Heading into the Alberta U16 A girls fastball championship tournament July 18-20 at Strathmore, the Red Deer Rage were looking ahead to another trip — to Duncan B.C., for the Western Canada finals Aug. 7-10.
“We were planning on going to westerns. We thought we were the second-best team in the province,” said Rage assistant coach Cara Lee, prior to a team practice Tuesday at the West Park diamond.
Instead, the Calgary Adrenaline will be competing in Duncan as the Alberta runner-up, while the Rage will be off to Brampton, Ont., for the Canadian championship Aug. 13-17. The Red Deer squad was undefeated at Strathmore and beat the favoured Adrenaline twice, including 4-1 in the gold-medal game.
“We have a great group of girls who came together and played their best ball at the right time at provincials,” said Lee, who is joined on the coaching staff by assistant Kevin Coston and head coach Darcy Marshall.
The Rage competed in two leagues — Girls Prairie Softball and Red Deer Senior Ladies Fastball — this season and weren’t always at the top of their game.
“It was a work in progress. We struggled early in the year and we lost to teams we beat 11-1 at the end of the year,” said Lee.
The team consists of seven returning players and four rookies, all of whom harbour talent and a will to win, Lee insisted.
“It’s a fantastic group of girls,” she said. “Team character and chemistry have been the keys. The girls get along and they work hard. But they’re not too intense . . . they know how to focus.”
Pitching is a team strength with Kaylee Domoney, Kirsten Baumgardt and Sable Sampson handling mound duties.
“We had seven runs scored against us in six games at provincials,” said Lee.
Catcher Erika Marshall joins Domoney and Baumgardt as three of the club’s top offensive players.
“We have a lot of high-average hitters with power,” said Lee.
The Rage will enter the Canadian championship tournament with reasonable expectations.
“We are just looking to go and hold our own,” said Lee. “We’re going there to win the games we can win. There will be some teams we can compete with and others that play 12 months a year that we’ll probably learn a lot from.”
The under-16 A team is just one of six Red Deer Rage Fastball Association squads to win a provincial medal this summer.
“We couldn’t be happier as an association,” said president Clayton Cassidy.
“We had 12 teams go to provincials and we came home with two gold, two silver and two bronze.”
The Rage U10 A team was golden this year and the youth 14A Rage won silver at provincials and will compete in the westerns this weekend at Lloydminster. The U16 B Rage also earned a silver medal at the provincials and the U16 D and U12 B teams were bronze-medallists.
The Rage Association features teams from the U10 to U18 age divisions.
“We pride ourselves in the fact that we’ve been growing every year for the last five years where other associations in the province seem to be shrinking,” said Cassidy, who coached the Zone 4 team to a bronze-medal finish in the recent Alberta Summer Games at Airdrie and will coach the U14 A Rage at this weekend’s westerns in Lloydminster.
The Red Deer U16 A Rage roster:
Amy Mulder; Brooke Cassidy; Cassidy Hollman; Erika Marshall; Kaylee Domoney; Kennedy Coston; Kirsten Baumgardt; Lena Ryan; Myah Cota; Natalie Bender; Rylee Frank; Sable Sampson; Taya Lee.