Occasionals captain and top scorer Karen Devin.
Occasionals captain and top scorer Karen Devin. Rob Williams

Captain leads way in bid for back-to-back titles

AFTER batting unbeaten through an innings, Occasionals captain Karen Devin will miss Saturday's crunch match against Sports.

However, she's keen to return the following week to help the defending first division champions challenge for another title.

Devin top scored with 51 not out last Saturday as Occasionals beat Wildcats outright at the East Ipswich vigoro grounds.

The victory lifted Occasionals to 43 points, the same as Wildcats, with one round to play.

TC United regained top spot on 47 points after beating Sports outright in their latest game.

That has created a fascinating scenario for the final round of fixtures leading into the semi-final on March 18.

The top side after this weekend's games advances directly to the grand final on March 25.

The second and third placed teams contest a knockout semi-final.

Happy with her team's recent progress, Devin doesn't mind if Occasionals finish in second spot.

"I'm quite happy to actually play semis (rather than the week off),'' she said.

Occasionals last season came through the knockout semi-final clash to beat minor premiers TC United in the title decider.

This weekend, Occasionals will be captained by Melinda Park with Devin away.

The regular skipper hopes Occasionals can beat Sports outright to remain in contention for second spot.

TC United would have to lose outright for Occasionals or Wildcats to have any chance of overtaking them for the minor premiership.

Devin was heartened to see Occasionals building strongly for the finals, with her sister Deanne Lawrie and Park back.

Experienced state player Lawrie played last Saturday after three weeks out with an ankle injury.

In the hot conditions, Devin praised batting partners Heather Brooker (34) and Nicole McDonald (32) for providing valuable support as she remained unbeaten when declaring at 136.

Devin and Brooker shared in a 64-run opening stand.

Consistent performer Naomi Schaper (3/16 and 3/12) led the attack as Wildcats were dismissed for 23 and 56.

Exciting teenage prospect Gaby Weller also made a fine contribution.

In the other first division match, TC United captain Clare Gillett top scored with 20 in her side's 104 run target.

Sports were bowled out for 58 and 16 with Kate Johnston snaring 6/23 and Gillett taking 4/7.

Meanwhile, the Ipswich vigoro junior semi-finals are on Saturday with Wildcats playing Sports Spirit and Occasionals meeting Sports Pride.

The winning teams contest the grand final a week later.



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