While the 100 Mile N’ Hour U16 fastball team came up just short of winning the 2016 Western Canadian U16 Boys Softball Championships in St. Albert, Alberta on July 29-Aug. 1, they did accomplish the goal coach Reg Hooper had set.
Noting they placed fourth at the Westerns with most of the same group of players last year, Hooper says they were definitely looking to improve in the standings this year.
After winning gold at the Provincial Championships and the BC Summer Games, the local squad was looking to take first place at the Westerns to claim the trifecta.
Team manager Amber McNabb says the Western Championships was well organized and ran smoothly.
She adds it was a good experience for the boys.
“They got to see a better calibre of ball and it was good for them to see strong teams from other provinces. Every year they go, they have a great time.”
However, this year was different, McNabb explains.
“They kind of new what to expect and they knew the teams that were going to provide the best battles.
However, when they got there, they won by the mercy rule (ahead by five runs at the end of the fifth inning) in every single game leading up to the gold/silver championship game. That kind of surprised them.”
100 Mile N’ Hour U16 jumped out gate fast in game 1 and never looked back and they cruised undefeated throughout the robin-robin and the semifinal.
• Game 1 – 100 Mile knocked off Manitoba #2 9-1 by mercy rule after five innings. Mitchell Armstrong was the most valuable player (MVP) for 100 Mile.
• Game 2 100 Mile hammered Manitoba #1 17-3 by mercy rule after five innings. Logan Parent was the MVP.
• Game 3 – 100 Mile shut out BC #2 7-0 by mercy rule in five innings. Warren McNabb was the MVP.
• Game 4 – 100 Mile beat Saskatchewan 13-3 by mercy rule in five innings. Armstrong was the MVP.
• Game 5 – 100 Mile shutout Alberta 15-0 by mercy rule in the third inning. Tanner Hooper was the MVP.
• Game 6 – In this first playoff game, 100 Mile knocked off Saskatchewan 11-4 by mercy rule after five innings. (No MVP announced.)
That set up the championship game on Aug. 1 with 100 Mile going up against Saskatchewan – a team they beat handily twice in the tournament.
The local lads jumped out into a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning but Saskatchewan narrowed the gap to 3-1 in the fourth.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Prairie players scored a run to cut the lead to 3-2, but 100 Mile got two more runs to take a 5-2 lead going into the seventh and final inning.
Then it unravelled for the local lads as they gave up five runs and trailed 7-5 going into their last bats.
McNabb says they bobbled a few balls and Saskatchewan got a big hit into the gap that cleared the bases.
100 Mile still had a chance to tie, or even win, the game, but they went three-up-and-three-out to end the game.
They had to settle for the silver medals.
McNabb says the loss to Saskatchewan in the gold-medal was tough for the team because they had only lost once in the tournament.
“It wasn’t a double knockout format where a team has to lose two games to lose the tourney. I guess it just came down to who wanted it more and who was really going to fight for it.”
She noted 100 Mile left a few runners stranded on their bases when they couldn’t get them over the plate.
On the other side of the coin, the U16 girls teams went home with gold and silver medals.
“Basically it was a fun season – winning gold medals at the Provincials and Summer Games, and silver in the Westerns.”
However, she adds it was also an expensive season and most of the money for tournaments and travel come out of the parents’ pockets.
Bob Paddison Contracting Ltd. is the main sponsor and he covered tournament fees and pays for uniforms for the players.
As for next year, McNabb says more than half of the boys will be moving up to U18 next season.
Organizers will have to wait to see how many players will be coming out of the U14 team and then decide if there will be enough to form a U16 squad next year, or just move the remaining U16 players up to the U18.
Meanwhile the players, most of whom have been playing together since they were five years old, can savour the glory of this year’s run for the gold.