Riley McLean

Riley McLean

Softball City date for squirts

What is turning out to be a season they’ll never forget is underway for the Sooke Squirt B fastball squad.

When head coach Len Sudlow accepted an invitation to drop by the Sooke News Mirror last week the team of 11 and 12-year-old girls was sporting a record of 17 wins and three ties – a tremendous achievement whatever the level or sport happens to be.

This is one of those situations where the chemistry just happens to be there along with several other important commodities like motivation, confidence, effort and talent.

Though Len would likely be quick to deflect any such suggestion, it’s fairly plain to see that the crew is also benefitting from decent coaching from the trio of Sudlow, Bruce Cumming and Mike McLean.

Len says the team is hoping to get in up to 40 games before calling it a season, and if things continue as they have to this point it’ll be a workload no one will complain about.

The way things work in the girls’ squirt-B level, 14 games are scheduled as league play while participation in various tournaments is arranged along the way. By the halfway point last week the Sooke girls had been rewarded with outstanding results in three tournaments, including a Ladner event mentioned in last week’s issue of the Sooke News Mirror.

The girls earned a similar result in a weather-cancelled tourney in View Royal the weekend before last, winning the three games they managed to complete. It was the same story this past weekend as the team kept its record unblemished by losses, with three more wins.

As is so often the case in minor athletics, familiarity breeds cohesion and a lot of the Sooke squirts have been calling each other teammates since playing at the “mite” level. By now the techniques are becoming more finely honed, the overall maturing process is making for some very good ball players.

The fact that Sooke seems to produce more than its share of quality fastball players has been well documented, but a legitimate reason for the phenomenon has not been universally accepted. A glance at the records over the past number of years demonstrates the success is far more than coincidental.

The records for male and female ball teams are outstanding, with many regional, provincial and even national achievements being piled up.

“I started when I was in grade two, so this is my fifth year,” said Riley McLean just ahead of a Saturday game versus Langford.

Riley showed that she’s not overly preoccupied with stats, indicating that as far as she was aware the team was doing pretty good. She said a highlight so far was beating a team from Vancouver a couple of weeks back in a tournament final.

“They didn’t know our name,” said Riley who plays first base, “they said, ‘Suck.’” Chances are they’ll get it right next time.

Mariyah Dunn-Jones is a pitcher/shortstop and was inspired to follow in her brother’s footsteps as a ball player.

“I’m excited,” said Mariyah about the team’s next trip to the mainland in a couple of weeks. For a season highlight she picked the same narrow win over the team from Vancouver.

These girls and their teammates are continuing a trend and could do so at every level they stay together for.

“I don’t know where it comes from,” said Len. “Some of the best (fastball) players in Canada have come from Sooke.”

The coaches and the 12 members of the team will be looking to make a worthy impression in their next big adventure – their early June trip to Softball City in South Surrey – the sport’s provincial Mecca, but first, the annual Finn Kennedy tournament this weekend in Sooke, with a total of six teams competing on the “B” side.

“What we preach is for the girls to be aware of where their strengths lie,” said the coach, “and do their very best with them. The girls are awesome and so are their parents.”

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