Coach Byron Miki talks to members of the Kelowna U18 Heat at a team practise last weekend at Heritage Christian School.

U18 Heat in Golden State

Kelowna girls fastball team heads to Ventura, California for big tournament

Eleven athletes from the B.C. interior will be getting a respite from the midwinter blahs this weekend with a trip to the Golden State.

The Kelowna Heat U18 girls’ fastball squad is heading to Ventura, CA to compete in the 10th annual Tourney By the Sea.

In addition to playing a minimum of four games against elite competition, the Heat will use the trip as a bonding experience.

Fewer than half the girls on the Kelowna-based team have played together in the past.

“It helps to break up the tedious winter practises the girls have,” said Heat assistant coach Darren Bennett. “It’s also chance to get together and bond, to get to know each other better.

“We anticipate a pretty high-level tournament,” he added, “so that will be good for them, too.”

The Heat draws most of its players from within the Okanagan, with two others to commute this season from the Kootenays and the Shuswap.

In 2015, Kelowna finished fourth at the U18 provincials, then went on to win a silver medal at the Western Canadian championship in Lloydminster, AB.

And like last season, most of the Heat’s competition leading up to provincials will come from playing in the Okanagan women’s fastball league, with the majority of the games at Kings Stadium.

Five players on 2016 Heat hail from Kelowna: Shayla Tyerman, Danielle Knopf,  Sara Miki, Carleigh Maniago and Racquel Bennett.

The rest of the Heat are Tatiana Brazinha, Madison Foster and Katie Huston from Penticton, Emma Wilton (Vernon), Candice Vuong (Armstrong),  Gina Selfe (Sicamous), Jaedyn Foley (Summerland) and Danya Truscott-Plitt (Cranbrook).

The coaches are Boyd Tyerman, Byron Miki and Darren Bennett.

Meanwhile, the U18 Heat will be taking part in one of a record eight tournaments the Kelowna Minor Fastball Society will be hosting this summer.

Close to 140 teams are expected to visit High Noon Park for tourneys this summer.

In addition, registration for the 2016 season for the U8 to U18 age groups, is now open at kelownafastball.ca