The Quesnel K2 Courier Services U14 softball team came from behind to take silver in the softball provincial earlier this month.
Pat Jones, the team’s coach, was happy with the girl’s performance.
“It was absolutely awesome. One of the best parts about it is we took the same team to Maple Ridge and got third. Two of the teams that beat us in that tournament, we beat them this time,” Jones said.
Despite the impressive finish, the round robin was a mixed affair for the girls. Their first game, against the Cloverdale Outlaws, was a close loss with a 9-8 final score.
They came back against Ridge Meadows to win with a decisive 9-5 final and continued in that vein with a 7-2 win over Chilliwack.
Their final round robin game, however, was another close loss, this time going down 7-6 to the Mission Elite. they finished the round robin in sixth.
The team was largely the same version that played locally, the only additions being a new pitcher and a couple infielders.
The pitcher, Carli Gibbs, was a great addition to the team. Jones credits her with winning six of the eight games the girls played with her strong work ethic and fast arm.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never seen anyone pitch that hard, that long, that well,” Jones said.
At the other end of the pitch, Christina Lawrence, the back catcher for the team, managed to erect a wall that stopped those pesky runners from stealing bases.
“She did a phenomenal job of throwing girls out. Eventually they just stopped running,” Jones said.
The team didn’t just rely on the pitcher and backstop, Jones praised his whole defense for the girls’ ability to stop their opponents from crossing that final plate, with quick throws and smart plays.
On the offensive side of things, the girls played the game their own way: short. Instead of focusing on hitting the ball out of the park, the team focused on its speed running, using effective bunts the opposing teams were not ready for.
In fact, one of the teams was so unprepared that Kim Hruschak, a player Jones said can really run, was able to do the full four-base tour on a bunt.
With a runner on second, Hruschak bunted. The girls on first and third collapsed in to field the ball, which left first empty, the girl on second electing to stay there on account of the runner on second. That, however, turned out to be a critical mistake as the fielder threw, without looking, to first, only to watch the ball whip through the air where a glove should have been, as Hruschak ran by unimpeded. With that mistake the two girls each found their way home safely.
In the playoff round the girls came into their own. They started their playoffs against the third ranked North Shore Wildcats.
The perceived gap between the two teams, the Wildcats ranked third and the Quesnel K2 ranked sixth, didn’t bother the girls. The game ended with the lowest score of the tournament for the Quesnel girls at 4-2, but the results were in their favour and so they moved on.
The Langley Thunder got the their thunder stolen with a
11-3 loss to the Quesnel girls, which gained the girls much-needed momentum, as their next opponents were the only team undefeated in the round robin.
The Langford Strikers proved to be difficult, but not unbeatable, as the Quesnel girls proved with their 8-7 win.
Then all that momentum was dissipated with a long wait in the hot, afternoon sun.
“We had almost a three hour delay between games. After that the girls were flat,” Jones said.
And it showed in the final score, as the Naramata team managed to break Quesnel’s win streak, beating them 11-2.
Despite the disappointing loss, Jones said the girls were ecstatic with the silver.
Jones is already looking forward to next year, when many of the girls will move up to Bantam ball.
With the talent already available in Bantam and the talent that’s moving up, Jones is optimistic about next year.
“I expect to do well,” he said.