The West Kootenay Kodiaks competed at the U16 B Girls Fastball Provincial championship in Prince George on the weekend and despite a valiant effort came up just short of the podium.
With 18 teams vying for top spot in B.C., the Kodiaks were poised for medal contention after advancing to the playoffs with a 3-1 record in the round robin.
“It’s been a tremendous season for me,” said West Kootenay Kodiaks’ coach Robert Johnson. “It’s the most exciting team I think I ever had.”
The Kodiaks routed Delta Sunfire in their opening match 10-2 and followed that up with an 11-2 drubbing of the Coquitlam Classics. The West Kootenay team, with players from Salmo, Fruitvale, Montrose, Trail, Krestova, and Castlegar, then faced a tough North Shore Stars squad but emerged with a 3-2 victory.
Their only blemish in the round robin came against the South Surrey/ White Rock Thunder, who went onto repeat as the provincial champions. Although the game was close going into the late innings, the Kodiaks lost 11-4 to the Thunder in the final game of the round robin.
“We held them down, and they didn’t take off on us until the fifth inning,” said Johnson.
The West Kootenay team then faced the eventual semi-finalist ‘98 South Delta Invaders and dropped a close 4-2 decision in the first playoff match.
The loss would put them out of contention and in their final game would drop an extra-inning game to the Penticton Power 10-9 in 10 innings.
The Thunder would beat the ‘99 South Delta Invaders 9-3 in the final on Sunday.
The Kodiaks pounded out great results all year, finishing third at a tournament in Kelowna and at the Fourth of July Shootout in Spokane earlier this month, and attended the Canadian Futures Fastball tournament at Softball City in Surrey where the went 2-and-2 against the best teams in western Canada and the U.S.
“It’s been an awesome year, and we played nothing but ‘A’ ball in the States,” said coach Johnson. “And this is key to me, if you’re not playing below your competition and reaching, you’re never going to get there, or improve.”
Johnson also credits his coaching assistants, daughters Robyn Sofonoff and Emma Johnson, and trainer Maryann Gould for the team’s success over the season.