The Team Alberta girls are bronze medalists after a successful weekend at Baseball Canada’s 2023 16U Girl’s Invitational National Championships.
Team Alberta went 4-3 throughout the tournament in Summerside, PEI leading to a berth into the bronze medal game where they beat Newfoundland and Labrador 8-3 on Monday.
The Albertans took a 4-1 lead after the second inning and refused to take their foot off the gas pedal. They added four more runs in the next three frames to capture the victory.
Assistant coach Desmond Bouteiller, who’s from Red Deer, said he’s proud of the team.
“It was an amazing group of 14 athletes,” he said.
“I’ve had the ability to coach men and women in multiple sports and I’ve never seen a more passionate group of athletes. They all came together as one quickly and put everything they had out onto the field. It was pretty cool to see.”
After winning the quarterfinals 4-2 over Quebec on Sunday, Alberta had a tough matchup against Ontario in the semifinals. Up 12-11 in the bottom of the seventh inning, all Alberta needed was three outs to advance to the gold medal game. However, Ontario rallied scoring two runs to earn a walk-off victory over Alberta 13-12.
Alberta was obviously crushed but didn’t have time to dwell as the bronze medal game began shortly after.
“We had to regroup and shelf that feeling and disappointment of coming so close to the gold medal game,” he said.
“The way they bounced back and were able to control those feelings and emotions to win the bronze medal was a huge attribute to who these girls were.”
Bouteiller commended the group’s camaraderie which extended through the lineup all the way to the team’s bat girl. The team made sure she got a medal as well.
There was some disappointment the team was unable to play for gold but Bouteiller said it’s a reflection of where Ontario and Quebec are with their baseball programs.
“We’re getting there and I know there’s a huge build toward 2025 at the Canada Summer Game where women’s baseball is going to finally appear,” he said.
“We set a goal to win gold. When we played we didn’t do anything on the field that showed we didn’t deserve to be a gold medal participant. It was bittersweet… The bronze is a pretty nice end point for what the whole year and process was.”
Red Deer’s Tessa Klassen, who pitched for Alberta in the tournament, was one of three players from central Alberta including Stettler’s Ava and Summer Greiner.
Bouteiller said they gave Quebec, who won the gold medal, their biggest challenge of the tournament and were strong in the batter’s box.
“I would say our team was the hardest-hitting group at the tournament and the best part of that is we felt like we were never down in any game,” he said.