The fact that the 2004 Delta Heat have earned darkhorse status for this weekend’s U19A provincial championships is an indication of just how much work the girls rep softball team put in during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the Heat’s first crack at this age level with still two more seasons of eligibility. The 2002 White Rock Renegades are considered the favourites of the 14-team event that gets underway on Friday at London Park, while the 2003 Delta Heat and 2003 Surrey Storm are right on their heels.
The 2004s showed their progress with a semi-final appearance at last month’s Pride and Power Tournament at Softball City. The run was highlighted by a 10-7 round-robin victory over the eventual champion 2003 Storm. The run ended with a semi-final loss to their year older Heat counterparts. The impressive run did wonders for the players’ confidence moving forward.
“It gave our girls some hope where all the time and effort they have put in during COVID where they could have just packed their bags and mailed it in. They just worked their tails off,” said head coach Chris Ainge. “We have improved so much and they deserve so much credit for how hard they have worked. They keep coming out to practice. They keep busting their tails and the results are showing on the field. They have opened a lot of eyes.”
With no player boundaries, there can be plenty of movement at the rep level of fastpitch, yet the Heat’s roster has stayed pretty well intact over the years. That makes the team’s improvement even more satisfying.
“They are much the same group. They have put their heads down and work boots on. I am super proud of them,” added Ainge. “If the stars align for us this weekend maybe we can make some noise.”
The U19B Provincial Championships were held in Abbotsford last weekend where the 2003 South Delta Invaders finished second in the Silver Pool.