June 25th, 2024

Heat girls’ softball team wins provincial bronze

By Dale Woodard on August 13, 2021.

The Lethbridge U16 Heat girl softball team battled their way to a provincial medal.

They also battled the elements, but that didn’t stop them from bringing home the bronze medal at the D provincials last weekend in Edmonton.

Playing in the third-place game, the Heat downed Cold Lake 10-1 to win the bronze after narrowly missing a shot in the gold medal game.

However, Mother Nature showed up as another opponent for all the teams with delayed games heading into Saturday’s play.

“The tournament started on Friday and we got both of our games in,” said Heat head coach Tyler Fallwell. “We woke up in the morning to a pretty massive thunderstorm that started shortly after 9 a.m. I think they got eight minutes of the first game in, so it was delayed for the entire day. We played our first game probably around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. and we were supposed be playing in the morning. But they did a pretty fantastic job of getting the field ready with the fact that it has been so dry everywhere. The fields were able to soak up the moisture and they got it up and going and got it back on track.”

When the schedule resumed, the Heat nearly made the gold medal game, falling short in an 8-7 loss to Chestermere.

But with the bronze medal on the line, a strong pitching performance from Raquel Snideman and some big bats paced the Heat to a 10-1 win over Cold Lake.

“She did an excellent job for us in that game,” said Fallwell of Snideman in the third place game.

But after the COVID-19 pandemic that robbed them of last season, Fallwell said it was simply good to be back.

“Coming out of all the lockdowns and things like that and having these girls get together again, it was quite amazing to see, how they came together as a team,” he said. “With the last two years we’ve gone to provincials they were 1-3 in both those years. We had some pretty big expectations for these girls this year. There was a lot of talent on there and they have been together for a while. They pulled through. I think there were some nerves coming into those final games because they have never been there before.”

The positive vibes of being back on the field extended to the other teams as well, especially the Heat’s bronze medal opponents.

“They really befriended Cold Lake throughout the weekend,” said Fallwell, adding his team invited one of Cold Lake’s pitchers to pose in the Heat’s team picture after the bronze medal game.

“The camaraderie and the friendships that were made through the sport was really quite amazing. For some of the girls, this tournament was the first time they got to stay in a hotel in two years and the first time they got to go out for dinner. It was really nice”

What’s better, with the provincial age change to U17 next year, this Heat team will be back in 2022 to go for gold.

“Some of the girls on this team have been together since U12 and earlier,” said Fallwell. “Not only have they all become friends, they’ve grown together, too. They’ve learned to know what their teammates are strong at and where they can help them. So I have a core of five or six that have been together and it’s neat to see at the start of every year. With social media they talk throughout the year, but when you see them get on the diamond at this time of year or at the break, just to see the smiles on their faces and reconnecting and having fun in person again is really amazing.”

Due to getting back in action so soon after pandemic restrictions were lifted, the Heat only managed a few tournament games and some exhibition matches in Medicine Hat.

“We actually beat the Medicine Hat Thunder, who won the provincials above us (C level),” said Fallwell.

With their bronze medal secured and the knowledge they’ll all be back together next year as a U17 team, Fallwell figured his team is already looking to next year.

“There’s the excitement that they brought home the bronze,” he said. “Then there’s a period of mourning for a few days because they’re going to miss it, but I think they’re all ready to get right back out on the field and have the opportunity.”

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