The Estevan Elite U14 girls provincial softball team are the 2015 Softball Saskatchewan U14 B Girls – South champions after defeating the Oxbow Southeast Supreme 11-3 last Sunday in the championship final game at the Pleasantdale Softball Diamonds.
Before a large crowd of cheering fans lining the ball park fences along the first and third base lines the Elite capitalized on three missed catches by the Southeast Supreme to score four quick runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take home the gold medals. The final two runs that put the game out of reach for Oxbow came on a ground-out hit by Brynn Waloshin that brought home Madison Ridell from third base and Kelsey Littlejohn from second in a display of aggressive base running.
The eight-run lead forced the umpires to call the game an Estevan win before the final seventh inning with the game officially out of reach.
Jody Waloshin, head coach of the Estevan Elite U14 girls softball team, which is made up of girls from both Estevan and Carlyle, said the Southeast Supreme deserve as much credit as his own girls for the way they played in the final and throughout the three-day tournament. He described the championship game as “head-to-head” and highlighted by great defensive play and pitching through the first five innings, but it was the Elite's focus on aggressive play and capitalizing on errors that gave them the win.
“Knowing when to play the short game, getting runs in position to score, getting runners on base in a way to capitalize on the next batter, these tight games you need to do that,” said Waloshin. “It's either one or two runs each inning. That's all you need to win these games.”
After a dominant display of pitching by Elite starter Kaylin Wilson to shut down the first three Southeast Supreme batters in the top of the first inning, the Estevan offence quickly began to shine in the mid-day haze at the park. Leadoff hitter Morgan Walter took first base on a walk and quickly attempted to steal second resulting in a throw across the diamond from Oxbow catcher Mia Plews that got past Supreme middle infielders Meegan Hood and Brittany Klassen and rolled into centre field. Walter was able to run home on the play and put the Elite up 1-0 less than five minutes into their half of the inning.
Elite batters Jenna Blanchette and Shanelle Rioux also found their way around the bases in the bottom half of the first giving the Elite a quick 3-0 lead.
“The majority of these games, when they're this close, it usually ends up on errors, and errors could cost you the game. And I think that's what happened,” said Waloshin. “There were a few minor errors that got us in the lead and some calls that went our way and that ended up continuing. A team gets down a couple runs, it's hard to get back up and we just flourished on being in the lead.”
Being down three runs early didn't seem to dampen the Oxbow players' spirits as the second inning proved to be a showcase of their talent both with the bat and on defence. In the top half of the inning Plews got things started by crushing a pitch into centre field that brought in base-runners Adrienne Forseth and Augustina Greeley. Southeast Supreme starting pitcher Madison McNeil took over in the bottom half by striking out the first two batters she faced before completing a ground-out play on an infield hit by the fourth batter to end the inning.
Estevan's game-winning run came in the bottom of the third inning when Wilson stole home on a wild pitch putting the Elite up 4-2.
“That was a well-played game by all the girls,” said Chad Baglole, head coach for the Oxbow Southeast Supreme U14 girls softball team, which also includes girls from Carnduff and area on their roster. “It was a long weekend, everyone was getting tired, but all round it was a very good game.”
Waloshin said the short April to July provincial team's season is all a lead-up to the championship tournament. He said all the training and work the girls put in under the direction of his coaching staff through the past couple months was evident by the game they played last Sunday afternoon.
“They all came together as a team and performed,” he said. “Pitching was a big thing, pitching and catching, the two strongest players plus a good infield. Every player has their own specific job to do and all these girls did it.”