The Duncan RiverCats outdid their own expectations by placing second in the silver bracket at the provincial U12B softball championships in Maple Ridge last month.
Of the 16 teams in the tournament, the top eight advanced to the gold bracket and the bottom eight went on to the silver bracket. The RiverCats ended up in the silver side, where they played their way into the medals.
“We went over unsure what to expect,” RiverCats head coach Darrin St. Amand said. “We figured somewhere in the middle of the pack — eighth to12th.”
The RiverCats got off to a rough start with a 6-1 loss in their first game despite a 14-strikeout no-hitter by pitcher Kaliyah St. Amand. The team got another strong pitching performance from Emma Kruk in their next game, but ended up falling 10-1 to the eventual provincial champion Langley Extreme.
“The Extreme played 58 games this season, only losing one, and also had over 50 girls try out for their team, while we had 11,” St. Amand pointed out.
The following day, the River Cats lost 13-5 to the Coquitlam Classics. Chloe Blace had a hand in all of Duncan’s runs, knocking in three with a pair of triples and scoring a pair herself.
“Unfortunately, the rest of the team was just not cashing in our base-runners when chances came up,” St. Amand said.
The girls were ready to play later that day when they edged Prince George 9-8. The RiverCats held P.G. without a run in the bottom half of the last inning to lock up the result. Jillian Nydahl went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Anna Crossley came up with a clutch RBI single. Olivia Wing walked twice and scored twice.
Things went better for the RiverCats after they moved into the silver bracket. Their first game was a rematch of the district final, with Duncan facing Central Saanich. Once again the RiverCats prevailed, this time by a 7-6 score. Martie Kongus went 2-for-2 with a walk, while Nina Lionas was 2-for-3 with two singles.
That sent the RiverCats to the silver semifinal, where their offence finally clicked in a decisive 13-6 victory. Ella Stone and Carley Hardie both went 2-for-2, and Bella Anderton-Teasdale had a key walk to lead off the second inning, kicking off a five-run deluge for Duncan.
The RiverCats’ run came to an end in the silver final as they lost 7-0 to Kelowna in their third game of the day and seventh in three days.
“We simply ran outta gas,” St. Amand said. “Their pitcher was one of the stronger we had faced.”
The RiverCats finished with a 3-4 record, and second place in the silver bracket put them 10th of 16 teams in the tournament.
The coaches, including Duane Hardie and Brad Scafe, were pleased with the weekend results and are already looking forward to U14 competition next season.
“All the girls played solid ball throughout the weekend,” St. Amand said. “Our two pitchers, Kaliyah St. Amand and Emma Kruk, gave us exactly what was needed: quality innings — 20 and 13, respectively — throughout the weekend. Our two catchers, Carley Hardie and Ella Stone, battled the heat through seven games. The weekend gave us a tremendous amount of experience to build on for seasons to come.”