WC girls help 56ers make provincial championship

STITTSVILLE – The Stittsville 56ers U16 girls’ fastball team is off to the provincial championship with strong support from West Carleton on the roster.

This past weekend 56ers finished third at the provincial qualifier tournament and will represent the Ottawa area, and all eastern Ontario, at the A Provincial Qualifier from Aug. 8 to 12 in Stratford, ON.

Although the team formally represents Stittsville, the team’s athletes live throughout the region including Stittsville, Kanata, Mountain, Winchester, Vars, Kinburn, Carp and North Gower.

The 56ers started the tournament strong with a win Friday evening over the Oshawa Shamrocks 5-1. Avery Smith led the offence with three hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Sydney Watts was dominant in the pitching circle, striking out 14 batters while giving up only one walk and four hits in seven complete innings. Saturday the 56ers drew the strong Aurora Diggers team and managed an impressive 7-0 win. Watts again had the ball for the 56ers and threw a complete game shutout. The 56ers played excellent defence making no errors and holding the Aurora batters to no runs and stranding six base runners. The 56ers had 11 hits and all 56ers batters reached base safely at least once. Delaney Johnston led the offensive charge with two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs. Hailey Armstrong was the underrated hero of this game keeping the starters fresh and fired-up with her positive attitude and non-stop cheering on the bench.

The 56ers won their third straight game against the Whitby Eagles 10-5. Jordyn LeBoutillier and Sydney Watts combined for the win with LeBoutillier starting and finishing the game and Watts eating up innings in the middle. Every 56er had at least one hit in the game, seven batters scored runs and seven batters hit RBIs in a well-rounded team effort. Offensive leaders included Johnston who batted three for four with an RBI and a run scored, Watts and Paige Galbraith who each had two RBIs, and Smith, Brianna Flowers and MacKenzie Bresee who each scored twice. Smith also made a fantastic sliding catch for the second out of the seventh inning which was followed by a statement strikeout by LeBoutillier to end the game. The win over Whitby guaranteed the 56ers a place in the undefeated game and a spot in the A Provincial Championship.

On Saturday night, the 56ers played their third game of the day against Oakville. The 56ers had a very tough start to the game by giving up sic runs in the first and second innings after a number of defensive errors eventually losing the contest 12-1. Galbraith made her first pitching appearance of the tournament in relief of LeBoutillier and allowed no earned runs through four innings pitched. Alison Roach scored the 56ers only run of the game after a triple in the fifth inning which was followed by a base hit by Bresee.

On Sunday the 56ers faced the Diggers again, with the winner moving on to face Oakville in the gold medal game. The 56ers led the game 5-2 before giving up four runs in the sixth inning and not being able to come back in the seventh – losing a heartbreaker 6-5 The 56ers committing a number of errors early in this tough game but fought back by making very big outs to keep control of the game until late. Watts pitched the complete game for the 56ers giving up seven hits and four earned runs. Johnston, Bresee and Mikaylee Driver each had two hits for the 56ers. Watts helped her own cause with two RBIs and Driver added another RBI. The loss earned the 56ers the bronze medal. The Diggers went on to defeat Oakville in the finals. All three teams plus Waterloo qualified for the “A” Provincials.

The 56ers were missing Jayde Shouldice and Emmy Lecour. Lecour is currently competing at the U16 European Championships with Team France. Both athletes will be back to help their team at the Provincials. 

The 56ers are the only u16 tier II competitive team east of Napanee and finding local competitive opportunities is a huge challenge. The team is grateful to teams from other divisions who provided quality local competition as we prepared for the Qualifier including the Ottawa Valley Fastball women’s league (Carp Cubs, Quyon Flyers, and u19 Ottawa South Angels), u 14 West Carleton boys,  u19 Cornwall Chaos,  u16 Tier 1 Kingston Jr. Gaels who organized an early-season game day in Kingston, and Lac St. Louis and Riv Sud who travelled to Stittsville for some great games.

The 56ers are also thankful to have received support from a number of coaches and players during our tryouts, winter training and during our season. Special thanks to Al Read, Kevin Daize, Steph Bouchey, Scott Searle, Elissa Sivel, Bruce Casselman, Ken Naylor (NCCP certifications) and Nick Ellis. The team is also supported by the SMSA executive.

Finally, the team would like to thank the local umpires who worked with our pitching staff to understand the rule changes for this year at our practices and during exhibition games. I am happy to report that not a single illegal pitch was thrown.

The 56ers are sponsored by Platinum Sponsor Sleepwell Property Management  as well as Beans Chevrolet, Ken White Construction, Upper Canada Elevators, the BLG Foundation, lawyer Larry Elliot, Ram Electric, Shouldice Mechanical, Ottawa-Nepean Canadians Sports Club,  Kanata Sports Club and the Water Depot. Their success this season would not be possible without the financial support from these great local businesses and many within the local softball community, as is discussed further below.

The other teams who have qualified for the “A” provincials are Brantford, Oakville, Milton, Lucan, Brampton, Springfield, Kawartha Lakes, Aurora, Vaughn, Palmerston and Waterloo. The medalists at the Provincial Championship have the option of representing Ontario at the Eastern Ontario Championships August 22-25 in Whitby.