Durham Lords softball team wins 18th OCAA championship

Photo provided by Dr. Joshua Nelson

Jim Nemish stands in front of various softball memorabilia.

Jim Nemish, head coach of the Durham Lords women’s softball team, has a philosophy about winning.

“When you’re winning, it’s contagious, and a winning program will attract the good athletes and because we’ve been very successful…we’ve been able to bring top athletes to our program,” he said.

Nemish should know. Durham just completed its season with a bang, defeating the St. Clair Saints, 11-6 in the gold medal game to win its 18th OCAA (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) championship. The victory marks the 18th gold medal Nemish has led the Lords to in his 28 seasons as head coach. (is this accurate?…I’m not convinced.)

With their season on the line, the Lords won seven of their final eight regular season games, qualifying them for the championship after being in fifth place and out of a playoff position.

The Lords then swept the playoffs beating St. Clair 8-4, Fanshawe 10-3, and St. Clair again in the final game.

Going into the season it looked unlikely that Durham would pull off a second straight championship.

Coach Nemish had some concerns with the number of rookies on the team.

“We did have a big turnover, we had close to nine freshmen this year, so our expectations as always were to compete and win a gold medal…but my biggest concern was how long it was going to take for the freshmen coming in to gel with the returnees and get used to playing at the college level,” said Nemish.

With the Lords in fifth place going into the final week of regular season play, coach Nemish knew he had to motivate his team.

“Well, we had a little team talk, we weren’t playing our best ball, we were making unforced errors at the wrong time, we weren’t hitting the ball, everybody just had to start believing in themselves,” said Nemish.

Durham not only saw new faces this year, but some old as well.

Caleigh Coels, the Lords centre-fielder, was adamant about joining the team again after taking a year off. She was a key part in the Lords’ championship win as she went 4-for-4 at the plate, scoring a run.

“I was watching Lords the whole time (while away) basically, I really missed them, then I ended up calling Jim back and asked if I could try out again…I just came back and I was all ready for every practice, I was excited, ready to play games, represent Durham and play with the girls again,” said Coels.

Ashley Black was the Lords best pitcher in the finals, preventing the Saints from forming any type of offence in the first four innings and was named one of the championship all-stars. She also took a year off, missing last year’s championship, which motivated her to win this year.

“I wanted to win OCAAs because (in) my first two years we were alright, but witnessing the team last year win OCAA, I wanted a medal,” said Black.


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Joshua Nelson is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. He enjoys writing about sports and campus issues. His work can also be seen on Riot Radio at Durham College. Josh likes to read and write. He hopes to get into some form of journalism.