It’s been a gradual climb for Layritz Little League and there’s only one step left to conquer.
The team of 13- and 14-year-old girls based out of the Saanich park made it to the final of the Junior Softball Little League World Series on Saturday, only to lose to their Alaskan counterparts 6-2. The tourney was played in Kirkland, Wash., with the final broadcast on ESPN 2.
It was the most successful finish for the three-time Canadian champs in all three of its trips to the world softball World Series.
“We didn’t even win a game in our first trip so we’ve come a long way,” said coach Paul Tucker.
After bouncing back from losing to the host Kirkland in the opener, Layritz became the “darlings of the tournament,” Tucker said, by defeating two U.S.A. teams, including Alaska in the round robin. Layritz then upset Puerto Rico, the overall favourite, with a 5-2 win in the semifinal.
“As we defeated other teams they became our fans, and the other teams were cheering for us in the finals.”
Pitcher Ashley Penney starred in the series, flying in from the Softball Canada U16 Fast Pitch championships in Brantford, Ont., on Tuesday. Penney pitched and lost in the national U16 final, too, as B.C. finished second.
In Kirkland, Penney pitched in three games, and struck out 29 batters in 17 innings, while giving up just 16 hits. Equally impressive on the mound was Jenna Saulnier, who struck out 18 batters in 16 innings. Stef Galitzine hit .467 in the tourney batting lead off, scoring four times.
“I try to replay it in my mind what else we could have done, but the bats just weren’t quite there (Saturday),” Tucker said.
Eleven of the 12 girls will play senior Little League with Layritz next year. That world series, should they make it for a fourth straight year, is held in Delaware.
Under-16 baseball players off to nats
Four players from Victoria are representing Team B.C. at the U16 Bantam Girls Baseball Canadian Championship in Halifax, N.S., Aug. 21 to 28.
Mary Harding, Shayla Zeitz, Megan Thomson and Sofi Jansch have travelled to the Lower Mainland every weekend this summer to train with the team and play in tournaments in preparation for this week.
Team B.C. is made up of girls from all over the Lower Mainland, the Island and the Okanagan.