It was mission accomplished for the host Napanee Under-14 Express girls this weekend, as they finished second at the PWSA Novice Girls Qualifier, held at the Napanee Fairgrounds.
A second-place finish means they reached their goal of qualifying for the ‘A’ division of the Grand Championship, which will be held Aug. 10-12 in Barrie.
They were aiming for at least a top four finish to get into the top-ranked division for the provincial tournament.
“I was happy to get into the finals, and if we won, we won, but we got where I wanted to be,” said Express head coach Shawn Hutcheson.
Napanee went 4-2 on the weekend, losing only to the Toronto Lady Mets, including a 10-4 defeat in the finals. It was a strong showing for the Napanee club, which has a much smaller area in which they can draw players compared to the big city which also included players from the GTA.
“It was kind of like a select team that was put together,” Hutcheson said of Toronto. “That team won the national qualifier in Windsor a few weeks back. For us to only lose to them, that’s pretty good.”
Napanee began their tournament with a 9-0 victory over Cobourg on Friday night. Payton Hutcheson got the team off on the right foot, tossing a no-hit shutout.
They continued their success Saturday morning by defeating Whitby 8-0 and then topped Clarington 6-1 on Saturday afternoon.
They suffered their first loss in the undefeated game against the Mets, losing 10-1 before rebounding with a 4-3 win over Port Perry to earn a rematch with Toronto in the finals.
With 32 runs scored in six games, the Express had contributions throughout their lineup.
“It’s happened all year with our team,” said Hutcheson. “It didn’t matter where they were in the lineup. We got hits from players lower in the lineup or higher in the lineup. The team right now is peaking when we should so it’s been great.”
The Express will play a league game against Clarington to help stay sharp before heading to the Grand Championships in Barrie next week.