The Delisle Diamond Dogs captured the Softball Saskatchewan U14 B Boys Provincial Championship gold medal after a 7-4 victory over the Warman Panthers on July 8, at Glen Reeve Fields in Saskatoon.
Delisle went undefeated during the four-team tournament from July 6 to 8, and Diamond Dogs coach Jennifer Ridgewell was impressed with the way the team played.
“I’m so proud of these boys and they just had a wonderful effort all weekend. They worked so hard,” she said. “They deserve this so much and I’m excited they get to experience getting a gold medal.”
The Panthers struck first by scoring a run in the opening inning and the Diamond Dogs trailed 1-0 early in the contest. However, Delisle scored two runs with two out in the bottom of the third, after a hit from Jordan Durham gave his team a 2-1 lead.
Warman pitcher Keiran Laskowski retired the first two batters of that half inning, but Delisle strung consecutive hits and did not let that situation get to them.
“I’ve noticed with these boys all season that pressure doesn’t seem to rattle them. With two outs like that, they still come up to the plate; they’re relaxed and they just play like any other game, in any other at bat,” Ridgewell said.
Both teams failed to score a run in the fourth inning.
The first two Delisle batters reached base in the bottom of the fifth and then after a walk, the bases were loaded with nobody out.
The Diamond Dogs capitalized on that opportunity when the next three hitters made contact with the ball to score the runners and Delisle led 6-1.
Delisle scored another run in the sixth inning to go up 7-1 and the Panthers only had one more at bat left.
“We talked to the kids going into the last inning and said, ‘if this is going to be our last game, lets really finish strong’,” said Warman coach Kim Laskowski.
The team took that message to heart and got off to a good start to the inning when Owen Harms hit a leadoff single.
A few batters later, Jaxon Parenteau-Mawson smoked a double, scoring two runs. The next batter drove Parenteau-Mawson home and Warman only trailed 7-4. However, Delisle pitcher, Tom Norris recorded back-to-back strike outs for the win.
Ridgewell said she was a little worried when the Panthers started to rally, which induced a mound visit.
“I went out to the mound and I just said, ‘we’re in a good spot, we’ve got one out and I’m really confident in you guys’,” she said. “I think they all just took a breath and refocused.”
Even though Warman lost the game, the Panthers still took home silver and overall coach Laskowski thought the team played well.
“I’m very proud. I thought we really battled all weekend. We started slowly and I thought we kept improving all weekend,” he said.
In the round-robin the Panthers dropped a 15-0 decision to the Diamond Dogs and Laskowski was glad to see the team put up a better effort in the championship game.
“I saw a lot of maturity and growth as the weekend went on and like I said our hitting was probably what kept us in it today,” he said.
The provincial championships concluded the Panthers’ season and Laskowski noticed a vast improvement from when the season started.
Delisle will compete at the Western Canadian U14 Championships in Edmonton from August 3-6. Ridgewell believes the Diamond Dogs can be successful if they continue to play solid defense and hit well.