The final regular season games in VSBL Women's Division 1, 2 and 3 are complete as Springvale won against fellow top two contender Doncaster to cement first place in Women's Division 1. Doncaster finished strong to stay in first place in Women's Division 2 while Melbourne ended the year on top in Women's Division 3 East. With just one loss on the season, Bonbeach Blue is the top team in Women's Division 3 South while Sunshine finished six wins ahead of second place Fitzroy in Women's Division 3 West. The first round of finals across all three divisions is set for Saturday, 29 February.
Footscray gave it a good shot but Essendon prevailed to finish the regular season on a high note.
The opening inning produced runs from both sides as the Bulldogs got the bats swinging, first with two at the top which was beaten out by the Bombers at the bottom who scored three.
The next series of runs went the way of the Bombers too, finishing the second inning with a three-run lead. Footscray got those two runs back at the top of the fourth as it became a one-run ballgame once more.
Essendon was ahead 5-4 going into the fifth, but the Bombers stayed strong on defense for the remainder of the game, not allowing the Bulldogs to score in the next three digs while extending their lead by one.
Footscray's Morgan Doty pitched two innings, giving up three hits and five runs - four of them earned - with three walks and two strikeouts. Brittney Cedelland pitched four innings, ending her time on the mound with three hits, one unearned run and six strikeouts.
Doty was great on offence, enjoying a 3-for-3 day that included a triple and two singles with an RBI and two runs scored. Holly Howard had a double and a single for an RBI while Amanda Napier knocked in two runners on a big hit. Megan Kelly and Cedelland both scored a run after getting on base with singles.
Next up for these two teams are the semi-finals where Footscray visits Springvale and third-place Essendon brings a 8-9-2 record into a battle with Doncaster.
It was a tight game between the top two teams and it lived up to expectations with a first place finish on the line.
While Doncaster and Springvale were both safe inside the the top two, there was still the possibility of the Dragons snatching first place.It wasn't to be as the Lions showed their composure to beat the Dragons by three runs, finishing the season with a 14-3-2 record while for the Dragons, they ended the regular season at 12-4-3.
Jessica Johnston pitched six innings for the Dragons, giving up 12 hits and six runs for the loss. She was backed up by nine hits off of Doncaster's bats. Maddi Weller went 2-for-3 with an RBI while Sam Hamilton had two hits and scored a run. Erin Collins and Ursula Howard both had one hit, one run games as Vanessa Clifford, Bec White and Amy McCann contributed singles.
Now focused on finals, these two sides will meet again on Saturday at Springvale for a big game, with the winner securing a spot in the Grand Final.
The first inning saw both Wheelers Hill and Springvale drive in a couple of runs, that 2-2 scoreline staying the same until the fifth inning when the Warriors got ahead by one.
That lead didn't last long as at the bottom of the inning, the Lions rallied well to record seven runs and put the game beyond the Warriors, who couldn't put up any more runs in the sixth as they needed to play catch up.
These two sides have both made semi-finals, with Springvale playing Doncaster after finishing the season in second place with a 12-2 record while Wheelers Hill sits third with a 8-7 record and hosts Footscray at home.
The Dragons proved their still a force to be reckoned with in VSBL Women's Division 2 with a commanding win over Fitzroy.
This win allowed first-place Doncaster to wrap up the regular season with a 14-1 record. Doncaster coach Andrew Weller says that after locking in top spot on the ladder last week, the team was thinking about finals going into this meeting with Fitzroy. "Offensively our game plan was pretty simple, be aggressive with our bats and run the bases hard," Weller said. "We did this really well, scoring 19 runs off the back of 16 hits and 13 stolen bases."
Maddi Davis, Hannah Sowden, Chelsea Stewart, Keeley Harrison and Shelley Love all had multiple hits for Doncaster on the day, and contributions from these players will be important moving forward as well. "Defensively we used three pitchers who all threw really well - Erin Collins, Chelsea Stewart and Becky Petty with Jess Thompson behind the dish," Weller said. "Special mention to Chelsea who came on late and dominated with, strikeout, strikeout, walk and then a strikeout to shut down the hitters quickly."
Weller and the Dragons are ready for what comes next. "I am very proud of what this young team has been able to achieve this season throughout the home and away games," Weller added. "We have achieved our first goal which is to play finals. We now have to re-set and our next goal is to win a final which will put us into the Grand Final."
Everyone on the team is pumped for finals and eager to finish the season in strong fashion. "This will be an exciting couple of weeks to see how these young Dragons respond to finals pressure. Springvale, Wheelers Hill and Footscray have some quality players and we will all be trying to do the same thing, which is make the Grand Final. I can’t wait to see it all play out."
Doncaster's one and only loss came three weeks ago but the Dragons have proved they can bounce back quickly and they will be looking to continue their winning ways in a semi-final against Springvale.
