There was a Heat wave in Surrey last weekend, as the Cranbrook U16 girls team headed down to the Lower Mainland for the Canadian Fastpitch Championships.
The girls managed to earn two wins in a six- game schedule, making it far enough to make an appearance in the ‘B’ pool final, where they lost in the final inning, said head coach Greg Sternig.
“We played in the final game against a team from Estevan, Saskatchewan, and we were tied three-all going into the final inning,” Sternig said. “We left a runner on base, we couldn’t get her in, and they had a runner on base when they went up to bat and they got her in, so they beat us 4-3 in the final.
“It was a great way to finish. Overall just a real fantastic experience for the girls.”
Sternig and fellow coach Shawn Hillstead helped the girls navigate the challenges of playing in such a large tournament, which featured teams from the U.S. and the prairie provinces.
“We were in just about every game,” added Sternig. “One game was a bit of a blowout—we got mercied—but all the other games were within one or two runs, so the girls played exceptional in a lot of ways.”
Despite four losses over the course of the weekend, the girls had two wins, one of which they mercied their opponents by a score of 15-5.
“We went up against one of the teams called Seattle Spice and my daughter was actually pitching that game and it was a fantastic game, we mercied them 15-5 and it was just an awesome game,” said Sternig.
Provincials were running on the same weekend on Vancouver Island, but Sternig said the teams that were at the tournament were likely the best in the province.
“I think it was some of the best teams in B.C. in that type of ball,” Sternig said. “There’s A and B divisions in softball and these girls were probably the best in the province—the girls that we were playing.
“Some of the teams had elected to go to provincials in Port Alberni, the teams that showed up to this tournament—we feel—were better, and some of them went undefeated in the province all year, and we went toe-to-toe with them, so that was pretty remarkable.”
Joining the team for added support in the dugout during the event was nine-year-old Madison Nakonechny, who was assigned to help out as the bat girl, and was quickly included into the Heat fold, according to her father, Braden Nakonechny.
“All weekend long Madison was treated as one of their own, included in their team cheers, she felt part of the team and was honoured to be part of such a fine group of young women,” the senior Nakonechny wrote in an email.
“To the coaches and parents who also made Madison one of their own, you all added to the excitement this past weekend and thank you for the generous gift. Your community should be proud of how you all represented Cranbrook so well, always positive and all great role models for my young daughter just at the beginning of her softball career.”