Chilliwack’s U-16 fastpitch Stealers earned bronze in dramatic fashion at last weekend’s provincial tournament in Port Alberni.
The Stealers sailed into the tournament with momentum, fresh off a championship win at the district level. They faced four teams in the round-robin, starting with the Ridge Meadows Thunder.
Chilliwack’s momentum disappeared in a hurry with a 10-1 loss, but they bounced back nicely, trouncing South Surrey/White Rock’s Chicks with Bats in their second game.
Ashley Guthrie and Amanda Marshall smacked home runs.
At one point, pitcher Jamiee Fournier struck out nine straight batters in a 10-1 win.
But, despite a home run by Danika Rahnborn, a game three loss to the Port Alberni Blazers left them hanging by a thread heading into their final round-robin match.
With the top eight in the field of 16 teams making the playoffs, Chilliwack needed to beat the Parksville Rage by a lot to have any hopes of advancing.
The Stealers scored four in the first and 10 at the end, walking away with a 16-1 win. That was enough to get them into the knockout round as the seventh seed.
The Stealers faced the unbeaten Langford Lightning in the playoff opener. Chilliwack took an early 3-0 lead, with Mackenzie Johnson laying down a perfect bunt and Tricia Jensen, Brooke Cote and Maddison Atkins following with base hits.
Langford tied the game in the third, but the Stealers regained their lead in the fourth.
Marshall, Fournier, Johansen, Kiana Kelly, Taylor McDonald and Caitlyn Fedrau reached base as the Stealers plated two runs.
A defensive gem by Danaye Reinhardt kept Langford’s bats in check.
In the fifth inning, a base hit by Mercedes Schneider followed by a Guthrie home run gave Chilliwack a 7-4 lead.
Langford threatened to take it all away in their last at-bat.
The Lighting loaded the bases with two outs, then lifted a deep fly ball into center field.
Two Stealers converged on it.
Atkins and Johansen smacked into each other, toppled to the ground, and a hush fell over the crowd.
The silence was broken by the sound of giggling as Atkins stood up with the ball in her glove.
“Got it!” she yelled as her team stormed the field.
An 11-6 win over the New Westminster Royals in their next game guaranteed Chilliwack a top-three finish.
They finished with back-to-back losses to Ridge Meadows (9-1) and the Port Alberni (11-4).