Okanagan Elite softball squad off to Westerns

The Okanagan Elite U17B girls softball team,made up of players from Naramata to Tappen, won the bronze medal at the B.C. finals, and now advance to the Western Canadian championships in Alberta. (Facebook photo)The Okanagan Elite U17B girls softball team,made up of players from Naramata to Tappen, won the bronze medal at the B.C. finals, and now advance to the Western Canadian championships in Alberta. (Facebook photo)
Kelowna’s Cassidy Bank (batter) delivered four home runs for the Okanagan Elite at the U17B girls softball provincials in Richmond. The team, made up of players from Tappen to Naramata, advanced to the Western Canadian finals. (Facebook photo)Kelowna’s Cassidy Bank (batter) delivered four home runs for the Okanagan Elite at the U17B girls softball provincials in Richmond. The team, made up of players from Tappen to Naramata, advanced to the Western Canadian finals. (Facebook photo)
Enderby’s Ava Hawrys is one of a dozen players from throughout the Okanagan-Shuswap on the Okanagan Elite Girls U17B softball team, provincial bronze medalists and Western Canadian tournament-bound. (Facebook photo)Enderby’s Ava Hawrys is one of a dozen players from throughout the Okanagan-Shuswap on the Okanagan Elite Girls U17B softball team, provincial bronze medalists and Western Canadian tournament-bound. (Facebook photo)
Naramata’s Elle Woodman-Eglison, along with Kelowna’s Bella Di Palma, handles pitching duties for the Okanagan Elite U17B girls softball team. Woodman-Eglison helped the team win bronze at the B.C. championships, which qualifies the squad for the Western Canadian finals. (Facebook photo)Naramata’s Elle Woodman-Eglison, along with Kelowna’s Bella Di Palma, handles pitching duties for the Okanagan Elite U17B girls softball team. Woodman-Eglison helped the team win bronze at the B.C. championships, which qualifies the squad for the Western Canadian finals. (Facebook photo)

The pitchers come from Naramata, Kelowna and Vernon.

The home run hitter is from K-town.

Coming off the bench to make game-saving defensive plays is a girl from Tappen.

From Naramata in the south, to Tappen in the north, the Okanagan Elite U17B girls’ softball team has been known to live up to its moniker.

“We took the top 12 girls from the region and made one team,” said coach Ron Koch of Kelowna, after his charges qualified for the Western Canadian championships Aug. 4-7 in St. Albert, Alta. by claiming the bronze medal at the B.C. finals in Richmond.

(The Elite celebrate a home run by Enderby’s Ava Hawrys – Facebook video)

The Elite began the provincials with four straight preliminary round wins, then edged the Langley Extreme 05 by a score of 5-4 in the quarterfinals. Jade Brown from Tappen, who sat on the bench for the first six innings cheering on her mates, came on as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning. She made a game-preserving sliding catch for the final out.

Okanagan’s streak would end as they dropped a 5-4 decision in extra innings to Vancouver 05, and the Elite then fell 8-7 to the Cloverdale Fury 05 squad.

Their 5-2 overall record was good for the bronze medal and a spot at Western Canadian championships.

Included in the preliminary round was a come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Richmond Islanders. The Elite scored five times in the seventh inning, highlighted by an over-the-fence bomb from tournament home run derby winner Jaylen Moraice-Budalich of Salmon Arm.

Kelowna’s Cassidy Bank hit four homers at the provincials for Okanagan.

Pitchers Elle Woodman-Eglison of Naramata and Bella Di Palma of Kelowna threw well all weekend. The Elite have been without the services of a third arm, Jordyn Topping of Vernon, and won’t haver her on the field for the Westerns.

Topping suffered a serious knee injury at a tournament in Seattle earlier this season. She is slated for surgery this week, and expected to be out of softball commission for nine months-to-a-year, but will be in on the bus to cheer on her teammates in Alberta.

Rounding out the Elite are Ava Hawrys and Cassie Scott of Enderby, Sydney Kokestad of Lake Country, Lauren Towill and Mandy Oakland of Salmon Arm, and Marissa Scott of Kamloops. Vernon’s Chris Topping is a coach on the squad.

More information on the team, including a fundraiser to help the girls get to St. Albert, can be found on their Facebook page OKANAGAN ELITE U17B.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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