Even though his team was trailing half way through the championship game of the BC Summer Games U-16 softball tournament, coach Ryan Praticante knew the players had the skill and mental toughness necessary to comeback and win.
“I told them that we’re a good team, and we can win this game,” said Praticante, speaking about the game’s final three innings. “The kids did a great job of conquering adversity, and it was a big mental win.”
The Zone 7 softball team — which featured Prince Rupert players Gavin McNiece and Avery Lorette — went 5-0 for the tournament to take home gold in the 2018 summer games which took place in Cowichan. The North West team cruised through their opening three games, beating Prince George 10-4, Thompson-Okanagan 9-1 and Thompson River 15-0 before winning a tight back-and-forth game against Cariboo North East 8-7 in the tournament semi-finals.
Praticante said his team was especially tough in the semi-final game where they were able to rebound from a four run deficit in the bottom of the game’s final inning to get the victory.
Prince Rupert’s Avery Lorette scored the games tying run, sprinting home from second base off an infield hit to level the score 7-7. The team’s leading hitter, Tom Dame, followed that effort with a single to right field to bring in the winning run for Zone 7.
“We were tired and the heat was getting the best of us and it didn’t look good,” said Praticante. “But the boys pulled through.”
In the gold medal game, Zone 7 found themselves trailing Thompson-Okanagan 3-2 at the start of the fourth inning, but once again showed resolve, scoring two runs to take a 4-3 lead into the fifth. Lorette helped to drive in an insurance run at the bottom of the fifth and the team held Thompson-Okanagan scoreless to bring home gold.
Praticante said even though the team’s coaches thought they stood a good chance of winning the tournament, it was still a surreal feeling to bring the victory back to the North West.
“It’s huge, the zone we’re in, we don’t do this very often so the kids are pumped,” he said. “It’s a huge team victory in total this weekend.”