Duncan’s Kaliyah St. Amand has helped Langford’s U17 girls softball team earn the title of Canada’s best.
St. Amand — a pitcher/outfielder — and the Langford Lightning won their age group at the softball nationals Aug. 17-21 in Montreal and, for a little extra flair, they did it by beating the team they’d lost to in the provincial final.
Falling to the Fraser Valley Fusion in the B.C. title game, the Lightning’s second place finish qualified them for the national tournament and they refused to let the opportunity pass them by.
The Lightning got on a roll early in Montreal, St. Amand said, and they never looked back.
They swept through a field that included Saskatoon, New Brunswick, Calgary, Vaughan, Winnipeg, Fraser Valley, and White Rock only to come face to face with the Fusion again when it mattered most. This time the national title was on the line and the Lightning were not going to be beaten. The final score was 8-2 for St. Amand and the Lightning.
Asked what the best part was, she said: “everyone would probably say winning, but for me it was the cheering as a team, and playing as a team, and coming out with the win in the end. I think our team really bonded,” she said.
Most of the team has been together for five years and it’s been a long journey of improving together. This year they played a staggering number of games for preparation, playing in big tournaments in both the U.S. and in Canada.
“We’ve played an incredible 105 games this year. So the girls have been extremely, extremely busy practising playing and travelling,” said coach Chad Bryden. “So it’s definitely a great reward for them for all the work they’ve put in. They’ve missed a lot of time with different things kids their age are doing. So it was exciting and rewarding for them to be able to win it and feel like all their hard work was worth it, really.”
The Lightning went 76-26-3 in their epic season, giving them all the experience they needed to come out on top at the end.
“Some teams were definitely a bit harder to beat, but as our season went along we found our ways to beat them,” St. Amand noted. “For us getting to nationals was insane. I have never been and it was the best experience. Before this team I hadn’t travelled much and now I have been to many, many places.”
Langford won the provincial championship last year and was set to go to nationals as the No. 1 seed from B.C., but the tournament got cancelled due to COVID, making this year’s win extra special, Bryden noted.
“I felt like it was a lofty goal for us to win the Canadian championships,” added the coach. “We just knew that we wanted to first of all qualify to get there, and then it was our goal to win.”
With files from Bailey Moreton