A good mix of youngsters and veterans powered the Alberta team to an early 2-0 tournament start in the Baseball Canada Senior Women’s Invitational.
A double-header to start the weekend tournament, Alberta faced a tough team from Ontario and a team comprised of baseball players from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces.
Alberta head coach Steven Inch said the team showed a lot of character early against the Prospect Team as they rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh to win 10-9.
“We were down most of the game and we rallied to get some momentum,” he said. “That will continue into the weekend.”
Second baseman Nicole Luchanski, 26, had a two-run single to start the comeback in the last inning and then right fielder Melissa Armstrong’s infield single and subsequent throwing error scored her and shortstop Kelsey Lalor, 18, to cap the comeback.
Lalor also saw time on the mound, throwing five and two-thirds, striking out six and surrendering three earned runs. She was pulled late in the sixth inning for Samantha Ostrom, 31, and moved to shortstop.
In the second game, the Alberta bats struck early and tore the game wide open with a four-run fourth inning.
Leading the charge for Alberta in the 8-2 win over Ontario was designated hitter Paige Hildebrandt, 16. After a disappointing first game, where she went 0-for-3, Hildebrandt started looking comfortable at the plate. She went 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two RBIs
“She was a little nervous in the first game this morning,” said Inch. “I was able to DH her and let her focus on her hitting. We have our veteran girls sandwiched in between our younger players and they feed off of each other.”
On the mound, Inch turned to standout Heidi Northcott, 23, who pitched a complete game, six-hitter. She struck out two and allowed both earned runs.
“Those games can be hard to pitch because we got up early and you have a long time sitting down,” said Inch. “She did a great job pitching with the lead. She was able to come out and challenge hitters when she needed to and kept our girls in it.”
The wins put Alberta in good position heading into day two as they sit atop the round robin with a 2-0 record.
“That’s the way you want to start a tournament,” said Inch. “We haven’t been together as a group too much and it’s nice to see the ladies gelling a little bit and coming together as a team.”
Alberta plays B.C. at 5 p.m. at Great Chief Park. The Prospect Team plays B.C. at 11 a.m. and Ontario plays Quebec at 2 p.m. The tournament runs until Sunday.
In other tournament action: B.C. beat Ontario 4-0 and Quebec beat the Prospect Team 7-4.