Oak Bay’s Tess Sawkins helped Team BC win the 16U Baseball Canada Championships in Nova Scotia last month.
Sawkins and Cowichan Valley’s Ella Duncan-Reda formed a formidable Vancouver Island duo on the provincial team, both as hitters and also as a pitcher-catcher battery.
Team BC charged through the tournament on Aug. 22-25, winning every game, including four shutouts. After rolling through the round robin, B.C. knocked off the defending champs from Quebec 5-1 in the semifinals, then crushed Alberta 6-0 in the gold-medal game for the province’s first title in nine years.
Duncan-Reda and Sawkins were integral to Team BC’s success throughout the tournament, but really stepped it up in the playoffs. Duncan-Reda slugged her first-ever, over the fence homer to score the first two runs in the semifinal against Quebec 1, while Sawkins had a dinger of her own later in the same game.
Sawkins then pitched the final to catcher Duncan-Reda, and held Alberta to five hits. As B.C. jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings, the game was never really in doubt, and the players just had to focus on keeping control.
“Going into the seventh inning, knowing we had the lead, we all knew we had to get three outs,” Sawkins recalled. “So we all zeroed in on getting those three outs.”
“It was great,” Duncan-Reda said. “It was really exciting.”
Team BC carried three catchers, but Duncan-Reda handled most of the work, catching 26 of 38 innings, with some time at third base as well. Coach Marty van der Loos praised her abilities in the tricky position.
Sawkins played for the Victoria Mariners this summer, one of two girls in the B.C. Premier Baseball League.
Duncan-Reda and Sawkins were also on the provincial team that won the 14U Western Canadian Championships last summer, and van der Loos expects them to be key players for many years down the road.
“We have a very good core for the next couple of years,” he said.
Duncan-Reda and Sawkins have been invited by a national team scout to attend a training camp in February 2020, which will be the next step toward making the national team.
“We’re very fortunate to have a lot of girls coming from this program to the national program as well,” van der Loos said. “We’re trying to get it out there, and being successful helps.”