With three home runs, including a grand slam, the View Royal Falcons looked to have owned the Manitoba Thunder at the Western Canadian U16B softball championships.
But it wasn’t to be as the Thunder came back to defeat the Falcons, twice, as Manitoba took gold and View Royal silver.
The team of 14 is made up of 12 players born in 2002, and two born in 2003, with many from Saanich and other parts of Victoria. Much of the team played together last year for Layritz Little League, winning nationals.
The Falcons (a Baseball BC club) won the district championships for the U16B level of Greater Victoria back in June. That qualified them for provincials at Kelowna in July where they won silver.
“Kelowna then was extremely hot, 38 degrees, our first few days,” said Sean Albhouse, who’s an assistant coach with coaches Mark Ages and Bruce Cumming. “With two to three games per day, playing midday, they players were cautious of heat stroke.”
Earning silver at provincials put the Falcons into the Western Canadians, Aug. 8 to 12 in Kelowna, featuring the top two teams from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba plus a host team from Kelowna.
The Falcons managed a 5-1 record at Western Canadians. That included a big win over the Manitoba Thunder which would later go on to defeat the Falcons for gold.
In the round robin game pitcher and all-around talent Joey Ages hit two home runs over the fence as the Falcons won 6-0.
Then in the first game of the playoffs the Falcons faced the Thunder again. And again, the Falcons hit a home run, this time a grand slam from Allie Brinton.
“There weren’t a lot of home runs in this tournament,” Albhouse said. “We were pretty excited, we thought that would clinch the win but they caught us.”
With the loss the Falcons played a consolation semifinal against Cloverdale Fury, with the winner advancing to the final. It was a rematch from the provincials where the Falcons defeated the Fury, where the latter won bronze.
“We were nervous, we had played a close game against Cloverdale but not this time.”
The Falcons took control and won 10-0 to advance into the final for a third and final rubber match against the Thunder.
Unfortunately the weather, and the depth of the Thunder’s talent, took their toll.
“Ten months of progression, training twice a week, it was great to see a lot of improvement in our players,” Albhouse said.
“Right from the get-go they were ahead. It was five days of ball in hot weather, and with the extra game, and playing a competitive team from Manitoba, we ran out of steam.
“At the end of the day, to be the second-best team in Western Canada this year, we’re happy with that. We had some really good pitching from Joey and Kayla Saulnier.”