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Saanich softballers go down to the wire at provincial championships

Cordova Bay girls take bronze after back-to-back one-run losses
Players and coaches with the Cordova Bay U-15 girls softball team celebrate their bronze medal at the provincial C championships in North Vancouver last weekend. Pictured are (back row, left) coach Treana Clarke, head coach Doug Caul, Lauryn Gladstone, Ruby Jones, Sophie Caul, Kate McNicol, Naomi Young, Brooklyn Ball, coach Lisa Jones; (front left) assistant coach Kass Gibbs, Jenna Gibbs, Lucy Caul, Carys Clarke, Madeline Baxter and Kate Niedjalski. (Photo courtesy Mia Ball)

Cordova Bay’s 15-under girls softball team beat all the top-finishing squads at the provincial C championships in North Vancouver, but wound up taking the bronze medal.

That said, placing third in the 16-team tournament held was no disappointment, said head coach Doug Caul. The Saanich-based team twice came within one win of playing for the title, and were eliminated with a razor-thin 8-7 loss in an extra inning to eventual champion Kamloops on July 3.

“I’m super proud of our girls,” said Caul, whose team won gold in the South Island regionals. “We knew they were strong, but it was good to play other strong teams to see where we stood.”

While the one-run loss was tough for the players – it was Cordova Bay’s second straight following a 12-11 loss to Kelowna in a winner’s bracket game earlier Sunday – they felt they were as good as any team there, the coach said.

Cordova Bay was down 5-0 early on against Kamloops, but roared back with a late-innings charge to make it 6-6 and force the tiebreaker. “It was mostly base hits, but it was a fantastic pitching duel and a great defensive battle,” Caul said. Jenna Gibbs, Ruby Jones and Kate Niedjalski shared mound time for Cordova Bay.

The team looked impressive in the round robin to start the weekend, reeling off wins against Richmond (15-0), Kelowna (10-9) and Kamloops (9-6) before dropping a 12-5 decision to Prince George. The 3-1 record left them tied for top spot, but based on run differential they were seeded eighth for the double knockout playoff round.

Cordova Bay opened with a 14-4 mercy rule win over top seed Abbotsford on the Saturday, then downed Surrey Fleetwood 12-9 in the morning to set up the rematch against Kelowna. A win there would have put Cordova Bay into the final, but this time it was the Okanagan squad scoring a narrow victory.

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