With just two tournaments and a half dozen practises under their belts heading into provincials, it would have been easy to overlook the Kelowna Heat as a serious contender for a B.C. title.
But when all was said and done, the same character and drive the Heat showed all season came to the fore once again at their biggest tournament of the season.
An all-star team made up mostly of Kelowna house league players, the Heat captured the silver medal last weekend at the Softball B.C. U14 B championship in Surrey.
After winning eight of their first nine games to reach the championship final, the Heat fell just short in the gold medal game, losing 6-4 to the Richmond Islanders.
For a team that spent limited time together this spring and summer, head coach Scott Binne said the Heat’s exploits on the field in 2017 were nothing short of remarkable.
“I will never forget this team,” said Binne, whose Heat also won a gold medal last month at a tournament in Delta. “We started from scratch and finished the season as the second best team in the province.
“That’s unbelievable, these are great girls who put out a lot of hard work and were committed to other.”
The Heat blazed out of the gates at provincials, going a perfect 4-0 in the round robin.
In the playoffs, Kelowna downed South Surrey White Rock 4-3, lost 8-4 to Prince George, then ralled from behind with three runs in the sixth inning to edge Cloverdale 4-3.
The Heat then downed Prince George 10-6 Sunday in the semifinal to advance to the gold medal game.
In the final, Richmond built up a 6-2 lead before the Heat rallied back with two runs in the seventh inning. Kelowna had two runners in scoring position with the winning run at the plate but in the end, a fly ball for the third out forced the Heat to settle for second place.
Still, according to assistant coach Kurt Kover, any sting the girls may have felt from the loss was overshadowed by the gravity of their accomplishments.
“They were so proud of what they did, they were holding their heads high and celebrating the silver medal,” Kover said. “As coaches we couldn’t have been more happy with the season they had.
“The chemistry we saw in this team right from the beginning was awesome,” he added. “Some of the girls have been playing with or against each other since U10, and you could see this team come together immediately. And the other girls on the team just fit right in. It was fun to watch.”
The majority of the Heat players are from Kelowna and West Kelowna, with one each from Cranbrook, Penticton and Barriere.
The silver medal by the Heat added to Kelowna Minor Fastball’s medal collection this summer at provincials. Earlier this month, the Kelowna Elite won gold at the U14 C championship, while the Kelowna Jays won bronze.