Danika Bergenn of the Ice girls under-16 B rep team warms up prior to a game against Cawston at Columbia Park Field. The Ice Girls, featuring players from Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna and Kelowna. Bergenn is one of three Penticton players on the team, including Tallon Stephenson and Brooke Hall-Eckes. Emanuel Sequeira/Western News

Ice girls growing as a team

The Penticton Ice Girls closeness helps them perform on the field

The Penticton Ice Girls have been together since last fall.

Training together over the fall and winter helped the under-16B rep fastball team become a close group. It doesn’t matter that they are from all over the Okanagan (Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, Kelowna and Lake Country).

Kelowna’s Jaden Allen said the team feels like home. Allen loves the fact the teammates accept each other.

“They are just amazing,” she said.

Summerland’s Ryan Taylor loves every one of them. They are great friends, not just teammates.

“It’s a great feeling when everybody feels united. You feel more confident as a team going on the field, you feel like you can win the game,” she said. “If you mess up, someone has your back.”

The quick-developing friendships has delivered results on the field, though the start was a slow going winless in five games in their first tournament. It has gone better since in tournament action and playing in a under-19 C league, in which they have won four of seven games.

“What we’re trying to do is get them into their rep mentality. By doing that we’re just teaching all this new stuff that they have never seen before,” said Ice Girls coach Jeff Korven. “In house it’s play everyone, bat everyone. In this, it’s play nine and bat nine. You have got to earn your spot.”

Danika Bergenn of Penticton is loving the season and adjusting to Korven’s coaching.

“I had always wanted to play rep ball,” said Bergenn. “I always wanted to be super competitive. Learn all the signals and the different types of pitches and take it to a whole other level.”

Facing older competition isn’t bad she said and it is based on their fear level.

“If you step on the field and you are confident, then you are going to do just fine,” she said. “If you have faith in your coach and what he is telling you to do, you will do fine. We always try our best. We don’t get down on each other when making mistakes.”

Related: Ice Girls U16 rep team gets stronger

Allen, who has been playing for 11 years, said it has been challenging against older teams.

“There are some teams that are stronger, which makes us want to fight for the win more,” said Allen. “It makes us push ourselves even more.”

Korven said they have been phenomenal in responding to older competition. The butterflies are gone.

“They believe in themselves,” he said.

After hitting the midway mark of their season last week, losing to Cawston (which placed third in provincials last year) twice, the Ice Girls lost 6-5 in extra innings of their quarter-final match against Abbotsford in an Aldergrove tournament. Korven wants to see the players continue to play well and said they have improved by “leaps and bounds.”

“They are finally starting to think like ball players,” he said. “I need them to see exactly how good they have to be to play at this level. We’re going to be playing a lot of good teams.”

The best will come in the Canada Cup International Softball Championship July 7 to 17. The championship features a Women’s International and Elite division, Futures under-19 18U Gold/A & U18 A/B and Showcase under-16 A as well as A/B division.

“Every one of these teams is phenomenal. We’re just blessed to be invited to go to this,” said Korven.”This will be the highlight of these girls softball lives.”

Just mentioning the Canada Cup and faces light up.

“We can kind of go there and there is scouts watching. With the scouts there you have to be confident,” said Bergenn, who has made big improvements in her skills. “That will be really fun.”

“It’s such a big opportunity,” said Taylor. “You get to play a better level of ball. Everybody on the team is competitive.”

“I’m really excited for this. I want to see how the teams are,” said Allen. “I want to play against them so badly. I want to push myself even more and fight for that win. We definitely want to win that.”

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