The Unity Panthers were able to claim the U19 Western Canadian Softball Championships on home turf.
Head Coach, Scott Gilbert, said it's a great accomplishment for the team to win a championship title, "We were able to win the championship on the back of a true team effort. The girls played a solid weekend of ball, they had some ups and downs, but were very consistent, gutted out some tough wins against very good opponents. They played great ball and a real team game all weekend long."
He noted that it was like the entire community had come out to support the team and take in the tournament, "Unbelievable. We had great crowd support all weekend and to do something like this, not just in front of their parents, but their grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, and the entire community who came out to support. To do it at home was extra special."
There were nine teams at the tournament representing British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Round Robin Games
- Panthers 7 vs. South Delta Invaders 0
- Panthers 13 vs. Langley Xtreme 7
- Panthers 6 vs. Irma Tigers 3
- Panthers 4 vs. Westman Magic 12
- Panthers 4 vs. Red Deer Rage 5
- Panthers 3 vs. Central Energy 1
After going through the round robin, earning a 4 - 2 record, the Panthers were matched up with the Westman Magic for a second time. The Magic were able to hand them another loss, 13 - 1, putting the Panthers in a must win situation in their next game.
Gilbert said it was a fierce game between them and the other Saskatchewan team, the Melfort Spirits. "Coincidentally, Melfort and us were the two teams in the Provincial final this year. We beat them at the provincial final but it was another tough match-up."
Panthers were able to repeat their provincial success, defeating the Spirits in the semi-final game, sending them home with bronze medals. "The nice part was that it guaranteed that two Saskatchewan teams went home with medals this year."
And then it was down to two teams, the Unity Panthers and Westman Magic.
"The Manitoba team, the Westman Magic, who had defeated us twice in the tournament handily both times. The girls got up for the game and just came out on fire," Gilbert said the team knew they were heading into a tough battle for gold, but the girls were able to pull off all their plays, "We had great pitching from Jensen Chorney, great defense from all the girls throughout the game."
Gilbert said some timely hits from their side sealed the deal, "It was tied three all and we were able to tack on four runs and shut them down to take home the championship."
The final score was 7 - 3 for the Panthers.
He said it was a great to see the team work together and end their season a high note, "They worked hard, stayed positive. It was a true team effort from these girls. It wasn't one or two girls carrying the show, we had 13 girls that really gelled, worked hard and played a team game."