Gemma Sims on her way to 57 not out against Hutt Valley High School. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Tournament MVP Gemma Sims led the way for St Matthew’s Collegiate as they took an impressive third place at the Gillette Venus national secondary schools championships.
The wicketkeeper-opening batter scored 199 runs, including two half centuries and a highest score of 57 not out, averaging 49.75 over the school’s six games.
After two losses on Friday, the Masterton school won four straight matches.
St Matthew’s had the toughest of starts coming up against eventual finalists, the powerful Christchurch Girls’ High School and Epsom Girls’ Grammar sides, on the first day of the T20 competition played at Lincoln, south of Christchurch.
Middle order batters Georgia Edge scored 57 not out in Christchurch Girls’ total of 108-4. Hattie Vincent was the best of the St Matthew’s bowlers, with 2-15 off four accurate overs.
St Matthew’s battled to get on top of the accurate Christchurch bowling and fell six runs short of an upset victory.
Second up, St Matthew’s faced eventual champions Epsom Girls’ Grammar, a side that included several fringe Auckland Hearts.
Elizabeth Cohr, batting at number six was the best of the St Matthew’s batters, with 27, as they amassed a score of 103-6.
That was never enough against Epsom, who chased down the total in 16.3 overs.
Kate Sims and Gracie Donaldson both grabbed two wickets.
The Sims twins were the stars for St Matthew’s in their third game against defending champions St Hilda’s from Dunedin.
A consistent bowling effort led by medium pacer Kate Sims with 4-19 restricted St Hilda’s to 93-9.
Gemma Sims dominated the bowling attack with 46 not out, which included six fours and a six, as St Matthew’s sealed the victory in 15.4 overs.
A 107-run opening partnership between Gemma Sims [57no] and Macy Lyford  set up an easy 83-run win over Waikato Diocesan in their fourth match.
The Hamilton school was never in the hunt chasing St Matthew’s total of 150-1 and were dismissed for 67.
Emma McLeod led the bowling with 3-7, with good support from Cohr, who claimed 2-7.
St Matthew’s had an outside chance of making the final going into their round robin match, needing to beat Hutt Valley High School and hoping on Epsom Girl’s Grammar losing to St Hilda’s.
St Matthew’s did their bit with a 26-run over Hutt Valley. Gemma Sims scored her second half century  and combined with Ocean Bartlett  in a 99-run second wicket partnership in their total of 119-4.
Spin bowler Lyford and Kate Sims took two wickets each as Hutt Valley were restricted to 93-8.
Epsom Girls’ Grammar were too good for St Hilda’s and booked their place in the final with Christchurch Girls’ High School.
That set up a third-fourth playoff between St Matthew’s and St Hilda’s.
St Matthew’s made no race of the decider, winning by 70 runs.
St Matt’s were in early trouble at 20-3 but a series of mini partnerships saw them through to 126-9. St Hilda’s response of 56 was notable for a remarkable five run outs.
Epsom Girls’ Grammar went on to win the final by 80 runs over Christchurch Girls’ High School.
Christchurch Girls’ High School 108-4 [Georgia Edge 57no; Hattie Vincent 2-15] beat St Matthew’s 102-8 [Libby Stead 3-20, Maggie Martin 2-15] by six runs.
St Matthew’s 103-6 [Elizabeth Cohr 27; Ede Rogan 2-12] lost to Epsom Girls’ Grammar 104-5 [Breearne Illing 25; Kate Sims 2-17, Gracie Donaldson 2-18] by five wickets.
St Hilda’s 93-9 [Megan Meltzer 45; Kate Sims 4-19, Gracie Donaldson 2-15] lost to St Matthew’s 94-4 [Gemma Sims 46no; Zarah Moana 2-21] by six wickets.
St Matthew’s 150-1 [Gemma Sims 57no, Macy Lyford 51] beat Waikato Diocesan 67 [Emma McLeod 3-7, Elizabeth Cohr 2-5] by 83 runs.
St Matthew’s 119-4 [Gemma Sims 53, Ocean Bartlett 40] beat Hutt Valley High School 93-8 [Antonia Hamilton 36, Hannah Kells 30; Macy Lyford 2-8, Kate Sims 2-17] by 26 runs.
St Matthew’s 126-9 [Gemma Sims 23, Elizabeth Cohr 22; Molly Loe 2-13, Megan Meltzer 2-18] beat St Hilda’s 56 [Kate Sims 2-2] by 70 runs.
Epsom Girls’ Grammar 154-4 [Ella Drumm 40no, Amie Hucker 38] beat Christchurch Girls’ High School 74 [Amie Hucker 2-18, Ede Rogan 2-16, Phoebe Jones 2-12] by 80 runs.