’m over 40 now – even the guys from Newcastle, I’ve played against since I was 15. Catching up with them for a couple of beers and some Softball in between is really enjoyable.”