From start to finish, there was no stopping a pair of British Columbia teams at Battleford Flats Park over the Civic Holiday weekend.
The Barriere Bruins and Surrey Storm both went undefeated on their way to capturing the boys’ and girls’ titles respectively at the 2017 Western Canadian U14 Softball Championship Monday afternoon.
“I didn’t know that the guys had did that until our game had finished so it was pretty cool that we both accomplished that,” Storm coach John Herdman said. “I was really happy to see our girls have a great week here. We had a fifth place in our provincials, and there were a lot of tears afterwards, so it was really nice to see them with a smile on their face again.”
“It certainly wasn’t as easy as we made it out to be,” Bruins coach Phil Ransome added. “It took a little bit for our team to get used to being here and there was some really tough competition, as every game was fairly tight all tournament.”
The Bruins went a perfect 5-0 in the round-robin to finish in first place in the six-team field and then clinched a spot in the final with a walk-off 6-5 win over the Shellbrook Rangers in the 1 vs. 2 Page playoff game Sunday evening.
The championship contest between the two sides ended up being an 8-1 affair, but the Bruins knew that the Rangers would give them a tough task.
“They were a really good team and they took it to us a little bit in the semi,” Ransome said. “We gave up too many stolen bases and had too many passed balls in that game, and the adjustments we made to correct that allowed us to have a better performance in the final.
“The strength of our team was our hitting and once we got our bats going, it was pretty tough to try and match us in the runs department with how good our pitching was.”
The bronze medal went to the Cross Lake Wolves of Manitoba, as they dropped a 12-5 affair to the Rangers in the semifinal.
Rounding out the six-team field were The Irma Tigers from Alberta and a pair of Saskatchewan teams, the Warman Panthers and the Delisle Diamond Dogs.
The Storm also went undefeated in the round-robin in the girls’ division with a 6-0 record, though their toughest opponent would await them in the playoff round.
They defeated the Lloydminster Liners in a thrilling 2-1 extra-inning affair Sunday to earn a spot in the final, where they came out on top again by a score of 4-3.
“It was scoreless through seven innings in that first game we had and both teams played really well,” Herdman said. “The final was just as close and it really could have gone either way, but our girls found a way to dig deep and come away with the win.
“We won all of our games, but I don’t think we really dominated the event. We had a lot of close games and things just went our way late. We did have a strong defence and really good pitching, which I think helped us out.”
The Unity Panthers came away with the bronze medal, as they were defeated 6-5 by the Liners in a thrilling semifinal.
Another Saskatchewan team made it to the playoffs as the Alameda Super Novas finished in fourth place following a 12-3 loss to the Panthers.
The Westman Magic from Brandon, Man., the host Battleford Bandits, the Manitoba Thunder of Winnipeg, the South Delta Invaders from British Columbia and the Sherwood Park Storm of Alberta made up the rest of the nine-team field.