By Jensen, Randy on July 11, 2019.
The Heat will be cranked up twice as much at Softball Alberta provincials next month in Medicine Hat and it won’t be just because of the summer weather.
Rather, that double dose of Heat will come from the U12 and U14 girls softball teams when the all-Alberta takes the diamond Sunday through Tuesday.
For U12 Heat catcher, third baseman and shortstop Lena Loomer, this year will be the 10-year-old’s second trip to provincials after just finishing out of the medals last year.
But for teammate Jocelyn Lejal, this is not only her first provincial championship, but her first season of softball.
“I played baseball before,” she said at a team practice earlier this month. “It’s better than baseball because I’m not the only girl.”
For Loomer, this year’s championship is the chance to go back and hopefully place higher.
“I’m really excited and hopefully we do better this year.”
With a silver medal at a tournament in Stettler earlier this season, the duo and the rest of their Heat teammates have already set themselves up for success down the road in Medicine Hat
“We did pretty well,” said Loomer. “We won all of our games except for the gold-medal game. We got a medal and we went to extra innings.”
That test against stronger teams will only benefit the Heat once the first pitch is tossed in Medicine Hat.
“It was really fun and we got better playing with that because we were against easier teams before that and then it was a bit of a challenge,” said Lejal.
A developmental phase in Heat’s softball program has allowed the program to thrive in the past few years, said Heat co-coach Beth Moulton, who is joined on the team by coaches Jen Drader and Wendy Siegmund.
“This is the third year we’ve had a group that we have been able to take to provincials and any kind of competitions. Usually, it has just been league-based play, but now we’ve had tryouts and we have two divisions in U12 and U-14 who have both qualified to go to provincials.”
“So I’m hoping we’ll be competitive this year. We’ve really been working on it. We’ve had the opportunity to have indoor training the last couple of years, so we’ve really built up on our pitching and all of that year-round training that I think has made us more competitive.”
Members of the Heat take part in different league play in May and June, said Moulton.
“They’re so committed that we also have extra practices for just the provincial teams that is predominantly on the weekends, usually once or twice on the weekends.”
The Heat also competed at a tournament in Elkford at the beginning of July for a final tune-up.
After making the top-four last year in Edmonton, Moulton would like to see her team advance even further.
“I think we tied with two or three other teams for fourth, but that was pretty exciting for us. I think if we made it to the semifinals, then the finals would be wonderful.”
Moulton has similar hopes for the U14 Heat as well.
“Because they’re a step up from us in the age, I think their skills are much more refined. They definitely have really good bats and good field sense. I would hope they make it to the gold or bronze games and into those finals. They had some pretty strong finishes at the last two or three tournaments, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Ditto, said Lejal.
“We’re really excited and I hope we do really well.”
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