As the Sooke Bantam C girls warmed up for their first bats, coach Mike Kearney offered some encouragement, “Okay, first person to hit a home run gets an ice cream sundae.” Coach Kearney was looking to inspire his group of 15 and 16 -year-old players to an encore performance on Wally Thorne field in Duncan Friday night. Coming off the previous weekend’s gold medal win, Coach Kearney felt he needed a little extra motivation for his players. The plan Coach Kearney had, aside from the sundae, is the same plan every baseball coach has – get a lead and give his starting pitcher (Erin Kearney) a well-deserved rest. In doing so he’d give some experience to back-ups Kylee Anderson and Patricia Kelly.
As any coach will tell you, however, not everything always goes according to plan. With the game knotted at 1 in the fourth inning, starter Erin Kearney’s foot was still firmly planted on the pitcher’s mound.
“Yes, Erin’s my daughter, she led the way for us in Cordova Bay with 20 strikeouts and only one walk and if we can get the bats going tonight I’d like to give her a break and get the other tandem in here,” said a keen-eyed coach Kearney.
“These games leading up to the district tourney are makeup games that couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” Kearney continued. “We need to have everything going now so we can win the district tournament and that would mean our first-ever berth to the provincials in Chilliwack July 8-10.”
It’s now the top of the fifth. Both teams have added a few more runs but it’s still tied at three and no one has claimed the sundae, though a good bet would be Patricia Kelly who had homered four times the previous weekend.
The district tournament is played at Cordova Bay June 17-19, a double knockout and unfamiliar territory for the Sooke Bantam C girls. In previous years they have won only a handful of games at the district tournament but when pressed about the likelihood of winning the qualifier to the provincials, Coach Kearney said, “If the bats can get going like they did last weekend in the Cordova tourney we have a pretty good shot at moving onto the provincials.”
According to Coach Kearney the litmus test for the Bantam C’s would be a Peninsula team they hadn’t yet faced but would host on June 11. That test, alas, would be a convincing setback at the hands of the guests.
At that moment, however, the test for this Sooke team was to stay focused on closing out a resilient Duncan team. Sooke had led 7-4 going into the final inning but Duncan’s last bats had come alive. It was now 7-6 with the tying run on third and the winning run stepping up to the plate. With a ting of the bat and a slap of the glove the Sooke Bantam C girls fastball team walked away with another win, albeit closer than they, or the coach, would have liked but it was a win and their seventh in a row.