For the second consecutive year, the White Rock Renegades are senior women’s Canadian fastpitch champions, after beating the Whitby Eagles 6-3 Sunday in rainy Montreal.
“It was a really good weekend. Most of these girls have played together a long time, so it was a great accomplishment for them,” said White Rock coach Wayne King.
It was no easy victory, however, especially considering the final contest was the Renegades’ fourth of the day – they had to fight back through the loser’s bracket of the double-knockout tournament after losing their first playoff game.
“Good teams have to battle through tough times, through adversity, and we were able to do that,” King said.
After going 4-2 in six round-robin games, the second-seeded Renegades faced off against third-place Calahoo Xtreme (Edmonton), losing 7-4.
“It was a tough game. We played pretty good, but Calahoo just played great. They hit our pitching. They didn’t hit huge shots, but they just hit the gaps,” King explained.
“And I’ll be honest, after that, being in that loser’s bracket where it’s do-or-die, it was a real hard test for the girls.”
Prior to the win over Whitby Sunday, the Renegades got a measure of revenge over Calahoo, beating them 2-1 in semifinals.
Courtney O’Connor, playing second base, had the hot bat for White Rock, going 3-for-3 at the plate, with one RBI.
The winning run crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning when Kelsey Haberl singled in Kyla Myre.
Nicole Sidor pitched all seven frames for the ’Gades, striking out five while allowing just the single run.
Immediately after the loss to Calahoo, White Rock’s bats got hot as they thumped the Quebec Rebelles 9-2, with Sara Hopwood pitching.
And they followed that with an 8-1 win over Manitoba Smittys.
In that game, O’Connor went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and three RBI, while Renegades catcher Courtney Gill – who was named most valuable player of the playoff rounds – went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.
“She’s really our rock,” King said of his veteran catcher.
Sidor was again in the pitcher’s circle against Manitoba, allowing just two hits in five innings before the game was called on account of the mercy rule.
Hopwood pitched the Renegades to the title-game win over Whitby, a game that was called in the top of the seventh inning due to poor weather.
The Renegades had the chance to end of the game even earlier; they led 5-0 in the fifth inning and had the opportunity to expand the lead to 7-0 – thus ending the game with the mercy rule – but they couldn’t cash in the last two base-runners.
“Then Whitby scored three in their next at-bats and made it close again,” King said.
“But we responded with one more run after that… we bounced back.”
King was proud of the fact his team outscored the opposition 25-7 Sunday, and said he was already looking forward to next season, when the team would try for a third straight national title.
“As a coach, you look for that triple threat – good pitching, good hitting and defence. We have four good pitchers… and we hit the ball well, too.
“I can tell you, we’re going to do everything in our power to make it a three-peat next year.”