BONNYVILLE – After a not so stellar season record, winning just one out of 10 games, the U13 Bonnyville Angels took home bronze medals at the C Provincial softball tournament held in Leduc over the July 15-17 weekend.
The team of 13 players won all their games at the tournament except for their semifinal match-up against the Innisfail Hawks where they fell behind, losing 5-7.
“The semifinal was a tough loss,” said Lisa Hlushak, the team's manager and assistant coach.
Going up against Innisfail was the first game where innings had wrapped up with no runs marked for either side, she noted.
“It was an amazing game and both teams played their hearts out... It was the first time the girls had really come up against an evenly matched team.”
Moving into Angels’ final game of the tournament and hoping to earn bronze, the Bonnyville team took to the diamonds against the Parkland Twins, ultimately winning 21-14.
“We had already played that team in a round robin, so we knew what to expect going into that game, but equally as exciting of a game for the girls knowing that a bronze medal was on the line. That game was a nail biter as well,” recalled Hlushak.
Going into Provincials, the U13 team wasn’t sure how they would fare, having never played any of the teams they faced in the tournament during their regular Girls Prairie League Softball (GPLS) season.
“We didn't know what to expect going into provincials because we hadn't really played a lot of C-level teams. So, it was unexpected but very exciting for the girls to finish the way they did,” she said.
The bronze medal victory was a cherry on top of a season filled with fun and team bonding.
“After the season we had, it was a big learning experience for the girls too. They learned how to lose graciously and were very excited when we won,” said Hlushak, with a laugh.
Looking back on the season, she said, “It was just a pleasure to coach these girls. They were very coachable, always excited to be at practice and on the diamond at games and tournaments. The growth both skill wise and in the dugout was just unbelievable to watch throughout the three months that we were with them.”
Hlushak also expressed a huge appreciation she had for the parents, head coach Ken McMillan and assistant coaches Conrad Pierce and Darcy Theroux.
“They were all amazing coaches and really good with the girls. At 12 and 13 years old, girls aren't always easy to work with and they did very well with them.”
Next year, five of the team’s players will be moving up into the next age bracket.
“Our plan is to try to get to get them together a couple times a month over the winter just to keep them playing. And hopefully, get some idea for what's going to happen for the older girls next season.”
The U13 Bonnyville Angels is made up of one player from Elk Point and another from Cold Lake. The rest of the girls had experience playing with or against each other in previous seasons in the Bonnyville house league.
The Bonnyville Braves U15 AA team will be competing in Tier 2 Provincial over the August long weekend in Lloydminster.