The finish was a tough one for the Unity Panthers.
However, to be able to come away with a bronze medal in the girls’ division at the Western Canadian U14 Softball Championship was still an impressive feat.
“These girls never gave up,” Panthers coach Rene Feser said. “They gave their very best all season and they had a such a great attitude.
“All 13 girls on our roster made our entire coaching staff proud with how they preformed.”
The Panthers were three outs away from earning a spot in the championship game as they held a 5-2 lead over the Lloydminster Liners of Alberta heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
That was when the Liners offence finally broke through as they scored four unanswered runs to complete the comeback and end the Panthers’ season.
“We were ahead most of the game, but it never felt like it as it was a back and forth battle right from the start,” Feser said. “Lloydminster is a great team, and they were able to come out on top today.
“If you look at the top three teams in this tournament, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the competition be as close as it was in these last few games. In fact, the whole field from top to bottom was amazing.”
The Surrey Storm would edge the Liners 4-3 in the finals Monday afternoon.
After starting the tournament with a 3-2 record, the Panthers needed a win in their last round-robin contest Sunday morning in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs and avoid a tiebreaker game.
They were able to do just that as they cruised to a 12-4 win over the Liners.
“We talked to the girls in the morning and told them that if we win we move on and if we lose it’s a bit of a numbers game,” Feser said.
“Against Lloydminster, the girls came out on fire and they kept that rolling right into the playoffs.”
In the 3 vs. 4 Page playoff game, the Panthers found themselves in an all Saskatchewan matchup against the Alameda Super Novas.
Once again, their offence was tough to stop as they once again scored a dozen runs in a 12-3 victory.
“We played them in the provincials three weeks ago in Oxbow but that was a completely different game,” Feser said. “We were down five runs going into the seventh inning and we were able to come back to win that one.
“The enthusiasm level of the girls was the big difference today. They came out and hit everything that they saw, and they couldn’t be beat.”
Although they weren’t the tournament hosts, the Panthers had a ton of support throughout the weekend and it often felt like they were the hometown side with the amount of fans from Unity that came to Battleford.
“That was awesome,” Feser said. “It was really great to have everyone cheering us on and we have to tip our hats to everyone here in Battleford for how well the weekend went.”