Three years ago, an under-12 Lethbridge Heat team had barely enough girls to field a roster. Three years later, the under-14 edition of the team are feeling confident that they can leave provincials in Medicine Hat with some hardware.
“It was very obvious that the talent we had was there but hadn’t been developed yet,” said head coach Tyler Fallwell.
“Over the course of three years, with myself and Bonnie, we’ve really put something together and unlocked the true talent these girls have.”
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Going 1-3 at last year’s provincial tournament was a disappointment for the Heat, but this year they believe they have what it takes to come out on top.
Much of that confidence comes from more time on the field.
“We’ve just practised more the past few years, and we’ve gone to more tournaments,” said pitcher Camryn Vandenbroeke. “So we’ve had more practice with other teams instead of just practising with ourselves.”
The addition of winter softball clinics by Lethbridge Minor Softball has also aided in a successful start to the season for the Heat, who came out blazing in their first tournament of the year.
“We went to Stettler at the start of the season [and] went undefeated. [We] won the gold medal there,” said Fallwell, whose daughter Lucy has been a bright spot on the team.
“In our second tournament in Okotoks, we got third,” Lucy said, “which was still a good success for us because last year we didn’t really win anything.”
In preparation for this weekend’s provincials, the Heat played an exhibition game Monday against tournament hosts — and favourites to win — Medicine Hat, with the Heat coming out on top.
The team credits their communication and morale as a big factor in their success.
“I think it’s mainly that we pick each other up,” said Vandenbroeke, “like if we make a bad play or we don’t catch the ball.”
Coach Fallwell believes that what the group has on the field has also really translated off of it.
“I think these girls have made friends for life, and I’m pretty excited for that,” Fallwell said.
The Heat will begin their quest for provincial gold on Friday.
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