Sooke’s U16 girls kicking up dust at Art Morris Park last week during their game versus Oak Bay’s Carnavaron.

Fastball girls turn up the heat at Art Morris Park

Sooke's minor fastball U16 girls making good progress towards the Districts.

To anyone not from around Sooke, the scenery and fastball action going on at Art Morris Park last Thursday evening seemed like it was out of a feature film; sun trails bathing green fields, crowds cheering by the sidelines, and all the dust getting kicked up in the air as the U16-C minor fastball girls faced off — and won — versus Oak Bay’s Carnarvon team.

Some may even call that epic.

To everyone else though, it’s just good ol’ fastball; hot dogs, friends and family, sunshine, and a lot of batting action on the diamond. And there will be more to come as the girls seem to have no problem with keeping their hats on tight and their eyes firmly on the ball.

”We know how to turn it on. We’re first place out of an eight-team league,” said head coach Mike Dodd. “The girls are enthusiastic, very attentive and pretty aggressive too, which is good.”

Dodd added that the team currently has seven wins and two losses, putting them first place in an eight-team league. Dodd himself has been coaching fastball for about 15 years — he says he took a break from coaching a few years ago, but couldn’t resist the itch to do it again.

“It’s a faster game, games are an hour-and-a-half, seems like you can keep the interest level longer as a coach,” he said. “There’s a lot more strategy involved in fastball, or what we call ‘small ball’, with bunting and stuff like that.”

With the Provincials slowly approaching, Dodd said the team is very much looking forward to the new challenges.

“We have about eight or so more league games, some exhibition games, some tournaments, they all get you prepared for the Districts,” he said, adding that all eight teams will participate in the Districts playoffs, regardless if a team wins or loses. Out of that, the teams qualify and move on to the Provincials.

“Districts are mid-June, then there’s about a three-week layover, and then the Provincials are the long weekend of July in Kamloops. They’re pretty stoked,” Dodd said.

He hopes the number of minor fastball players in Sooke stays strong, considering his U16 girls team had to play boys teams on several recent occasions due to the low number of participants. He’s optimistic though, considering the history fastball has here in Sooke and the positive impact it has on the community.

“Anybody who’s been in the game of ball and their family years ago, they love coming to the park, it’s just that kind of atmosphere; you get your hot dog and enjoy the show.”

Here’s a quick summary from coach Mike Dodd himself, explaining some of the action from last Sunday’s game in Duncan versus two of the local teams up there:

“The first game went the full seven innings with Daniela Hoolaeff pitching her best game of the season so far. Taylor Clawson and Tanya Fogarty shared the catching duties and both players provided aggressive base running.

“Paiton Cameron and Hailey Steele provided several defensive highlights, and Olivia Carello was a brick wall on defence.

“This game was an exciting one, with the Sooke bats coming alive in the late innings to rally from a 2-1 deficit, and win 6 -2.

“In the second game, the girls fought hard, but playing a second game in the Duncan caught up with our girls and Duncan prevailed in a close one.

“Jenna North and Emma MacDonald provided solid line drives, and solid base running to start a middle inning rally, which got the game close.

“Brianne Barton and Anya Nielsen Rhoads shared four strong innings of pitching, and first year players Jessica Graham and Olivia Lessard provided steady defence in the field.

“A little less heat and one more inning and the girls may have pulled the second game out.

“The girls are looking for some redemption at this coming Thursday’s game in Sooke, against a Duncan team that handed them one of the two losses.”