One year after being bridesmaids to their older, Canadian-championship winning teammates, the White Rock Renegades ’99 are national champions themselves.
And just like last year, when the Renegades ’98 defeated the ’99s for top spot, this year’s gold-medal game at U18 Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championships was also an all-White Rock showdown, with the Mark Dunlop-coached ’99s beating Renegades 2000 4-1 in the final game Sunday in Lloydminster, Alta.
“It’s amazing. I don’t think that happens too often, (for one association) to go back-to-back at a level like U18 nationals,” Dunlop told Peace Arch News.
“The girls were just so focused. They had unfinished business after last year, and they went out and finished it.
“And the Renegades 2000, they had a great tournament and played very well. It should bode well for them next year.”
In Sunday’s championship game, the ’99s got off to an good start early, and took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, after a pair of walks and a wild pitch put leadoff hitter Kate Fergusson in a position to score on a Tori Peterson single.
“We showed lots of patience at the plate, and were able to turn it into a run,” Dunlop explained.
The one-run margin stayed intact for much of the low-scoring game, with the older Renegades not able to add to their lead until the fifth frame, when an Alex Ogg single plated Megan Parno and, one batter later, a double from Megan Smith scored two more runs.
The Renegades 2000 finally got on the board in the top of the sixth, and in dramatic fashion, no less, courtesy of a Mackenzie Quinn solo home run.
In addition to her run-scoring single in the first inning, Peterson was also credited with the win in the pitcher’s circle. Peterson lasted the full seven innings for the victorious squad, allowing just one run and six hits while striking out three.
“She threw amazing for us,” her coach said. “We’re pretty familiar with the (2000s), so we know how to pitch to their hitters, and Tori just hit her spots all game.”
Peterson’s counterpart in the other dugout, 2000’s pitcher Taylor De Adder, also went the distance, striking out five while allowing four hits and four runs.
The 1999-born Semiahmoo Peninsula fastpitch squad – who were B.C.’s No. 2 seed in the tournament, after losing the provincial final to the Victoria Devils late last month – went a perfect 10-0 in Lloydminster, winning seven consecutive round-robin games last week, and then winning three playoff tilts over the course of the BC Day long weekend.
Sunday’s final was the second time in as many days that the two White Rock teams had met. On Saturday, the ’99s won a 5-2 contest, which propelled them into the next round, and forced the 2000 team to win a hard-fought tilt over Ontario’s No. 1 seeded Waterloo Ghost Gold on Sunday morning to advance to finals.
Though they cruised through their 10-game schedule undefeated, Dunlop said it was an early round-robin game against Victoria – who beat White Rock in B.C. finals – that set the tone for his club’s week.
“We won 7-1 and that really put the stamp on where we were going,” he said.
“I was probably more at ease than I’ve ever been as a coach (on the weekend) – I just fed off the girls’ confidence.”
Renegades ’99 first baseman Kate Fergusson earned dual top-player honours at the conclusion of the tournament – she was named MVP of both the round-robin and also the playoff rounds. In seven round-robin games, the leadoff hitter hit .625 and had nine runs-batted-in, 11 runs scored and three stolen bases. In the playoffs, she hit .571 and led the team with five runs scored.
Megan Smith was also named a tournament all-star in the outfield, and Tara Coble earned an all-star nod at second base.
The season now over, Dunlop pointed out that 11 of the team’s 14 players will now move on to play softball at the university level – and another will play university volleyball.
“It was a good way to end their (Renegades) careers,” he said.
“At the start of the year, I told them there’s no better way to end things than with a win, and they did it. They’re a very close team – there were a lot of tears walking off the field on Sunday.”