It was a crazy weekend of ball for the Terrace U14 Grizzlies, the first softball team Terrace has sent to provincials for more than a decade.
Running in crazy hot weather, the team played eight games July 7-9, winning silver in the U14 rep boys Provincial Softball Championships in Barriere near Kamloops.
“It was awesome… the kids played really, really well,” said Ryan Praticante, one of the coaches along with Jordie Edmonds, Kelly Bowles, and Kenny Giesbrecht.
But with the heat ranging from 35 to 40 degrees all weekend, the team was totally spent by the end.
“We played eight games in three days, so they were totally done,” Praticante said.
Starting Friday, the Grizzlies bat five straight victories to kick start the championship.
They then lost to the home team of Barriere in a semi-final, but with a modified double-knockout structure, the team had one more shot to make finals.
The match played against 100 Mile House was the thrill of the tournament for the team of 13 and 14-year-old youth, who smashed out an invigorating comeback.
The game started out great, with the Grizzlies securing a 5-0 lead in the first inning.
“Everything was looking really good, and then we just fell apart,” said Praticante. “The next thing you know it’s 9-5 with about 20 minutes left in the game.”
But when 100 Mile House put in a new pitcher, the Grizzlies managed to score a few runs and tie up the game 9-9.
That’s when Elias Lightening stepped up to the plate and hit home the victory.
With two runners on base, Lightening smashed the ball into the outfield and ran to first, scoring a single and driving both runners all the way home.
“It was awesome… everyone went crazy when he hit it,” said Praticante. “It was a beautifully placed hit.”
The next inning, pitcher Ethan Hawryluk struck out the batters to secure the 11-9 win and advance the boys into finals.
Finals were against Barriere, the home team the Grizzlies had lost to in the semis, and though the Grizzlies played hard, they lost to what Praticante acknowledges was a superior team.
With the exhaustion of playing so many games in the stifling heat, Praticante said he was very proud of the team, and most highly because of the way they represented Terrace by their character.
“We got nothing but compliments from the parents and organizers about how we portrayed the team off the field,” said Praticante.
“They’re 14-year-old kids, that doesn’t always happen,” he said, but “our kids did a really, really good job of being respectful, and parents took notice of how well-mannered we are.”
Williams Edmonds, Tom Dame, Trai Zips and Ty Giesbrecht were invited to join a select team of kids from all over B.C. to compete in August in the western provincials (one step from nationals) in Saskatchewan.