Front row

U16 boys fastball bring home the gold

Two Sooke boys fastball teams played in the provincial championships in Surrey over the weekend

Sooke ended the season with a big bang this past weekend, with U16 boys taking home the gold and the U18 with silver.

The teams played at the annual Softball B.C. Provincial Fastball Championships at Royal Kwantlen Park in Surrey.

For the U16 Rod’s Dawgs, the competition began first thing on Friday, July 1, wrapping up just before 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Under the watchful eyes of coaches Neil Smith, Darrell Ell and Mike McLean, the boys played a total of four games in the tournament’s round robin.

The team triumphed in three, successively defeating teams from Richmond, Smithers, and Kamloops.

The medal round game was against Kamloops, when Sooke won the toss and had home team advantage.

“It was a tightly-fought contest, with Kamloops holding a 2-0 lead through most of the game,” said team manager Graham Arts.

“It was in the last inning that Sooke’s bats came to life, resulting in a final score of 3-2 for our team.”

As a result, the boys were rewarded with gold.

The boys also took the time to recognize long-time coach and mentor, Rod Nyberg, who passed away last fall.

In honour of Rod, the team was formally registered as Rod’s Dawgs. During the final cheer, the boys also made sure to include one to their friend’s memory.

“They were playing for Rod the whole time, said Sooke Fastball Association president Chris Bryant, adding that it was the dedicated training support and spirit from coaches that got the Dawgs this far.

“They had four coaches out on the field at every practice, that’s what allowed them to do that,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for a very deep training base, it would of been a different outcome.”

Bryant added that it was the coaches coming together and constructing highly specific training regiments to address the skill development required by each player.

“Their performance over this three-day tournament raised a few eyebrows in terms of how far Sooke’s teams have progressed,” he said.

The U16’s were just one of Sooke’s impressive performers however.

For the first time in a while, Sooke had its U18A boys team face off some of the toughest teams in the province, losing by just one round to Cloverdale’s U18 rep team.

That, in itself, is an amazing feat, noted Bryant.

“It’s nothing short of impressive. They finished their round robin, losing only once to the favoured team from Cloverdale, in itself, a very strong team.”

Cloverdale had already declared their entry into the nationals for U18 from B.C.

“Sooke came back … they had to climb back in and do a double knockout. It was very well played.”

Bryant noted that Sooke proved this year that it no longer is the underdog and that it means business.

With the fastball season now drawn to a close, Arts wanted to express his thanks for all those involved.

“The players would like to thank their coaches and parents for their support throughout the season, and also the Sooke Minor Fastball Association’s president Chris Bryant for his ongoing work to support them, and the sport,” he said.

For info, visit the Sooke Minor Fastball Facebook page.