The 2015 Canadian Slo-Pitch Championships was a real eye-opener for two Yukon softball teams last week in Dorchester, Ont.
The two teams - the Urban Realty Reds in the men’s tournament and the Fountain Tire Titans in the women’s - went winless, together getting outscored 415-80 over 19 games.
However, the Yukon teams, which were the first to compete at the championships in about 25 years, were glad they went.
“It was a great experience,” said Reds coach Dan Jordan. “Their inexperience at that level showed. We didn’t win a game, but I’m not sure we were expected to. But they played really hard.
“We had a short roster of only 12 players, and to last 10 games at that level was quite and accomplishment.”
“The competition was really tough; we’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Titans coach Roni-Sue Steinhagen. “But we definitely learned a lot and improved every game that we played there, which is great. Now we know what we need to work on over the winter. We’re going to be really prepared for next year.”
The Reds went winless in 10 games in Dorchester. They lost 27-4 to the Alberta Oilmen, who went on to win their second title in four years. The Reds also took a closer 14-6 loss to the HR Sports Syndicate, another Alberta team that took silver, going the full seven innings.
“To go seven innings with a team of that caliber was quite an accomplishment,” said Jordan.
“Where we suffered most was at the bats. Our defensive play, I think, was very good. We just couldn’t produce the runs to keep up.”
The Titans played nine games at the championship, losing 25-5 to the gold medalist Sports Mizuno Lady Birds, from Ontario, who defended their title from last year.
Their closest game was a 9-3 loss to Ontario’s Lady Gryphons, who finished the round robin in the top spot.
“Some of the coaches I talked to had players who played college ball down in the States,” said Steinhagen. “They play hundreds of games in their season and they play tournaments at that high level. And we play Dustball. But I think we did well considering how much ball we play together.”
The Yukon teams earned the spots at the championship in Softball Yukon’s qualifying tournament in Whitehorse this past May.
The Titans and Whitehorse’s P&M Recycling Guns won a second qualifying tournament earlier this month to represent Yukon at the 2016 Canadian Slo-Pitch Championships, which will be held in Whitehorse next August.
“The team was great, they represented well, were great ambassadors of the Yukon and they were well-liked down there,” said Jordan. “It was a good time all the way around and we can’t wait to go back.”
“We were very popular and I think we did the Yukon proud,” said Steinhagen. “We even made it into the London Free Press on the front page of the sports section right under the Blue Jays.”
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