Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart – ISN
Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Cordova Bay Cyclones Midget B women’s fastball team is heading to the Western Canadian U18 Softball Championships in Winnipeg on August 9-12 after capturing the Bronze medal at the U18B BC Provincial tournament in Surrey over the July 13th weekend.
The Cyclones were preparing for the Westerns last Thursday with an exhibition game against the Victoria Devils ’96 squad, who themselves are off to Nationals (see HERE) and ISN’s Christian J. Stewart caught up with the team to get some insight on their bronze medal and their preparations for Winnipeg.
The Cyclones started things off at Provincials in fine fashion rolling through the first three games of the round robin with a 4-0 win over the Richmond Islanders, a 15-4 drubbing of the Parksville Rage, and a 6-2 win over the Langford Lightning before suffering a 12-3 loss to the South Surrey Thunder.
In the playoff round, things started well for the Cyclones as they handed the Burnaby Oakeys a 6-2 loss and then pasted the North Shore Stars 6-1. That put them one win away from the championship game, but against the Surrey Storm, they lost a heart-breaking 3-2 decision in extra innings, moving them into the losers bracket of the double knockout format, where they faced a re-match with the North Shore stars for the rights to go to the final. Unfortunately the Cyclones did not have the magic they had earlier in the day against the Stars and dropped a 6-5 decision, giving them the Bronze.
The Cyclones and their Bronze Medal at Provincials: Back row: Dave Gamble (coach), Katie Gamble, Ashley Schenk, Taylor White, Jessica Audette, Ali Russell, Nicole Shea, Shelby Thornton, Rob Stephens (coach), Dale Marshall (coach); Front row: Shayla Aspden, Arianna Thornsbury, Amber Stephens, Jenna Hoy, Samantha Cox, Paige White (Photo Courtesy Dale Marshall)
Head Coach Dale Marshall was proud of his team nonetheless. “These girls have been playing together since they were 6 years old and have stuck together to form a pretty tight knit group over that time. This is their last year of minor ball together, so despite the heart-breaking losses at the end, I am proud that they got a Provincial medal and that they have the opportunity to go to Westerns in their final year.”
“I am also looking forward to Winnipeg, as it has some historical meaning for me,” added Marshall. “Our other coach Robbie Stevens and I played together for years and the last Westerns we won as players was at the same park we are going to in Winnipeg. We won a gold medal there as players, so now we told the girls that we might as well do it now as coaches too.”
Cyclone pitchers Jessica Audette (left) and Shelby Thornton (right) along with Ashley Schenk, will see the bulk of the duty pitching at the Westerns (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Perhaps that is an omen of good things to come for the Cyclones in Winnipeg and if their game against the Devils last Thursday was any indication, the Cyclones should have success in Winnipeg, as they gave the younger Devils a lesson in hitting and defence and easily won the exhibition match.
If the Cyclones are to in fact succeed in Winnipeg, much of it will ride on the backs of their pitchers who include Jessica Audette, Shelby Thornton and Ashley Schenk, who will be attending college in New York State next season. Softball teams at this level commonly have just 2-3 pitchers, so given that the last day of the tournament could mean playing up to 5 games on the day, focus and conditioning of the pitching staff is paramount.
Offensive execution by Amber Stephens and the rest of her teammates will be one key to victory at the Westerns for the Cyclones (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
Like all softball teams, the Cyclones will also need to rely a quick defence that features Taylor White and Jenna Hoy anchoring the middle infield and hope their offence can execute and come up with the clutch hot when needed.
The Cyclones will look to their middle infielders Jenna Hoy (right) and Page White (left) for clutch defence at the Westerns (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
The Cyclones begin their quest for Western Canadian Gold with three games on the first day, starting bright and early on Thursday August 9th when they face Prince Albert at 8:30 am. They follow that up with round robin games against Winnipeg (MB1), Smitty’s (MB2), Manitoba Angels (Host), Saskatchewan Predators, and Alberta’s Calahoo Erins.
Hitters Taylor White (left) and Arianna Wood (right) are just two of the Cyclones that will need to provide offensive spark for the Cyclones at the Westerns (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / Island Sports News)
A 1st to 4th place finish in the round robin standings would put them into the semi-finals on Saturday night, with a shot to go to the Championship game scheduled for Sunday August 12th at 1:00 pm.
Good luck Cyclones!
This is the first time that the team is heading to Westerns and as you can imagine, the travel expenses for this trip will be quite costly and they are now turning to our community for support and sponsorship. We hope that you will be willing to assist this great group of young women and elite athletes as they continue to strive and achieve excellence in athletics. It is not too late to become a sponsor and if you are interested, please contact head coach Dale Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org