Five Quesnel girls assisted the Prince George Thunderbirds in their bronze medal winning run at the U16 Western Canadian Softball Championships in Biggar, Sask., this past weekend (Aug. 2-5).
Kaitlyn Doucette, Destiny Bautista, Rylee Paterson, Amelia Musselman and Kiana Mero put on solid performances against the best ball clubs west of Ontario.
“We amazed ourselves,” says Donnie Doucette, the club’s assistant coach and Kaitlyn’s father. “Just realizing that we were competitive with the rest of the western province’s teams was pretty exciting for us coming from a small community like this. Especially when most of the [population] centres [of the teams we faced] were quite big compared to where we’re coming from.”
The team went 3-1 in its first four games to gain a bit of momentum in the tournament.
They bested the Lloyd Liners from Alberta in their first game on Friday evening by a score of 7-0 before losing a 3-1 nail-biter to the South East SuperNovas from Carlyle, Sask., on Saturday morning.
The day was to improve from there, however, as they dominated the Interlake Phillies from Manitoba 9-2 in their next Saturday game.
The squad followed that up by beating up on the host team from Biggar in a 4-2 win.
The results from the first two days worked wonders pumping up the team.
“Winning our first couple games was a real confidence booster after provincials,” says Kaitlyn. “We had never seen those teams and didn’t know what calibre they would be, so knowing that we can fit right in and do as well as we did was pretty unreal.”
The squad would lose its next two games on Sunday to eventual winners Westman Magic from Manitoba.
The first was a 10-8 shoot-out where both teams showcased their batting ability, while the second was an 11-4 loss where the Thunderbirds weren’t able to muster up the same offensive outburst.
They still had a chance to play in the finals but fell to the South East SuperNovas 6-2 in the semis.
Destiny Bautista says the team could have prevailed but fell just short.
“We were down from the start, but we worked our way back into the game,” she says. “We had one inning where we had the bases loaded, but they got a couple quick outs to end the inning.
“It was really exciting though because we kept hitting in the last two innings and were still fighting to get into the finals.”
Donnie says the loss was a tough one, as the girls were pretty sure-footed coming into it.
“Going into the semi-finals, the girls had quite a bit of confidence, knowing we’d mercied two teams [in the round robin],” he says.
“We’d played the SuperNovas and had just lost to them by two runs, and we thought we had a team that could beat them.”
Despite the setback, Donnie has nothing but pride for how the team fared.
“They played their hearts out,” he says. “Kiana got a home run, and so did Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn pitched really well too and got quite a few strikeouts.”
At the end of the season, Donnie says their defensive skills were quite fine-tuned.
“Our girls are just starting to make those plays second nature now. So when you see a double play made, it’s just another double play.”
He adds the girls are quite lucky to have had the chance to play on the stage they did.
“I don’t know how many girls can ever say that they’ll get that opportunity. For them to be able to experience that is something they’ll take with them for a long time.”
Terry Bonnar took the time to post a great poem for the squad on the tournament’s Facebook page.
“The arms of gold, competed with the best in the west, our B.C. girls, were put to their test, to outscore the opposition on the road to baseball gold, the outcome didn’t favour our P.G. girls, now the story has foretold.
“A third-place finish, amongst the Western Canadian strong, the pride of P.G. are coming home with a bronze.
“These girls of summer, should be proud of their achievements in baseball this year, a northern group, not all that live near.
“So for these players clap, clap, clap; to these coaches I tip my cap .
“To this team, you have entertained us all, from the opening day and the umpires’ ‘PLAY BALL.’”
“So I guess congratulations are due on your achievements this year, it won’t be long, till opening season returns here.”