U23 Express finish sixth at Canadians in Saskatoon

Adam Prudhomme

If not for a pair of bad innings, the Napanee U23 Express could have posted an even record at the Canadian Women’s Fast Pitch Championships, held in Saskatoon SK Aug. 10-14.

Twice the Express saw late leads get lost in heart breaking fashion, leaving them with a 2-6 record at the tournament, finishing sixth out of eight teams. Still, playing against some of the top female players from across Canada, there was plenty for the Express to be proud about.

The unusual format of the tournament saw four U23 teams matched up against four women’s teams with no age limit. Napanee lost all four games with the women’s teams, scoring just one time in the four games while allowing a combined 38 runs.

“The four games we had against the women’s teams, there was a big gap,” said Express head coach Scott Morrow. “There were former Team Canada players on their teams. We battled hard and we would hang in for two, three innings or so and if we made a mistake they capitalized. They showed their maturity. We had to play flawless. It was amazing to see the level of the ball, it was great.”

Playing against their own age group Napanee fared much better. In their second game of the tournament Napanee held a 2-0 lead over the Saskatoon Shock heading into the sixth before the Shock rallied for three. Napanee was unable to respond in their final at-bat, falling 3-2.

Later against Quebec, Napanee was clinging to a 2-1 lead going into the seventh before Quebec’s Janie Labrie launched a three-run homer to put her team up 4-2, which would hold up as the final score.

Napanee’s lone win in the round robin was a 6-1 triumph over the Saskatoon Sabres, led by three RBI from Nikki Weese. Megan Morrow pitched a complete game, striking out seven.

Napanee’s 1-6 record left them short of qualifying for the main playoffs but they were matched up against the Sabres in a one game seventh versus eight playoff game. Napanee again emerged victorious, this time by a score of 14-8. Chi Suzuki and Tannis Drover each cashed a pair of runs for Napanee. Jordanna Hartley tossed four innings for Napanee while Megan morrow pitched the final three.

“The whole team played well,” said coach Morrow. “They played as well as they could.”

The Express’ Emily Proderick was named a tournament all-star as she batted .389 for the week. Weese, one of the younger players in the tournament at 17, didn’t look out of place at all as one of the Express’ best hitters.

One cool feature about the tournament was it was held at the same facility as the U17 Boys Fast Pitch Canadians. That meant there was always plenty of Napanee fans in the stands as the Express boys were also in town and each side showed their moral support when they had the opportunity to catch a game.

Their summer season now over, the ladies will enjoy a break for the final few weeks of summer before most return to their college or university softball teams. The players have already voiced an interest in fielding an Express team next year with the goal to return to Canadians, which are slated to be held in Quebec next August.

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