The P&M Recycling Guns and the Fountain Tire Titans will be hometown favourites on the national stage next summer.
The two teams will represent Yukon at the 2016 Canadian Slo-Pitch Championships, which will be held in Whitehorse next August.
Both teams earned the spots by winning the qualifying tournament hosted by Softball Yukon at Whitehorse’s Pepsi Softball Centre over the weekend.
It’ll be two in a row for the Yukon Fountain Tire Titans, who will also represent the territory at this year’s nationals next week in Dorchester, Ont.
“We’re super happy, super proud, super excited we get to represent (Yukon) two years in a row. It’s pretty cool,” said Titans coach/player Tanya Sage. “It’s going to be great to be home field, representing the Yukon and hopefully our bats show up then too.”
Their bats sure showed up in the women’s final on Sunday. The Titans clobbered the P&M Recycling Sistas 29-11 in the final. “That was a great ball game. We hit the ball, we defended really well, we stayed positive,” said Sage. “Everyone was hitting really well, everyone contributed, everyone was at the top of their game.”
The Fountain Tire team peeled away to a 29-4 lead by the middle of the fifth inning. When the Sistas failed to bridge the mercy-rule gap in the bottom of the inning – though they tried with seven runs – the game was called.
Titans outfielder Melanie Lachapelle went five for six at the plate, third baseman Sharmane Jones five for five and outfielder Heidi Harry four for six. Ace pitcher Karen Bevilacqua got the win.
On the way to the tournament win, the Titans twice defeated the Nuway Crushers (18-13 and 12-9) but lost to the Sistas 21-18 in extra innings in the two teams’ first encounter Sunday morning.
“This morning we were here ready to play them, came out quickly with some runs early,” said Sistas coach Russ Smoler. “This afternoon (the Titans) just hit the ball really well and made some plays to stay ahead of us.”
The P&M Recycling Guns hit the field fully loaded. Only in the final, which they won 29-19 over Dave’s Cleaning Crew, did the Guns play all seven innings.
Their first three games in the men’s tournament ended early through the mercy rule.
“It all went well,” said Guns coach Mitch Malchow. “They are a good group of guys who have all been playing together a long time.”
After serving the Cleaning Crew a three-up, three-down inning to start the game, the Guns scored six in the bottom. Pitcher Brian White got the ball rolling with a huge three-run homer that still hasn’t returned to earth. He put another in orbit in the second on a two-run homer to make it 12-0.
“The boys played good today in the final, scored runs every inning and that’s the name of this game,” said Malchow, who just took over coaching duties. “I used to play against these boys a lot of years ago, so it’s fun to be back with them.”
“We are extremely excited about our new coach joining the squad,” said Guns captain Mike Tuton, who had a two-run homer in the first.
The Cleaning Crew didn’t get on the board until the third, on a deep drive from outfielder Ryan Lane with the bases loaded. After starting the fifth inning down 22-7, the Crew began to close the gap, first with a three-run shot from Nolan Stonehouse, then a two-run homer from George Maratos in the sixth, followed by another two-runner from captain James Semaschuk.
“It is what it is. The guys came together – we had a couple last-minute pick-ups – but we played a hell of a tournament,” said Semaschuk. “When you play against a team like the Guns …
they have all the experience, they know how to field the ball and they know how to hit.
“Dave’s cleaning kept up with them – they were the only team they didn’t mercy this tournament … Every tournament we’ve played we’ve improved, from fourth to third, from third to second now.”
The Guns won the men’s A division in Whitehorse’s Dustball Invitational Slo-Pitch Tournament last month, adding to a long list of Dustball titles, but they came up short in their previous challenge.
This past May the Guns lost to the Whitehorse’s Urban Reality Reds (then called the Marlins) in the final of the qualifying tourney for next week’s slo-pitch nationals.
“They missed the one this year, so they wanted to redeem themselves, I think,” added Malchow.
When the Reds and the Fountain Tire Titans hit the field next week, it’ll be the first time Yukon is represented slo-pitch nationals in more than 25 years. Softball Yukon was required to send teams to this year’s nationals as part of the deal in hosting next year’s.
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