By LeRae Haynes
A true ‘victory for the underdog’ story took place last weekend when the Williams Lake Loons took the BC U14 Boys Minor Provincial Softball Tournament by storm. They came home with a silver medal, despite the fact that they had played together only six weeks before attending the provincials in Clearwater.
Minor ball was almost shut down in Williams Lake when parents Michele Tenning and Trish Morey decided to see if they could save its life. “No one wanted to run it, but if you let it die out it’s really hard to get it started again,” Trish explained.
They worked hard recruiting and organizing, and almost singlehandedly resurrected the group in Williams Lake. “We have 50% higher enrollment this year with lots of younger, new team members,” she continued.
The team had only played together for six weeks before going to the provincials—including a total of four games. “Sometimes we’d be lucky if four kids showed up.
“When it came time to select players for the team going to the provincials, other teams had a thousand kids to choose from: the best of the best. We only had 12 kids to choose from, including two from 100 Mile House. We ended up with 11 because one broke his finger,” she said.
“There were rep teams at the provincials, and we had kids who didn’t know anything about positions on the field or the rules of the game. I thought we’d go and play three games, have a party and come home on Sunday.”
She said that when the team, coaches and parents arrived at the provincials, it was clear from the beginning that they were out of their league. “We were afraid it would be a disaster.
“When we first arrived there was a coaches’ meeting, where they drew names to determine what teams played whom. I thought each coach seemed delighted when they got paired with Williams Lake so they could ‘clean up.’
“When our coaches, Nicki Peever and Laurie Appleton, came out of the meeting they said, ‘they thought we were really nice.’ We expected to get eaten alive.”
From the very first game, face to face with one of the rep teams at the event, the Loons proved that heart, soul, great coaching and exceptional team spirit are a force to be reckoned with.
“They blew us away,” Trish said. “They ‘gelled’ together as a team for the first time and really performed, and I kept thinking, ‘Where did this team come from? Who are these kids?’
“Some of these kids had never even played a team sport before. I think this tournament has changed their lives.”
She said that the weekend weather was very hot and that when they were almost down to the final game, it started to thunder and lightning and started to pour. “We didn’t want the games to be called, and be decided by a coin toss,” she noted.
“We walked out to the field and said, ‘Send us some umpires—we want to play,’ and we won. People called us ’rookies’ but we came home with a silver medal.”
“I’ve never seen sportsmanship like you have on your team,” said the mother of one of the umpires. Your coaches and parents are unbelievable. You made a few mistakes—this was your first time out, but I’m writing a letter to the provincial authorities to say what a pleasure it was to have you here.”
Just one highlight of the event included a great infield double play when pitcher Brandon Moore snagged the ball from the hitter, threw to Keegan Morey at second base, who threw to Devon Hill on first base, taking out the hitter and the runner on base.
Trish said that Hayden Lyons was ‘amazing’ as short stop, as was back catcher Tyler Tenning who played the entire event—game after game.
14-year-old pitcher Brandon Moore from 100 Mile House also played every game—only sitting out one inning throughout the weekend. His brother, Trevor, who took MVP player at the event, is a versatile, skilled player in several infield and outfield positions.
Also a hockey player, Brandon said that he went to the minor fastball provincials two years ago with his 100 Mile Team.
“I expected us to do OK, but didn’t think we’d be able to win silver,” he stated, adding that one of the many highlights of the event was when center fielder Chris caught a huge pop up fly with a big dive and catch during the last game.
“I think we surprised a lot of people—how we were able to come in and win games with so little background,” he said.
“If someone made a mistake, the whole team said, ‘That’s OK, you’ll get it next time.’ Overall, everybody did really well— most would get on base, some hit some great doubles and triples and we had some really good bunters who would advance the runners,” he said.
“I think they’re a great bunch of players who never knew it until now,” stated Williams Lake U14 Boys Minor Softball president Michele Tenning. “We have some boys who have been to provincials in soccer and hockey and are competitive, but who have never done that in baseball.”
“When we played that last game we went in on a high,” Brandon said. “We just played ball.”
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