It’s often said that defence and pitching win ball games, and that axiom proved true for the White Rock Renegades ’98 last weekend.
But you can add ‘patience’ to that list of winning traits, too, said head coach Jim Neville.
In the final game of the Canadian U16 girls fastpitch championships last Sunday in Brampton, Ont., the Renegades edged the Quebec Rebelles 2-1.
And despite the narrow margin of victory – and the fact that White Rock fell behind 1-0 early before battling back to win after a two-run fifth inning – Neville said he never found himself with the jitters in the dugout, as the team held on to the slimmest of leads in the biggest game of the year.
“No, not really nervous,” he said. “I thought we were fine. The girls had to hang on there for a few innings, but we were playing well.”
Neville was equally unconcerned when the Rebelles took an early lead, instead preaching patience to his team.
“We aren’t a team that usually gives up a lot of runs – we have good pitching, and we play pretty good defence – but with us, you sometimes just don’t know when you’re going to score. You just have to wait… you don’t know if it’s going to be in the first inning, or the fifth, but whenever it is, you just have to make sure we capitalize when you get the chance.”
The Renegades’ opportunity came in the top of the fifth inning, when they strung a walk and a few singles together to score twice.
The national title was the second in three years for the ‘Gades; the 1998-born team also won a U14 title in Brampton in 2012.
Neville said the win was especially nice because his squad had, in earlier tournaments this season, sometimes had trouble wining the last game.
“We’ve had a couple tournaments – the Canadian Open, and provincials – where we’d be undefeated until that last game, and lose, so it was nice to get one,” he said. “Those other tournaments are important, but this was the big one.
“Our goal all season long was to make it to nationals. This is the one that people remember. It’s hard to get here and even harder to win, and now that we’ve won it, nobody can take it away.”