Cloverdale Fury ‘01 is leaving Brandon, Manitoba with a gold medal after they won the final game of the U16 Western Canadian Championships on Sunday, Aug. 13.
“It was surreal,” head coach Correy Hepner said. “We didn’t know what to expect from the teams that were there, so we went into it basically blind.”
The softball championship featured nine western Canadian teams, many of which Cloverdale Fury had never played before.
“When you’re home … you kind of know what to expect,” Hepner continued. “You know what kind of pitching they have, what kind of batting they have.
“Every game we went into was like going into it blind, and just trusting to make the right decisions.”
Those decisions paid off. Cloverdale won five of their six round robin games, losing once in their final game. They played a seventh game, winning against the Strathmore Thunder 12-2, which sent both teams to the gold medal game.
“When we found out we were playing them again in the final, a little part of me was like ‘Oh, we’re going to do this,’” Hepner said. Cloverdale had won against Strathmore twice before the gold medal game.
In the end, Cloverdale won 5-1 against Strathmore.
“It wasn’t a dramatic finish,” Hepner said. The final out was a routine ground-ball-to-pitcher-to-first-base play, and it took the players a moment to recognize they had won.
“They were very excited, they all went running out,” she said. But, “the excitement wasn’t as it would be in a really close game,” she added. “It was a little bit of a delayed reaction.”
The Western Championship marks the end of a stellar year for the Cloverdale Fury ‘01. The team lost only five games throughout the season, including the one in the Western Championship’s round robin, and saw the team win five gold medals and one silver medal.
“They have an uncanny ability to remain calm,” Hepner said about the team’s success, “and the only thing I can think of that would make them remain calm is that they really have a lot of confidence and trust in each other.
“It’s hard to find that in a whole team.”
Now, the team has a bit of a break before tryouts begin again in September.