It could not have been a better ending for the Battlefords Bandits at the provincial bantam B girls’ tournament they hosted.
The Bandits won the title 2-1 over the Moose Creek Jays when a base hit by Kirsty Kindrachuk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and final inning brought home Shayln Fedler from third base.
Afterwards, the happy Bandits players celebrated by dunking their icy water cooler on their head coach Rod Fedler.
It was the second provincial title for the Bandits, the last one coming just two years ago on the same diamond at the Battleford Flats.
The 13 winning Bandits players on the roster are Shayln Fedler, Keinyn Nordell, Tiandra Ewanchuk, Hanna Beatch, Jesse Schmidt, Kennedy Schaefer, Bailey Lamontagne, Kirsty Kindrachuk, Kalie Nordell, Taylor Cave, Shallen McNabb, Blayne Nichol and Leah Campbell.
It capped a great weekend of girl’s bantam B fastball at the Flats from July 6 through 8, with 12 teams competing in the provincial tournament.
The event was well-attended by softball fans, including many who had driven from miles away to support their local teams as they competed in Battleford. Five of the teams were from Saskatoon and Rosetown, Melville, Weyburn, Wynyard and Martensville were among the communities represented. Fans from Moose Creek, located in the province’s southeast, travelled the furthest to be there.
The fans were blessed with great weather all weekend. That helped ward off the mosquitoes. The pesky insects couldn’t hack the sunshine and high temperatures during the daytime on Saturday and Sunday.
Three pools of four teams each competed for the six spots in the championship round. Battleford had no problems in the round robin portion of the tournament. They bombed the Wynyard Blues 15-0 Friday. In their second game Saturday against Martensville, the Bandits took an 11-2 lead before Martensville was forced to default the game after three innings because a player developed a bloody nose, leaving them with not enough players to continue.
The third game Saturday night saw the Bandits score a 6-2 win over the Saskatoon Phantoms, assuring the Bandits a bye into the semi-finals.
The Bandits finished atop the Green pool with a 3-0 record. Martensville also qualified for the championship round after finishing second at 2-1, while the Phantoms finished 1-2 and Wynyard finished 0-3.
In the semifinals against the Saskatoon Hustler Storm, the Bandits trailed 3-1 early before roaring back to win 10-3, setting up the matchup with the Moose Creek Jays.
Again, the Bandits came back from a 1-0 deficit with runs in the sixth inning and the seventh inning to win the game.
The Bandits not only pounded the ball effectively but also won by playing good defense throughout the tournament, keeping the opposing teams from putting runs on the board.
Head coach Rod Fedler was proud of the effort from his team and impressed with the calibre of the competition.
“We came in thinking that we should be one of the top teams if we played the way that we could, and the kids just played great today.”
He acknowledged it took some time for the Bandits to get rolling in the final games. The “bats were a little bit slow,” said Fedler. “We were on the ball but nothing was falling in, and we told the kids to keep going. They’re hitting it on the nose and they’ll fall in, and they did both games.”
Fedler called the exciting final game one of the best ones he’d seen.
Manager Karrie Nordell was also impressed by what she saw of the Bandits.
“They played their best games yet – they were in the game all the time, and they were focused, more focused than they’ve been all year.”
She also credited the Moose Creek team, “They didn’t give us an inch. We had to work hard for what we got.”
Both the coach and the manager pointed to Kindrachuk for her performance. She not only pounded in the final winning run with the bases loaded, but she pitched 11 straight innings – four in the semi-final and seven in the final – for the victory.
Fedler also was quick to point out that the whole team contributed to the victory. Everyone on the Bandits roster could have been “starters for any other team that are here.”