The White Rock Renegades had hoped to leave Softball City with a Women’s Elite title. They didn’t get it, losing to Team Mexico in the playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
There were a lot of teams that impressed in the Women’s Elite division this week. The California A’s didn’t lost a game all tournament en route to a gold medal. Great Britain looked good with Silver, and Team BC and Mexico had their moments.
And, of course, the White Rock Renegades were right in the thick of it.
“I thought we did exceptionally well,” said second base Courtney O’Connor, who admitted that this year’s Renegades team didn’t have the time or a full year to put into their program’s preparation for the Open. “A lot of us are now into full-time jobs, coaching, extracurriculars, and we don’t have a lot of time to develop our own skills.”
O’Connor said the Renegades “got lucky” in a few of their games, and said some bounces went their way. Still, White Rock won some great games, defeating St. Louis Extreme elite 11-10 in what might have been the game of the tournament, and beating Team Mexico in extra innings in their first meeting.
Saturday’s playoff loss to Team Mexico isn’t forgotten, despite the fact it came on the ninth straight day of play.
“It takes a lot out of you,” O’Connor said of the marathon-like build of the tournament. “At the end, you’re starting to rely on your bats more than your pitchers.”
It’s a grind, yes, but for many players it’s the event of the year.
“It’s the best tournament of the season,” said Team Canada’s Kelsey Haberl. “Everyone you know is there. Everyone I played against or with is there. I love that tournament. You live and breathe softball for a week.”
“It’s amazing,” said 17-year-old pitching phenom Jocelyn Cater, with Team Canada and the White Rock Renegades. “I played at this tournament first at a club level while I was growing up, and I always looked up to Team Canada and Team USA as really big role models.
“As one of the younger players (still), it really helps me to see the younger players now and know exactly how they feel, because I was right in that position.”
O’Connor and the Renegades feel no different.
“You get to watch a lot of great ball and see a lot of great players you don’t normally get to see, since we don’t get a lot of softball on TV up here,” she said. “Seeing a lot of friendly faces at the park, it’s a who’s who… it’s a great social atmosphere.”
As for the Renegades, themselves, the team has been led by the same core group of players for a number of years, which includes O’Connor, catcher Courtney Gill, and Jessica Barclay at first base. That group has been together for several years, and they say playing in Canada’s biggest softball tournament in their hometown is nothing less than perfection.
“It’s pretty much been an honour to wear a Renegades uniform,” she said. “To be able to play with the same core group of players that I have been around for the past six, seven years. They’re my closest friends.
“With the games, as much fun as it is to play, it kinda created a web of friends and met a lot of great people along the way. It’s really a family or community.”
– by Kolby Solinsky