The Mission Sliders U14 girls softball team is heading to provincials after capturing gold in the District 14 playdowns over the weekend.
The Sliders took down the top team from Maple Ridge in two straight games in the final to clinch gold and punch their ticket to provincials, which occur in Port Alberni from July 5 to 7.
It’s the second straight year that the Sliders have qualified for the U14C provincials, as last year the team finished 13th in the province.
Coach Andrew Hale said there is a core group from that team back for another crack against top teams from all over B.C.
“We had a tough draw last year,” he said. “But this year we played a more aggressive schedule, including games against some talented teams from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland so I think the girls will be more ready.”
Hale has been involved in some sort of coaching or management capacity with the core group of six or seven girls for the past few years, and said this year was an excellent one.
“We went undefeated in league play and won silver medals at tournaments in Peninsula, South Surrey and Langley,” he said. “The girls have played really well.”
He said key returning players to the team include pitchers Laney Manson and Jolena Mazzocca, catcher Anna Hale, shortstop Ashley Rourke, Shaylin Rondpre at first base and fielders Mackenzie Pearson and Makaela Munroe.
Some of the key new talent include Gabbie Schwalb, Jaya Deol, Shayna Sparrow, Bella and Savannah Stewart, Emilie Munro, Jaci Reheaume and Emma Quick.
Hale also said assistant coaches Ray Rourke, Jason Pearson, hitting coach Geoff Manson and team manager Joanna Mazzocca have been a big part of the team’s success.
The Sliders will compete against 15 other top teams from all over the province, but the tournament operates on a blind draw so the schedule will not be released until that draw is completed on July 4.
For more on the event, visit softball.bc.ca.