Although they just missed out on making it into the championship round at the Under 14 Canadian Girls’ Fast Pitch Championship in Montreal, the Prince Albert U14 Aces proved that they belonged with the top teams in the country this past week.
“The competition was great from top to bottom and almost every team there had a chance to be among the 12 that ended up vying for a medal,” Aces coach Curtis Olsen said.
“There were a couple of games that didn’t quite go in our favour score wise, but we were right there with every team that we played against. The girls executed and play hard through the ups and downs that you go through in a tournament, and I’m really proud of what they did not just this week but during the whole season.”
The Aces finished off their round-robin play Friday with a 3-2 record, as they dropped an 8-1 decision to the British Columbia based Tri-City Titans and followed that up with a 5-3 win over the B.C. Thunder.
“We had a tough start to the day but we had a nice solid finish in our last round-robin game,” Olsen said.
“We were able to get some runs early and our defence was great from start to finish. The way the girls played against the Thunder was exactly what we’ve seen out of them throughout the year.”
In the consolation round Saturday, the Aces prevailed in a wild 9-8 game against the Saskatoon Hustlers to make it to the semifinal, where they lost 7-5 to the Port Perry Angels from Ontario.
The Angels would go on to win the bracket in a 5-4 affair against the Thunder.
“We were able to bat around in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Hustlers and we almost got enough runs on the board that the game would have ended,” Olsen said. “The Hustlers almost tied things up in the following inning, so that made for an exciting finish. In the end though, our girls were able to shut things down and get the win.”
“We got down early against Port Perry, but the team never gave up. It was their last game of the season and they wanted to finish things out on a strong note.”
The Fraser Valley Fusion of British Columbia won the overall title in a 4-3 thriller over the Smitty’s Terminators from Winnipeg.
Looking towards next season, six players from this year’s Aces team will be moving up to the U16 ranks and seven players will be coming back for another season with the U14 program.
“I think the biggest lesson that the girls can take away from the nationals is just the amount of preparation you need to have at an event like that,” Olsen said. “There’s no easy game out there and you have to bring a strong effort every time out.
“It’s a long and grinding week, but it’s a memorable experience and I think it will leave a positive impact for the girls.”
Meanwhile, the Prince Albert U16 Aces posted a 2-6 record at the Under 16 Canadian Girls’ Fast Pitch Championship in Winnipeg.
They picked up a 9-8 win over the Red Deer Rage in consolation round play Saturday before dropping a 6-5 affair to the Victoria Devils.
The White Rock Renegades of British Columbia won the gold medal by a score of 3-2 over the Vaughan Vikings from Ontario.