Napanee Express teams were in all corners of Ontario this to take part in provincial tournaments, each returning with plenty to celebrate.
In Stouffville, the Napanee’s Canadian Tire U14 Peewee Express boys clinched the ‘B’ division gold medal, in Jarvis the AFW Construction U18 Midget Express took home bronze, the Calderwood Automation U10 Mite Express boys went 3-0 in Fitzroy Harbour while in Windsor the Casa Art Adventure U14 Peewee Express girls were just one win shy of qualifying for Nationals.
The Canadian Tire Peewee Express made a statement early, defeating the Ivanhoe Storm 11-1 via the mercy rule in their first game, starting their four game undefeated run.
“They played outstanding defense and the boys hit the ball extremely hard and often all weekend,” said Express head coach Scott Thompson.
After routing the host Stouffville Storm 21-5 in their second game, the Express faced their toughest challenge against the Brussel Tigers in the undefeated game. Trailing 4-2 after the second inning, the Express bats caught fire in the fourth, pounding out seven runs en route to an eventual 14-4 mercy win. They closed out the championship with an 11-1 victory over Stouffville. All told they scored 57 runs and allowed just 11 in their four victories. Pitchers Easton Thompson and Ethan Martin threw the ball well all weekend.
The gold medal was a nice cap to the season for the Peewee Express boys, who are made up of mostly first-year peewee players.
“We’re just hoping that with the boys being through an All-Ontario championship and playing under pressure, that going forward that’s going to be beneficial to them,” said Thompson. “They’ve already been there so we’re hoping they can on it next year.”
The gold medal was also a nice follow up to the team’s strong showing at eliminations, which they hosted in early July. They went 1-2, losing their final game in extra innings and just missed out on a trip to Nationals.
“The eliminations was an extremely big pressure test for us because it was at home,” said Thompson. “We played a lot of tight games and good teams. It was a really good test I think it helped get the boys ready.”
The Peewee Express will not turn their attention to league play, where they enter their playoffs as the top seed. The playoffs will run over the next two weeks.
– The AFW Construction Midget Express had to settle for bronze at the U18 provincials in Jarvis as they continue to get ready for Nationals, Aug. 16-20 in O’Leary PEI.
Napanee’s only tournament losses came at the hands of Caledonia and Chepstow, who won gold and silver respectively. Napanee blanked Tavistock 7-0 to open the tournament before falling 8-5 to Caledonia. They blanked Shallow Lake 4-0 and were all over Kitchener-Waterloo 7-1 before losing 14-6 to Chepstow to finish their run in third place.
– After qualifying in the ‘A’ division, the Casa Art Adventures Novice Express girls knew they’d be in tough at their provincials in Windsor.
The girls began their weekend with a thrilling walk-off win over Mississauga Southwest thanks to some heads up baserunning from Nikki Weese. She caught the other team napping when she stole second, advanced to third on the overthrow and continued home before the centrefielder could back up the throw and make a throw to the plate. She slid in under the tag for a 7-6 win.
The thrilling victory carried over on Saturday as they defeated a tough Kitchener White squad 10-3 to secure a spot in the final eight on Sunday.
Next up for the team was Lasalle ’03 (the tournament favourite before weekend play and eventual bronze medalists). Napanee put forth a tremendous effort, ultimately falling 6-3.
On Sunday morning facing Richmond Hill (who they faced two weeks earlier in Napanee at the qualifier and lost 8-0) and facing elimination, the team battled to the final out, eventually losing 3-2.
Their weekend was far from over however. The run at provincials was complete but because a birth at Canadians was still at the stake, the team had to play another game against Brampton Burgundy. After waiting to hear their fate, they took the field with their lives on the line and dug themselves a deep hole. Through an exciting back and forth game, Napanee came out on top 9-7, setting up one final game on Sunday night the winner advancing to the Canadians.
The Napanee girls’ Cinderella run unfortunately ended against Mississauga in a 10-5 loss but nevertheless capped an amazing weekend of softball. Throughout the weekend, the team faced three of the top five teams in the province and demonstrated that they definitely belonged.
The coaching staff wants to acknowledge all members of the team and their efforts this weekend which could not have been a success without everyone’s contributions.
The team now looks to conclude a successful season wrapping up the Eastern Ontario Minor Softball League and North York Women’s League.