U12 Bandits sweep 'B' provincials to win gold

By Nathan Kanter
July 17, 2017 - 12:08pm Updated: July 17, 2017 - 5:00pm

The U12 Battleford Bandits girls softball team was so dominant at provincials this past weekend in Estevan, that they mercied the other team in five of their six games en route to a gold medal.

It was the second year in a row they won the 'B' provincial title.

This year, the Bandits scored 79 runs in six games and allowed just 18, for an average margin of victory of more than 10 runs.

Head coach Darren Russell said all three of his pitchers brought their A-game, especially starter Kayli Cooper, but the team's strong bats also played a factor in the successful weekend.

"All three of our pitchers were a lot stronger than most of the kids at provincials this year," Russell said. "And our kids hit the ball way better than anyone else hit the ball. We were on fire."

The Bandit's other two pitchers are Maryn Kachmarski and Charlie Piller.

Russell said the semifinal against Melfort, which ended up 11-4, was the toughest game of the weekend.

He credited Piller with getting the team out of a difficult spot when Melfort had the bases loaded with no one out.

"[Piller] came in, she pitched and she struck a girl out, she put the ball into ground ball areas, and we got out of that jam," Russel said. "She really saved our semifinal there. If they would have kept going in that inning, they would have been right back in the game and who knows what would have happened."

What surely helped the Bandits perform so well in Estevan was the fact they played in a new league this season.

Three different Bandits teams (U12, U14 and U-16) played in the Alberta-run Girls Prairie League Softball, where the competition is a step up.

Even then, the U12 Bandits went 5-2 in the regular season and just missed out on the finals when playoffs rolled around, finishing in third.

"I think [that league] just prepared us way better than these teams," Russell said. "We were strong in that league too. You needed a little bit more."

At the U12 age group, Russell said another thing that makes a huge difference is scoring runs and getting extra bases on missed throws, which are called 'past balls' when the catcher can't block the pitch.

For the Bandits, that was never a problem with catcher Keyra Buziak, who was another player that stood out for the Bandits.

"She was by far the best back catcher at that tournament. She is freaking awesome," Russell said. "She really helped us out with telling the pitchers where to pitch and running the team kind of like a quarterback.

"Plus, she hits the ball a ton."

Given the dominating performance, one has to wonder why the Bandits are in the 'B' division to begin with.

Russell said it has to do with population and the Battlefords are right around the cut-off between 'A' and 'B'.

"I think it's if your draw is more than 15,000 people, then you have to go 'A'," he said. "We didn't know but I assume we maybe could have gone up to 'A'. I think we would have done just fine in 'A' as well."


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