Local girls help Heat softball team place fourth at Western Canadian championship

After opening the under-16 Western Canadian softball championship with three losses, the Kelowna Heat girls bantam team finished fourth.

After opening the under-16 Western Canadian softball championship with three losses, the Kelowna Heat girls bantam team finished fourth.

Helping the Heat accomplish this were Brett Needham and Candace Hamilton of Penticton as well as Naramata’s Hayden Craig.

“The girls played really well and Candace had one of her best tournaments of the season,” said Heat coach Darran Light.

The Heat, a B team, faced nine A teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta from Aug. 9 to 12 in Strathmore, Alta. The Heat managed to snap their skid as they mercied Brandon 22-2 and Edmonton 15-0 in three innings. With their third win on Saturday morning against Manitoba Thunder, the Heat were in a four-way tie to enter the playoff round. The first tie-break game was won against the Fleetwood Force in extra innings. They immediately played the Strathmore Thunder and mercied them to enter the playoff round.

Light said entering the championship they believed they could be competitive and be in the medal round.

“It’s a tough tournament for us,” said Light. “Saskatchewan is very strong. Placing fourth, it’s tough. We wanted to get a medal and had to beat Calgary (the Heat lost 11-8 after having a 7-1 lead).

“I’m proud of the girls,” he added.

Needham, who during the season batted .524, hit .444, while driving in four runs and scoring 10 times as the Heat’s lead off batter. Hamilton hit .357, drove in two runs and scored four times. Her two runs batted in proved important as they were game winners. Hamilton had a tough weekend at the plate, batting .269, hitting one home run. She drove in six runs and scored six times.