After many years of playing softball, Carlyle's Chenelle Mitchell accomplished a major goal this fall.
The daughter of Ron and Sandra Mitchell helped the University of Regina women's softball team place second at the Softball Canada National Collegiate Fastball Championship. In the finals, the Cougars fell 5-1 to the hosts from the University of Saskatchewan.
"Winning a medal at a national championship has been my goal throughout my softball career so it was very exciting to win silver at the Softball Canada National Collegiate Fastball Championship this year," Mitchell wrote in an email interview.
The national silver medals capped a successful campaign for the University of Regina. The squad placed third in the Alberta Intercollegiate Women's Fastball Association standings with an 11-6 record, In the AIWFA championship final, the Cougars finished second to the University of Saskatchewan.
"I think a major part of a team's success is the dynamics that go along with it," Mitchell wrote. "The University of Regina Cougars have a great group of girls and when everyone gets along off the field it is really shown on the field. When everyone on the team is striving for the same goal it creates a more successful team."
Mitchell contributed to the U of R's success in several ways. She was the lone Cougar to compete in all 17 league games and, in total, played a team-high 23 games, according to the squad's website. Although she played mostly infield and pitched growing up - and was used in a various positions last season - Mitchell regularly started in the outfield and a little at first base this year. She displayed great speed and solid defence for the Cougars.
University of Regina head coach Mike Smith noted the second-year player improved her batting from last season. She was thrust into a key role - as the team's No. 2-hitter - and prospered. Mitchell hit .298 with 10 runs batted in. She led the team in sacrifice bunts and was second in bunt singles.
"The second hitter needs to be able to move runners over and have good speed, which she has," Smith wrote in an email interview.
As well, Mitchell brought various intangibles to the team. Smith praised her for taking on the challenge of learning to play the outfield. He said Mitchell is "the consummate team player. She is respectful and wants to learn and become a better player."
Focused on team success, Mitchell said winning the silver medals this season and competing at the collegiate nationals in Kitchener, Ontario a season ago were definitely career highlights for her. On a personal note, she was honoured to receive the Ethel Boyce Achievement Award in the fall of 2009. The prestigious award, which includes a $1,000 bursary, is presented to a male and female athlete each year that exhibits leadership traits and skills in softball. Mitchell - who shared it with Shane Boland from Goulds, Newfoundland - was recognized for her skill as well as her hard work in coaching and organizing events to help younger players improve.
In the summers, Mitchell suits up for the Southeast Angels. She loves how playing for the University of Regina means she gets to spend more time on the diamond each year.
"Normally my season is finished the first weekend in July, but playing for the Cougars extended my season until the third weekend in October," Mitchell wrote. "I also get to experience a more advanced level of softball."
Mitchell is enrolled in the U of R's Faculty of Business Administration and plans to major in accounting. She grew up around her family's Carlyle RV & Leisure business so the field has always interested her. As well as inspiring her future career direction, Mitchell said her family had a big impact on her success in softball.
"My parents have spent countless hours practicing with me on the diamonds and both parents have coached many of my softball teams, and they continued to coach up until this year," she wrote. "Living in a small town limited the training that was offered, so my parents were constantly driving me to the city to participate in different softball camps. With my parents' support I was able to excel in the sport and join a university team."