Victoria Devils 2001s’ Jessica Strandlund slides unsuccessfully back into third base against the Richmond Islanders during the Softball B.C. under-14 girls ‘A’ provincial championship last weekend in View Royal.

Coaches see positive signs at U-14 softball provincials in View Royal

Young Victoria Devils team shows promise for 2015 season

West Shore teams received a good test of their skill and stamina last weekend at the Softball B.C. under-14 girls A championships  at View Royal’s Helmcken-Centennial Park.

The two second-year teams competing, tournament co-host Victoria Devils 2000s and the Langford Lightning, saw their progress stopped a few wins away from the finals – they tied for fifth out of 13 teams. Nonetheless, the experience was valuable, said Devils head coach Kevin Bobroske.

“The expectation coming into provincials was that if we played well against the Vancouver-area teams, we’d feel like it was a successful tournament, and we did that,” he said Sunday, after his team was eliminated with a 4-1 loser’s bracket loss to the Ridge Meadows Pride.

The Devils were up 1-0 through most of the game, but couldn’t hold off the mainland squad in the late innings.

Following round-robin play, the eighth-place Devils 2000s drew eventual champion and top-seeded White Rock Renegades to open the double-knockout round Saturday evening. The teams were deadlocked at 1-1 through eight innings, before White Rock scored one in the ninth to win it.

“That was a fantastic pitching duel, with great plays both offensively and defensively,” Bobroske said. “It really got us going for today and we got our bats going.”

The Devils opened Sunday with an 11-3 win over the Delta Heat 2001s. Delta had lost the winner’s bracket semifinal against the Surrey Storm 2001s, last year’s under-12 B.C. champion.

The Lightning, seventh after the four-game round robin, lost their first playoff game to the Storm 2001s, but rebounded to beat White Rock’s 2001 team 8-0 on Sunday.

Langford came up against a tough Richmond Islanders squad next, however, and were eliminated with an 8-0 loss.

White Rock 2000s captured the title with a 4-3 win over Richmond, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Richmond had eliminated the Storm 2001s with a 5-1 win in the loser’s bracket final.

Paddy Strandlund, head coach of the Devils 2001s and tournament co-ordinator, was pleased with his team’s performance as well. The first-year U-14 team went 2-2 in round robin play – their two wins came over their older clubmates and the Lightning, both of whom finished well ahead of them in South Island league play.

“They’re excited to come back next year,” he said of the younger Devils.

Overall, the tournament came off without a hitch, Strandlund added. Not only did the large number of volunteers do yeoman’s work all weekend, spectators were treated to some high-quality play, he said, considering the players are just 12 and 13 years old.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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