White Rock Renegades ‘99 infielder Patricia Dunn makes a catch during the 2015 Canadian Open.

White Rock Renegades ‘99 infielder Patricia Dunn makes a catch during the 2015 Canadian Open.

White Rock Renegades start strong at fastpitch nationals

Pair of White Rock squads aiming for weekend playoff rounds at U18 national championships in PEI.

A pair of White Rock Renegades squads are off to good starts at U18 Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championships this week in Charlottetown, PEI .

Both squads – the Renegades ’98 and Renegades ’99 – are among the top teams at the 21-team tournament, which began Monday.

The 1998-born Renegades – who won a U18 B.C. championship earlier this summer – sport a perfect 4-0 win-loss record through the first few days of action, while the younger ’98s are 3-1, with the only blemish on their record coming Tuesday morning, when they lost a 4-2 decision to the No. 1 team from Manitoba, Smitty’s Terminators.

“It was a hard-fought game and could have gone either way,” said Renegades ’99 head coach Mark Dunlop.

“Manitoba made a lot of great defensive plays to hold off our offensive attack.”

With both teams rolling – and with each having just two round-robin game left – it seems likely that both White Rock squads, as well as B.C.’s third-seed, the Delta Heat ’98, will finish inside the top 9 Friday, thus advancing to the weekend’s playoff rounds.

“We fully expect to be in the top nine come Friday,” Dunlop said.

The Renegades ’98 – coached by longtime Peninsula softball coach Arnie Groenewegen – did not allow a run through the first four games of the tournament, opening with a pair of shutout victories on Monday. First, the ‘Gades defeated the host team, Charlottetown’s Remax Lady Ravens, 3-0, before moving to 2-0 later in the day with a 15-0 clubbing of the Regina Kaos.

On Tuesday, White Rock made it three shutouts in a row with a 12-0 victory over New Brunswick’s Moncton Rebels, and Wednesday morning defeated Manitoba’s Central Energy 5-0.

The ’98s offensive production has come from a variety of sources, as  five players have at least four hits. Jewel Gingras leads the team with seven, including a double and triple, while Melissa Groenewegen has a triple and the team’s lone home run. She also leads the team with five runs-batted-in.

Three different pitchers have toed the rubber for White Rock, all with success – the trio of Lauren Gaffney-Gomez, Katie Humhej and Elizabeth Murphy have combined for 30 strikeouts in 22 innings, and given up just four hits.

Humhej had one of the tourney’s most impressive performances in the first game, pitching six of seven innings against the host Ravens without allowing a hit, while striking out 11.

The Renegades ’99 have nearly equaled the success of their older teammates, having allowed just four runs – while scoring 36 – through the first four pool games.

White Rock opened with a 17-0 win over Newfoundland’s Marina Shores Selects Monday, and followed that with a 10-2 win over the Saskatoon Platinum Selects later the same day.

On Tuesday, the ’99s lost to the Terminators but rebounded that evening with a 7-0 shutout of No. 1 New Brunswick seed, the Memramcook Valley Heat.

The ‘Gades were to wrap up their round-robin schedule Thursday afternoon, against Ontario’s Guelph Gators – undefeated themselves through four games – but the game was played after press deadline.

Playoff games will be staged throughout the weekend, with the national championship contest set for Sunday afternoon.

A third White Rock team – the Renegades 2002 – will vie for a national title beginning next week, when they travel to Winnipeg for the U14 Girls Canadian Fastpitch Jamboree, which runs Aug. 17-21.

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