Aside from a gold medal conclusion, Kensi Renneberg couldn’t have asked for much more from the 2016 baseball season.
The 16-year-old from Kelowna capped off her most memorable campaign to date with a second-place showing with Team B.C. at the 21U Women’s Invitational Baseball Championship.
At the seven-team tournament in Halifax, N.S., Renneberg and her B.C. teammates reached Sunday’s championship final before falling 7-5 to Team Quebec.
Renneberg, a right-handed pitcher, threw eight innings during the four-day tourney, including earning the start in the gold medal final where she pitched four innings.
It was Renneberg’s third trip to a national tournament with Team B.C. but the first time she’s coming home with a medal.
“Honestly, it was incredible,” said Renneberg, who went to nationals twice previously with B.C.’s 16U program. “I never even been to a medal game at nationals before, let alone won one, so it really feels great.”
After losing their first two games, Renneberg was proud of her team’s resiliency in rebounding to win the next two in Halifax. In the semifinal, Team B.C. upset the favoured Ontario team 3-1 in 10 innings.
“We lost the first two games, but we knew we had more than what we showed,” she said. “Ontario’s always been a powerhouse and I think they thought they were going to walk over us. But we fought hard and dug deep, it was a huge win for us and the program.”
The silver medal at the national tournament was the latest chapter in what has been a breakthrough, storybook season for Renneberg.
The KSS student made history in May while playing with the Kelowna Sun Devils midget boys’ team. Renneberg became the first ever female pitcher to win a game in B.C. at the 18U AAA level, pitching 5 1/3 innings in a 7-4 win over the South Fraser Giants. She went on to win three games for the Sun Devils during the 2016 season.
Earlier this season, Sun Devils coach Rob Law expressed his thoughts on Renneberg’s talent and work ethic and what makes her one of the sport’s top young female players.
“It speaks volumes for female athletes in our sport, showing everybody they can compete at high levels with the male athletes,” said Law. “Kensi has a work ethic like I have never seen. I feel we have one of the best, if not the best female athlete in our sport. She is a coach’s dream.”
As much progress as Renneberg made as a player in previous years, she said 2016 stands out above the rest.
“I think this was a really important growth year for me,” said Renneberg, whose dad, Derek, was Team B.C.’s pitching coach. “As a player, I reached some landmarks, there were big stepping stones this year for me. There will be a lot of things from this year I can look back on and remember and build on. It’s been so much fun.”
Renneberg will take a few weeks off before beginning her training for the fall season.
In February, she’ll join Canada’s national junior program for a camp in Cuba, before returning for her second season with the Kelowna Sun Devils next spring.
Further down the road, Renneberg hopes to play for the Canadian women’s team at the 2018 World Cup and at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.