White Rock Renegades ‘95 pitcher Sara Groenewegen throws a pitch during last month’s Canadian Open. Groenewegen and her teammates will compete at nationals this month.

White Rock Renegades ‘95 pitcher Sara Groenewegen throws a pitch during last month’s Canadian Open. Groenewegen and her teammates will compete at nationals this month.

White Rock Renegades ready for nationals

A pair of White Rock under-18 teams leave Thursday for Montreal

The White Rock Renegades are at it again.

In what has become something of an annual summer ritual, the Renegades – one of Canada’s top girls fastpitch programs – will be well represented at national championships across the country this week.

A pair of White Rock under-18 teams – the ’94s and ’95s – leave Thursday for Montreal, after the ‘95s finished first and the ’94s fourth at provincial championships in Victoria, July 27-29.

The Renegades ’95 will be looking for their second straight national crown, after winning the U16 championship last year.

As a first-year U18 team, they’ll have their hands full, admits head coach Chuck Westgard, who led the White Rock Renegades ’91 team to four national titles in addition to last year’s win for ’95s.

“We’re a first-year team, so winning provincials, that was pretty rare,” he said.

In Victoria, White Rock went 4-0 through the round-robin portion of the tournament, beating Fraser Valley Fusion ’94, the Renegades ’94, the Nanaimo Diamonds and the host Victoria Devils.

The ’94-born Renegades, meanwhile, were fourth after the round-robin, with a 3-1 record. They defeated the Nanaimo, Fraser Valley and the Ridge Meadows Pride ’94, and in playoff rounds beat the South Surrey Thunder ’95 before losing to the younger Renegades 5-0. The ’94s rebounded with an 8-1 thumping of the Langford Rebels, but lost their next game, 7-5 to Surrey Storm ‘95.

In the finals, the Renegades ’95 beat Victoria 7-3.

The Renegades ’94 lost to Surrey Storm ’95 in the third-place game. And though they finished off the podium, the ’94s enter nationals as a “pro-rata” team – B.C. gets a fourth berth from Softball Canada due to the province’s large registration numbers.

Meanwhile, at the U14 nationals in Brampton, Ont., the Renegades ’98 will hit the field as the No. 1 British Columbia seed, after winning a provincial banner in Richmond in mid-July.

“The girls have had a really good season,” said Renegades ’98 coach Jim Neville.

Though there is a month between provincials and nationals, Neville doesn’t expect his team to show signs of rust.

“A bunch of our kids were playing in the BC Summer Games a few weeks ago, and did really well there, so they’re all ready to go,” he said.

The Surrey Storm ’98 will also compete, as the province’s No. 2 seed.

Both teams leave early next week for the tournament, which runs Aug. 15-19.

White Rock’s second U14 team, the Renegades ’99, wrapped up its season on the weekend with a fourth-place finish at Western Canadian Championships in Ridge Meadows.

Rounding out the Renegades’ contingent at nationals is the ’96-born team, which qualified for the U16 event – which begin Wednesday in Brampton, Ont. – after a fourth-place showing at provincials in Delta last month. Like their Renegades ’94 club-mates, they earned a pro-rata berth. The Delta Heat ’96 are also taking part in the U16 championship, which wraps up Aug. 12.

Should any White Rock club capture a Canadian championship, it will add to an already impressive list of national crowns.

“Every year, we pick up momentum, and we’ve now won more national championships than any other association in Canada,” said Renegades president Gregg Timm. “It’s a nice feather in everyone’s cap.”

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