A trio of White Rock Renegades teams landed on the podium at provincial championships last weekend, bringing to an end a successful, if slightly abridged, softball season.
The association’s oldest team, the Renegades ’02 – coached by Ted Birdsall, Softball Canada’s reigning coach of the year – won gold at its provincial tournament, held in Richmond, defeating Surrey Storm ’03 5-2 in the gold-medal game.
The game “was a lot closer than the score might make it sound,” said Renegades association president Greg Timm, noting that the Storm had the bases loaded in the top of the last inning, with the top of the order due up to bat.
“We were happy to get out of that one,” he said.
Lindsay Bell, a longtime member of the South Surrey Thunder before joining the Renegades, pitched all seven innings for White Rock to earn the win.
Timm noted that the victory was a bittersweet moment for members of the team, because it was the last game the group will ever play together as they graduate from the youth softball ranks. A number of players have already spent one season playing at the collegiate level – or attending university remotely at the very least.
“It’s one of those anomalies in sports where you play your very best right at the very end,” he said, comparing it to Canada’s women’s national team, whose bronze-medal win at the Tokyo Summer Olympics earlier this month was followed quickly by a series of retirement announcements from players and coaches, alike.
The White Rock Renegades ’05 also found success at the provincial level last weekend, winning silver at the U16 tournament, which was held at Softball City.
The Renegades lost the final game 5-4 to the Langford Lightning.
“It was an excellent game… lots of chances back and forth, and the score changed a few times in the last inning,” Timm said.
“It was great to see a team from the Island win. Of course, you’re always hoping for the home team, but Langford was the team that came out of the winner’s bracket and dollar-for-dollar they were probably the best team the whole way through the tournament.”
The third White Rock fastpitch squad to end up on the podium last weekend was one of the association’s youngest, as the 2009-born Renegades placed third at U12 provincials in North Delta.
Timm said the bronze win for the young crew was “an extra bonus” because the association is more concerned with player development than wins and losses at that age.
“For us that’s a really good result because we take a long-term (view) when it comes to athlete development, and we don’t usually worry about, at the youngest ages, being super competitive – we focus on getting them to be top-end competitive (as they get older),” he said.
“At that age, we just focus on getting them to love the game, and learn and want to come back. We’re not worried about winning a world championship at 12 years old.”
In a non-pandemic year, podium finishers at provincials would advance to Canadian championships, but Softball Canada announced back in April that national tournaments were cancelled this year due to the ongoing pandemic. With no national events scheduled, Softball B.C. pushed its provincial tournaments back a few weeks – normally they are held in July – in order to extend the season as long as possible, considering the season started late as a result of provincial health restrictions.
Two more White Rock teams – the 2007s and ’08s – will play their provincial championship tournaments this weekend in Cloverdale.