Though their own seasons were at an end, three members of the South Surrey-White Rock Thunder played key roles in helping another club – the Nanaimo Diamonds – win a Western Canadian Midget B Fastpitch title.
Cassi McCulloch, a pitcher for the SS-WR Thunder ‘93 team, and two Thunder ‘94 players, Erin Donnelly and Cody Hibbert, were picked up by the Diamonds prior to the Western Canadian tournament, which was held earlier this month in Medicine Hat, Alta.
The three Thunder players were eligible to play because their own seasons were over. McCulloch’s ‘93 team actually finished higher than the Diamonds at provincials, finishing third to Nanaimo’s fourth-place showing, but did not register for westerns.
And it was her pitching prowess against the Diamonds in B.C. championships that convinced the Island squad she could help them out.
“We got to talking with the coach and he said, ‘your daughter really gave us a lot of trouble out there,’” said Steve McCulloch, Cassi’s father.
The Diamonds won the Western title with a 7-4 win over Saskatchewan’s Pilot Butte Storm in the championship game. They got down 4-0 early before battling back to win.
McCulloch, who pitched every second game for Nanaimo, got the starting nod in the final, and struck out the final batter to end the game.
While McCulloch excelled in the pitcher’s circle, Donnelly and Hibbert were outstanding in the batter’s box. Hibbert batted an astounding .700 during the tournament – in which Nanaimo went undefeated – and also had four home runs, while Donnelly hit better than .400.
The Diamonds were the first team to go undefeated at Westerns in 25 years.
– with files from Greg Sakaki, Nanaimo News-Bulletin