Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN
Victoria, BC (ISN) – After a dramatic 5-4, come from behind, extra inning victory over the Surrey Storm in the semi-finals, the ’94 Victoria Devils, playing their 4th game of the day, ran out of gas and dropped a 7-2 decision to the ’95 White Rock Renegades in the Championship game of the BC Softball U18 Provincials Sunday at Centennial Park in View Royal.
The final game capped an incredible weekend of fastball that saw the top thirteen U18 girls team in the Province play a full round robin on Friday and Saturday, with the top 8 seeds advancing to the double knockout playoff format Saturday night and Sunday.
White Rock renegade ’94 third baseman Rachel Kolanko was just one of many players participating in the U18 Softball Provincials this past weekend (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The ’95 Renegades showed their dominance from the get go, advancing through the round robin with a perfect 4-0 record, including a 4-2 win over the Devils, who with the loss, finished as the third seed for the playoffs.
In playoff action, the Devils opened Friday night with a 5-0 in over the Langford Rebels. That win guaranteed the Devils no less than a 6th place finish, and with that a berth at the U18 Nationals as six BC teams will advance.
Victoria Devil pitcher Sarah Chow delivers a pitch during the Devils 5-0 playoff win against Langford Friday night (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
On Sunday morning the Devils put themselves in a good position with a crucial 6-3 win over the Surrey Storm, allowing them a bit of a rest before their next game.
Solid defence up the middle from second baseman Chelsea Strandlund (left) and short stop Jamie Bassett (right) helped the Devils to victory over the Storm in their first game Sunday (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
As luck (or perhaps bad luck) would have it, that next game would once again be against the ’95 Renegades, who also won their first two playoff games, 7-1 over South Surrey and 5-0 over their sister “94 White Rock Renegades.
In that game, which essentially served as a first semi-final, the Renegades would eke out a close 4-3 win over the Devils, putting them directly into the Championship final and awaiting the team that would emerge from the loser’s bracket.
The Devils’ Mackenzie Smith (left) and the Renegades ’95 Jocelyn Cater would do battle in their first match of the day Sunday, with Cater getting the 4-3 win (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Devil’s loss put them into a re-match with the Surrey Storm, who after their loss to the Devils in the morning, managed a dramatic, last-inning, come from behind win over Richmond 7-4 and a close 7-5 win over the ’94 White Rock squad to keep their day alive.
Richmond catcher Grace Wardle prepares to throw a runner out during the Islander’s Sunday playoff game with Surrey (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Having lost to the Devils 7-4 in the round robin and the 6-3 score earlier in the day, the Storm set out to turn the tables early on the Devils and jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead off starter Sarah Chow, but the Devils responded with 3 runs in the bottom of the first, thanks in part to a 2 RBI double by Maddy Creasy.
Maddy Creasey’s first inning double would help the Devils to an early 3-1 lead over the Storm in the semi-final game Sunday (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Storm would battle back to tie things in the top of the third and it would stay that way through the top of the seventh as both team’s pitching and defence dominated the latter half of the game.
Victoria’s Sarah Chow (left) and surrey’s Tori Belton would battle it out in the first half of the semi final game Sunday (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Devils had a huge chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh as with one out, Chelsea Strandlund stroked a double and Sarah Chow followed that up with a base hit. After an intentional walk to slugger Mackenzie Smith, the Devils found themselves with the bases loaded, but a force at the plate and a line out to second killed the inning and sent the game to extras.
Surrey’s defence, including this force of Victoria’s Prestlee Cooper by shortstop Janessa Neufeld, would keep the Devils at bay for much of the semi-final game Sunday (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the top of the eighth, the Storm would also find themselves with the bases loaded, but would get only an RBI single from Lindsay Ogilvie to go up 4-3, before the Devils defence came up big to keep any more runs off the board.
In the bottom of the frame, the Devils got things going when an RBI single from Lindsay Hilton scored Creasy to tie things at 4-4. Justine Thibedeau then hit a comebacker to the mound, but an errant throw to second by the Storm pitcher found its way into centre field, putting Devils at first and third. Prestlee Cooper was then hit by a pitch which loaded the bases for Strandlund. She would the make no mistake, lining a single into left field to score Hilton and give advance the Devils into the final against the ’95 Renegades.
Chealsea Strandlund’s 8th inning single would knock home the game winner for the Devils in their 5-4 win over the Storm (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
In the final, the ’95 Renegades sent Senior Women’s National team member Jocelyn Cater to the mound, while the Devils countered with Olivia Tubman.
The Renegade’s Jocelyn Cater would dominate the Devils in a complete game, 7-2 win in the final (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
It was Tubman who would struggle early in the game, as the Renegades would come out swinging and take a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. They would add to that lead with 3 more runs in the bottom of the third, thanks to an RBI single by Katie Vosper, a squeeze bunt RBI by Tanelle Westgard and a second RBI hit of the game by Cheyanne Head.
Olivia Tubman would start for the Devils, but struggle early, getting down 3-0 after the Renegade’s first at bats (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Meanwhile the Victoria batters were having (pardon the pun) a devil of a time with Cater and could not generate anything in the way of offence, having just a single runner on base in the first 3 innings, that courtesy of a White Rock error.
In the top of the 4th however, the Devils finally found a way to get to Cater, as a couple of runners reached and then were driven home on a 2-RBI double from Amanda LeSergent and the Devils trailed 6-2.
Maddy LeSergent’s 2 RBI double would put the Devils on the board (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Renegades would quickly get that run back in the bottom of the inning as their leadoff batter would reach on an error and would eventually come around to score on a another well-executed squeeze bunt.
The Devils would keep plugging however and in the top of the 5th, Cooper and Strandlund singled, with Cooper being driven home on a sacrifice fly from Chow, making the score 7-3.
The Devil’s Prestlee Cooper rounds second on the way to third, prior to scoring the Devil’s third run on a sacrifice fly (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
They would threaten again in the top of the 6th after Creasey singled and Emily Newman doubled, but neither runner would score as a strikeout and a close call in the Renegades favour at first, ended the inning.
That would be it for the scoring, as Cater would wrap things up with a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th to close out the complete game 7-3 win and give the ’95 Renegades the 2012 U18 BC Provincial Fastball Championship.
The 2012 U18 BC Provincial Softball Champion White Rock Renegades ’95 (Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)