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The Hot Corner

Exciting fastball played at Bantam B Provincials

By Barry Williams
July 19, 2004

      Although the championship game of the Alberta Bantam B Provincials held in Olds this past weekend was a bit lopsided, fans were treated to some exciting games as most were won by a slim margin.

     With a potent offensive attack, strong pitching and excellent defensive play, Lacombe defeated Strathmore 11-1 in the Gold Medal Game. Because of the ten run difference, the game was called after five innings of play.

    Lacombe went through the tournament undefeated winning all three of their games in the preliminary round robin and two in the play-offs.

     Because the competition in the eighteen team tournament was extremely tough, Lacombe Head Coach, Grant Harder, was a bit surprised his team won the provincial championship.

     "I knew we had a competitive team but I didn't expect to be in the championship game," Harder said.

     Besides playing competitive ball in Red Deer, Lacombe participated in several tournaments to prepare for the provincial championship tournament.

     "At the beginning of the season, the girls were committed in playing in the provincial tournament and we set a goal at reaching the medal round at the provincials," Harder added.

     "Our entire team was a bit surprised that we made it to the championship game," noted Harder.

     According to Harder, pitching was the difference in winning or losing a game at the provincials.

      "I felt our pitchers did an excellent job in every game we played. They remained calm throughout the entire tournament and never got rattled," Harder added.

      The concept in provincial play has been changed by Softball Alberta allowing teams to enter the provincial tournament on an open concept. Previously teams qualified for the provincial championships by winning their zone in round robin play. Now teams can enter provincial play without qualifying, all they have to do is to register with Softball Alberta. Most coaches like the format in place now as it provides another outlet in letting teams play in the provincial tournament.

     "The format being used now is excellent. I like the open concept because it gives teams the opportunity to experience provincial play without qualifying," added Harder.

      Although the Olds Pistols failed to advance to medal play, the players can still hold their heads high.

    "Our players were focused on the games and were trying to win every game," said Pistols Coach, Doug Ford.

     "I am very proud of the way the girls handled themselves on and off the field," said Ford, noting the players assisted with the tournament by selling 50/50 tickets and assisting the organizing committee.

       "This tournament was an interesting experience for the players because it showed them there is more to organizing a tournament than just playing in it," Ford added.

       Like most of the coaches at the tournament, Ford likes the idea of having an open concept of having teams play in the provincials without qualifying for the event.

       "It's a little different for me but what I think what this open concept does is it allows teams which may not qualify for the provincials  the opportunity of playing in and experiencing the atmosphere of a provincial tournament," Ford noted.

       Off the field, Ford was extremely pleased with the way the tournament was ran and praised the organizing committee.

     "It was an interesting experience hosting this tournament," noted Ford.

     "A lot of volunteer work went into this and the organizing committee should be proud of their efforts," said Ford, indicating Softball Alberta was pleased with the tournament.

      In fact, Ford indicated the entire town rallied behind the tournament as over seventy businesses helped out in sponsoring the event.

      Although some of the Pistols had the opportunity of playing in the Pee Wee provincials last year, Ford believes the experience of playing in a provincial tournament in their home town has made them better ball players.

     "About half the team will be moving up to Midget next year so there is a good nucleus of players returning to the Pistols next year," said Ford, indicating the Pistols will be very competitive next season.

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