South Surrey White Rock Thunder Win BC U14 Provincial Championship

SURREY, British Columbia - July 17, 2013 - PRLog -- Author - Steve Lee

This story isn’t about championships.  This story is about a group of young women who have come together to create a special bond that is so often found in dugouts, locker rooms and sideline benches.  This story is about the pieces of the puzzle that have been put together over the last couple of years in order to complete the picture.  This story is about a team that two years ago had a sniff of what it took to win it all when it fell just short of winning gold in the Squirt Rep B Provincial Championship Tournament.  That afternoon there was a mix of emotions throughout the roster, some of upset, some of joy and many with determination to make sure that they would not be bridesmaids again.  

This past weekend, the South Surrey Thunder 99’s travelled to Abbotsford Exhibition Park to participate in the Softball BC “Rep Pee Wee B” Championships.  As part of the sixteen team field, the Thunder 99’s, representing District 7, were one of four teams that were seen as favorites to compete for the title.  

This is a story about a team that bounced back from a disappointing season in 2012.  Disappointing in the sense that the opportunity to compete in the Provincial Championship Tournament slipped from their grasp in large part to fatigue, injury and on some part mentally just checking out.  Think of it as when the Canucks travelled to Boston after dropping the Stanley Cup the year prior.  Well the same happened to the team after they won the gold medal at the Acers Mother’s Day Tournament in Seattle.  The girls were on such a high from that, everything from there seemed to slowly go downhill rather than be used as a source of motivation.  When the Canucks won that meaningless regular season game in Beantown, one that was overhyped by the media to unworldly proportions, it was a “return to the Cup or Bust mentality”.  On a slightly lesser level, it seemed like the same result for the ladies from South Surrey.  This is a story about adversity.

Taking to the field on Friday early afternoon in their first game of the round robin schedule, the Thunder 99’s squared off against the Ridge Meadows Rage 99’s, a team in which they had much success against during the regular season.  Unfortunately, nobody really remembers the regular season when it comes to the playoffs, a memory that the Rage obviously put behind them as they handed the Thunder a stinging 10-3 loss.  Regrouped and refocused, the South Surrey team capped off the evening with a convincing victory over the Nanaimo Diamonds to finish the first day with a 1-1 record.

Day two found the girls from South Surrey hitting the road early in the morning to arrive for a 7am warm up in preparation for an 8am battle against South Delta Invaders 2000, one that saw the Thunder 99’s double up their opponent 8-4.  Success continued a short while later as the team finished their round robin schedule with a victory over the Vancouver Wildcats, pushing the record to 3-1 and a fifth seed in the playoff bracket. Once again closing out the tournament schedule, the Thunder 99’s easily knocked off their first round opponent Kelowna Heat on Saturday evening.  

This story is about thousands of miles travelled and the heavy rotation of pump up music blended seamlessly with totally irrelevant conversations.  This story is about the countless amounts of Spitz littering the dugouts and the vast quantity of water and Powerade to replenish tired bodies.  This is a story about what it took for a team of twelve to be honored with gold medals in five of six tournaments this season.

If one were to look up the definition to “battle of attrition”, you may find a picture of the Thunder 99 girls next to the caption.  Once again returning to the field first thing in the morning, the girls once again handed their opponents a lopsided victory, as their win over the North Shore Stars catapulted the South Surrey team into the semi-finals and guaranteed a place on the medal podium.  

This is a story regardless of who started or who sat, who pitched or who caught, who played infield or who played outfield, of whether or not the games were won or lost (of which there were only 9 games of a total 60 played) offensively or defensively.  

Squaring off against the Sooke Mavericks, a semi-final matchup of teams completely unknown to each other, the Thunder bats, which were hot in the previous two games, went stone cold as the team could not solve the pitcher from Vancouver Island.  Falling 3-1 in a game that was as close as the score indicated, the girls from the Lower Mainland had one bonus life remaining in the double knockout tournament format.

Changing diamonds and refueling, the “play-in” game featured a nail biting affair that saw the host Abbotsford Outlaws 99’s fall short in a 1-0 battle that had fans and players of both teams on the edge of their seats in anticipation for the entire seven innings.

This is a story about sacrifice and shining moments.  A story that has had the highs and lows that can be found when life doesn’t always go the way that you plan it too, but yet at the end of the day, pleasant surprises that make everything worthwhile.  

At 5 o’clock on Sunday evening as the sun continued to beat down on Abbotsford Exhibition Park, the Softball BC Pee Wee B Provincial Championship game kicked off and truth be told, it was a feat in itself that the girls on both teams were able to put on a show truly deserving of a final game.  The time for rest and healing bodies would come Monday morning.  Now familiar with each other, the last ten and a half months came down to one final game for the Mavericks and the Thunder.  Locked in a defensive battle, the Island team took an early 1-0 lead, one that held strong until the seventh and final inning.  

If you told any of the girls who proudly wore the SSWR Thunder jersey that each and every practice, workout and clinic they took part in during the dark, grey, wet winter, that it would all come down to one inning, they may have looked at you a little cockeyed.  On Sunday evening, those eyes were wide open and filled with anticipation, tension and excitement.  Capitalizing on a key Mavericks mistake, the South Surrey club tied the game and then by the end of the top of the seventh had it flipped in their favor 3-1.  They say offense wins games and defense wins championships.  What happened in the bottom of the seventh and final inning is at this point nothing but a blur and a whirlwind of nerves.  Once that final pitch was thrown and the ball was caught, that blur and whirlwind quickly cleared to find fourteen Thunder clad girls, their coaches and their parents yelling and jumping for joy.

This is a story about….team.

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