Fitzroy's season ends in fifth place with a 2-12-1 record, with plenty of things to be proud of and the potential to improve on for next season.
Footscray had the edge in this matchup, overpowering Essendon as the Bombers finished in sixth place with a 2-13 record.
Footscray will carry a fourth place 5-8-1 record into the finals as the Bulldogs head to Wheelers Hill for a big matchup, the winner of which will move forward to the preliminary final.
The Rebels got off to the start they wanted against a quality Springvale side, scoring two runs at the top of the first.
However, the Lions settled down and kept composed in the box, scoring the next 17 runs of the game across the following three innings, highlighted by seven coming in in the first and third. A Springvale lineup featuring Liesel Bouker, Rachael Bouker, Debbie Bryant and Breanna Cavanagh proved unstoppable.
The Rebels brought in two more at the top of the fourth but another big inning by the Lions put the game further away as there were another six runners scoring.
Springvale ends the regular season in fourth place with a 5-8 record and will take on Doncaster in a semi-final this weekend. Mulgrave finished in fifth place with a 1-10 record but solid contributions and improvements throughout the team.
Two top four teams battled it out, with Moorabbin racking up the runs. Caitlin Bann, Janelle Campbell and Ruby Dale were among the big contributors in the game as the Panthers improved their runs for and against totals to 168 and 73.
Moorabbin finished in second place at 10-3 while Melbourne had a bye but finished 10-2. Now these two sides play each other in an exciting semi-final matchup with both teams hungry to advance.
Melbourne's spot at the top was safe despite the bye this week, ending the season with a 10-2 record. Melbourne has scored 167 runs this season while giving up 68, which are impressive figures that set up a massive semi-final game with Moorabbin.
Melbourne hosts the semi-final and will look to go further in the finals, with the Demons chasing their second straight flag.
Berwick got off to a good start, leading 5-0 after one complete inning before adding two more in each of the second and third.
The Cougars managed to shut the Pumas out for the first four innings before Pakenham Black knuckled down at the top of the fifth and scored seven. Berwick shut the scoring drive down eventually to keep a two-run lead for the end of the game.
The Cougars are in fourth place with a 7-6 record as they get ready to face Sandringham in the semi-finals. For Pakenham Black, the Pumas have stayed strong and given this season their best shot, and they will look to improve for the next year.
The top two sides battled it out but it was a one-way result in favour of the top-placed Bonbeach Blue.
The game started with seven runs at the top of the first to Bonbeach Blue and the score was 10-1 after two.
Cheltenham scored their next two at the bottom of the third but Bonbeach Blue had another big inning to score five.
Bonbeach Blue finished the regular season in first place with a 12-1 record, that only loss coming at the hands of the Rustlers in the third round. Making finals for the first time since the 1990s is a big deal for the Lady Jays, and they will host Cheltenham in this weekend's semi-final.
Cheltenham's 11-3 record puts the Rustlers in second place as they strive for final glory.
Pakenham White's forfeit brought an end to the season for these two sides where neither team will be progressing to the finals.
Pakenham White finished in fifth with a 5-7 record after starting the season 2-0 while Bonbeach White finished sixth with a 3-10 record.
Sandringham had the bye but were always going to be safe in third during the round, with the Royals taking a 8-5 regular season record into a semi-final home game v Berwick, a team they beat twice before.
The first inning produced four runs for both sides before the Lions blitzed away further with five runs in te second and three in the third.
Baycats Blue mounted a small comeback through the fourth and fifth, scoring a combined four runs including three in the fourth but Fitzroy kept going, the game ending in the fifth but not before the Lions put another two onto their score.
Fitzroy finished second with a 6-5-1 record, a huge moment as it marks the first time Fitzroy's women's program has been in the finals since the winter women's league of the 1990s.
Fitzroy plays Sunshine in the semi-finals while third place Geelong Blue takes a 7-6-1 record into a home semi-final v the Titans.
The Baycats were still in the game after two innings, down by two as they matched the Titans first-inning score of seven in their half of the second inning, although North Western had brought two more home in the top.
The Titans scored the next eight runs of the game including another seven-run dig in the fourth, all the while shutting out the Baycats.
For the Baycats,, it brings an end to their season, finishing with a 0-13-1 record, the drawn result coming against the Titans in round two. The Titans finished with a 6-6-1 record, entering the first week of finals with a semi-final agaisnt Geelong Baycats Blue.
Sunshine was so far in front that the bye in the final round made no difference. The Eagles ended the season with a stellar 12-1 record, six wins ahead of second place Fitzroy.
Fitzroy actually handed the Eagles their only loss of the season back in round four as they rode a 10-game win streak to wrap up the regular season. Sunshine will look to carry that momentum in the semi-final at home v Fitzroy.