Red Deer Rage U14 pitcher Emma Meraw fires a pitch during play Sunday at Edgar Park as part of “Pink Sox” weekend for the Girls Prairie Softball League. (Photo by Byron Hackett/ Advocate Staff)

Red Deer Rage host Girls Prairie League Softball Pink Sox Weekend

Red Deer Rage host Girls Prairie League Softball Pink Sox Weekend

Edgar Park in Red Deer was abuzz on the weekend for the annual Girls Prairie League Softball tournament, but Saturday featured a unique fashion trend that was for more than just style points.

It was the second annual “Pink Sox” weekend for the GPLS, a league that brings teams together teams from all across Alberta and Saskatchewan for a weekend, tournament format. In total they play four tournaments over the course of the summer, including a final double knockout championship weekend in June.

The Red Deer Rage hosted Pink Sox weekend from Friday to Sunday and Rage association president Dan Kusk said it was sight too see Saturday with a ballpark full of pink socks.

“They always get full cooperation from all the teams. Saturday is the day where everybody wears the pink socks. Every team, every coach, it’s kinda neat to see,” said Kusk, adding that each pair of socks costs 10 dollars with the money being donated to cancer research.

“It all goes to a good cause and those pink socks stick around for a long time. You see them at practice all the time for years to come. I think unfortunately, there probably isn’t anybody here who hasn’t been touched by cancer. It hits home for everybody rather quickly. It certainly a cause that people support fully.”

Kusk said the ‘A’ Division tournament featured teams from Prince Albert, Lloydminster, Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Red Deer and Calgary playing in U12 all the way up to U16. he added the weekend format has been a blessing for growing the sport.

“League has been running for six years,” he said. “Designed for competitive fastball, because a lot of times teams have trouble finding teams of the same calibre. The league is run in a weekend format, so all the teams played four, five or six games. That will count towards the league and they don’t play during the week.”

In his second year as president of the Red Deer Rage, Kusk also noted the growth of fastball in Red Deer and Alberta has been fantastic.

“Thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers and parents we’ve had some pretty significant growth in girls fastball in Red Deer the last couple years,” he said. “Our association has grown by 10-15 per cent per year. We’ve had record years, two in a row, this year we ended up with 266 players from eight years old to 18. It’s exciting.

“We’re starting to see the growth of the sport right across Alberta. I think some credit goes to GPLS. They’ve been working at it for the last six years to really grow the sport and I think it’s gaining in popularity.”

Kusk, who also coaches the U14 Rage said along with the benefits of having the whole league in one location for four weekends over the course of the summer, he noted the GPLS also allows teams to see who they will line up against at provincials.

“All of the teams you see here, you see at provincials. So it certainly gives you a chance to measure yourself against everybody else,” he said.

Kusk’s U14A Rage went undefeated over six games. They beat Edmonton River City 11-9, the St. Albert Angels 13-12, Sherwood Park Storm three 4-3 and 3-2, Sherwood Park Storm Four 9-0 and the Edmonton Warriors 8-7.

The U12 Rage were also successful in the tournament with wins in each of their six games. They grabbed wins over the Calgary Adrenaline 13-7 and 10-3, the Strathmore Thunder 13-2, the Sherwood Park Storm 7-6 and the St. Albert Angels 12-10 and 12-10.

The Red Deer Rage U16A girls won four of their six games on the weekend, with victories over Calgary Kaizen, Calgary Adrenaline, St. Albert, and Edmonton River City. For more information check out www.gpls.ca/

byron.hackett@reddeeradvocate.com

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