The Duncan RiverCats were the favourites heading into the U12 B District Fastball Championships at Strawberry Vale last weekend, but apparently no one bothered to tell the teams from Victoria.
A week after they locked up the South Island league title, the RiverCats took a run at the district title, but it wasn’t easy.
The RiverCats opened the tournament on Saturday morning against Lakehill, the only team they had lost to during the regular season. Duncan led almost the whole way through, but gave up three runs in the top of the final inning to let their rivals back in. Unfazed, the RiverCats stayed strong and ended up escaping with a 6-4 victory. Mya Rosenlind pitched a seven-hitter, while Mary Murphy was 2-for-3 at the plate.
The Duncan girls were in a groove on Saturday afternoon as they put up 16 hits in a 19-3 trouncing of Langford. Murphy and Paiton Douglas were both 3-for-3, Anna Beauchamp was 2-for-2, Rylee Smith was 2-for-3, Emma Wright was 2-for-4, and Sierra Screaton went 1-for-2. Smith also pitched three solid innings to earn the win.
The RiverCats squared off against host Strawberry Vale in the semifinals on Sunday morning.
After falling behind 7-5, they battled back in the final inning to eke out an 8-7 victory. Bethany Brass went 3-for-3, Rosenlind and Murphy were both 2-for-3, and Ella Duncan-Reda and Brooklyn Lang were both 1-for-2, with Lang’s lone hit a home run.
Given another shot at the final, Strawberry Vale beat Lakehill, setting up a rematch for the championship.
The RiverCats got off to a slow start, falling behind 6-1, but they steadily clawed their way back, scoring two runs in the fourth inning, two in the fifth and four in the sixth to take the lead. That didn’t last, however, as Strawberry Vale tied the score in the seventh, forcing an extra inning.
Going by international rules, the teams started with a runner at second base in the eighth inning. Strawberry Vale’s runner ended up stranded as Rosenlind took the mound in relief of Smith and shut the door. That set up an opportunity that the RiverCats weren’t going to squander.
Lexi Macleod started at second base, and was immediately sent over to third base as Hailey Weremi put down a perfect bunt to get herself on first. Another bunt by Wright loaded the bases, and Smith walked to bring home the winning run and the district championship.
The title is the first for a Duncan fastball team since the U16 Dragons, also coached by Kevin Olender won their league, then took gold at districts, the Canadian open and provincials in 2012. This year’s U12 B team will head to Richmond for the provincial tournament on July 17-19.