Trail Steelers strike gold

Warfield’s Haley Park was the site of the U12C Regional Fastpitch championship on the weekend

Warfield’s Haley Park was the site of the U12C Regional Fastpitch championship on the weekend, and the host team Steelers did not disappoint, winning the title in convincing fashion.

The Trailer Steelers steamrolled the competition by ending each one of their five games via the mercy rule, including a 10-2 victory over Prince George Jr. Panthers in the final on Sunday at Haley Park.

“We had a great, great weekend,” said Steelers coach Pam Caron. “The whole weekend we never had a down game, they never get stressed out, they never even know what the score is.”

The Steelers jumped out to a great start in the final game when Tessy Brandt struck out the side in the top of the first, then received ample run support with a five run first inning, and a commanding 5-0 lead that the Steelers would not relinquish.

After the Jr. Panthers got one in the top of two, back-to-back doubles in the bottom half by Clarice Tuai and Elle Mayer would set up another three run inning.

Prince George would rally in the third, but with runners on first and second base, and a full count on the batter, Alyssa Piva would catch the Panther hitter looking at strike three for the third out.

Each time the Panthers threatened the Steelers would rise to the occasion and stymie a potential threat.

Again in the fourth, the Panthers had their lead-off batter on base, but catcher Kady Stajduhar would gun her out trying to steal second, and Brandt, who re-entered the game, would then strike out the next two batters to dash the hopes of the visiting Panthers.

Mayer would top it off it in the bottom of the fourth inning with a home run blast that sailed over the left fielder’s head to make it 10-1 Trail.

The Panthers would score a run in the top of five, but Steeler pitcher Piva would bear down and get the final batter out on strikes for the seven-run-rule victory.

Having played together for the past three years, Caron says the team chemistry and dedication is what sets this roster of 9- to 12-year-old girls apart from the other teams.

“The group just really gels. They are from a whole bunch of different schools; they’re Grade 4, Grade 5 and Grade 6’s and they all just really gel together, and they are so keen.”

The team started the tournament with a 20-5 pounding of the Kamloops Dynamite, before shutting out Enderby 17-0.

The Steelers pitching was unhittable all weekend, as coaches Caron, Shannon Ballarin, and Heather McKinnon mixed in a steady dose of right and left handed hurlers to keep the opposition off balance.

In the final game of the round robin, the Steelers defeated Westside by a score of 19-4, to secure first spot overall and a bye to the semifinal Sunday. In the noon semi, Trail humbled Castlegar Lightning 11-1 to earn its way into the final against Prince George.

It was a dominating performance from the Steelers, a  house league team that was completely unfamiliar with the visting opponents.

“I didn’t know what Prince George or Enderby, kind of knew Kelowna, but hadn’t seen Kamloops, and hadn’t seen Cranbrook either, so wasn’t sure what was out there,” Caron added. “I kind of figured we’d do pretty good but didn’t know exactly where (we’d place).”

The team has also been invited to the U12B provincial fastpitch championship after a gold-medal performance at the Summerland tournament in May.

“The B’s is a little different, we’re probably going to be lower half, but it’s going to be really good for our girls to see some fast pitching.”

The U12B BC Fastpitch Championship goes in Sicamous July 12-14.