The Kelowna Heat U18 Girls fastball team battled hard this past weekend to bring home a silver medal at the U18 Western Canadian Championships, held in Lloydminster, Sask.
The team qualified for Westerns (July 31 to Aug. 3) with a gutsy effort in Nanaimo two weeks earlier, placing fourth in the province. The qualification to the Westerns allowed the Heat one last chance to close out the season with a medal, and they didn’t disappoint.
The formula for success was executing on a strategy of a mixed offence built on speed, bunting and power hitting, backed up with solid pitching, and a tight defence.
They had a 3-1 record through the round-robin, while outscoring there competition 37 to 25. Nanaimo surprised them with a nail-biter 5-6 loss at the start of the playoffs. This sent the team down the longer path to fight back into medal contention.
The girls dug deep and won their next three games in convincing style versus St. Albert (8-0), Manitoba #2 (13-3) and Nanaimo (8-0). The redemption win against Nanaimo guaranteed the team at least a silver medal.
In the ninth game of the weekend, the girls faced the un-beaten Manitoba Thunder, to determine the gold and silver winners. They held them to a 2-2 tie until the Thunder’s offence came alive in the fourth inning, with a couple big hits to gain the lead.
The Kelowna Heat accomplished something that no other Kelowna team in their division has ever done, with a medal at the Western Championship.
On the way to the final, the girls finished first in their pool after four games, and then had to play five more games to the medals. Through the nine games played over four days, the girls scored 74 runs, while allowing only 40 runs against. They mercied there opponent three times, won two games without allowing a run and, in their final four games, a very focused defence played almost error-free, allowing a total of only nine runs.
“The team played through great adversity all weekend with countless injuries and a steady flow of ice, bandages and even crutches for one of the pitchers who sustained an ankle injury.” said coach Boyd Tyerman. “The pitching staff came out strong, keeping the opponents run production down, while the rest of the team generated the offence required to claim a medal. It was a full team effort, with every player contributing throughout the four days.
“I have never coached a more deter mined group of young ladies, they were highly focused and put forth an effort that definitely deserved bringing home some hardware.”
Tyerman called the Heat’s pitching effort, courtesy of Sicamous products Ann-Marie Crandlemire and Gina Selfe, spectacular.
“Anytime your pitchers can strike-out 27 batters, and have a combined earned run average of only 1.1, good things are going to happen.
Ann-Marie Crandlemire pitched for four wins (including shut-outs), and 15 strikeouts, that was a remarkable effort considering she had just returned from months off with a leg injury.
Gina Selfe was a workhorse pitching in six games with an ERA of only 2.45, while battling through a leg injury that developed through the weekend.
All Pitchers combined for a team ERA of only 1.13 (earned runs against). During the course of the weekend the pitchers earned 27 strikeouts.