The Northwest Stealers huddle up before their second game against Gordon Head. (Justin Kohlman photo)

Provincial stage for Prince Rupert athletes

Northwest girls softball team will look to be a mainstay at tournament after long awaited return

Prince Rupert softball players left their mark at the U-16 C Girls Provincials this weekend, ending the city’s lengthy drought at the tournament.

Six athletes were part of the Northwest Stealers squad, which also included girls from Terrace and Kitimat. Together they were able to put together a combined team to finally ensure the region had its own representation at the competition in Quesnel.

“Overall I’m very pleased with the performance from the girls,” Dan Lorette, head coach of the team said following the tournament. “They had a lot of successes. The girls fought hard and came together as a team.”

The Northwest Stealers walk into the opening ceremonies at the tournament in Quesnel. (Cheryl Feduniak photo)

READ MORE: Prince Rupert girls feature on a team of their own

The inaugural experience naturally had some hiccups as the Stealers took tough losses in their opening games, 7-1 to the Prince George Predators and 11-1 to the Gordon Head Wave. The girls started to find their bats as the tournament went on though, boosting their run count in 11-4 and 7-4 losses to the West Kootenay Rebels and Sooke Stealers.

“Our batting wasn’t as aggressive in the first few games, but in the last few that came alive as well,” Lorette said. “As we went along our confidence was building, and all the girls realized that they could play with these other teams.”

The girls saved their most exciting game for last, being narrowly edged out 9-8 by the Abbotsford Phantoms in the Silver Division playoffs on Sunday.

Quin Kohlman (#9) and Avery Ryan (#17) take part in the coin toss before their game against the Prince George Predators. (Justin Kohlman photo)

“Most of the girls will be returning next year. The building blocks are there now, we know what the goal is, and I think we can get there very quickly next year,” Lorette said of future prospects for the team.

“We’re very proud of them, and they have lots to be proud of with this being their first exposure to provincials.”

Prince Rupert’s own Jordyn Carter and Avery Ryan each earned a player of the game honour in the round robin stage, as selected by the opposing team. Carter grabbed her nod for her defensive work at shortstop in the game against Victoria side Gordon Head, while Ryan put in strong work on the mound as a pitcher in the match against West Kootenay. Ryan will be jumping up to the U-19 division next year, while Carter will be returning to the U-16 team.

Payton Colussi at the plate against the West Kootenay Rebels. The Rebels were the eventual winners of the tournament. (Alisha Kennedy photo)

READ MORE: MVP: Jordyn Carter, number one on the field and in class

In approximately one year’s time, Maple Ridge will be hosting the B.C. Summer Games. Lorette is looking to field a U-16 girls team for the Northwest region, and says local athletes should keep an eye on announcements from Prince Rupert Minor Softball for potential tryouts this summer.

Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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