Four Maple Ridge fastpitch players are Canadian champs.
Maple Ridge’s Chloe Follett, Shianne Schill, Rachel Boles and Cassidy Affeldt, and their Fraser Valley Fusion teammates, flew home from Quebec earlier this week with gold medals, after winning the U14 Canadian Fastpitch Championships.
Affeldt and Boles were both named to the all-star team, based on their outstanding batting averages, with Affeldt claiming the tournament MVP.
“It was amazing seeing all our hard work and determination come together and it was even better being surrounded by my 12 ‘sisters’ through the whole journey,” said Affeldt.
“A dig deep, no quit attitude,” was how head coach David Quon described the team’s effort at the event, held in Montreal from Aug. 15-19 with 26 of the nation’s best teams competing.
The squad, formed from girls all over the valley and Lower Mainland, followed up a successful provincial season with a gold-medal performance to claim the Fusion program’s first national title.
The 2004 Fusion squad began their quest with a 4-1 record in the qualifying round against teams from B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Outscoring their opponents by an aggregate differential of 45 runs resulted in a third-place finish after the round robin, guaranteed double-knockout position going into the playoff round.
The opening game of the playoffs run pitted the Fusion team against the No.2 seed from Ontario, the Waterloo Ghost Gold.
Affeldt had a solid streak, pitching the final three innings in relief. The prospects for a win were quickly fading, however, with Fusion trailing 5-4 in the seventh inning.
On an 0-2 count, Abbotsford’s Reilley Coghill singled to drive in two runs and regain the lead. Langley’s Kayla White would add another to end the game in a 7-5 comeback victory.
“I think we won because the team never gave up,” said Follett.
Despite hits by Follet, Affeldt and Boles, the team recorded a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in extra innings in its second playoff game against Manitoba’s Smitty’s Terminators. Another loss would have put the championship out of reach.
Facing their provincial rivals, the Victoria Devils, in the next game, was a tight affair, as Victoria led 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Once again, Fusion came back to take the lead on a timely hit and didn’t look back, adding another that same inning to end up a 4-2 winner.
Schill spoke about the team’s constant come from behind wins: “It’s the support we give each other. We always have each other’s backs.
“We left everything out on the field at nationals. We all did what we needed to do for the team, whether it was making a clutch play or hit at the right time,” said Boles. “We never gave up and that’s why this meant so much for everyone.”
The victory over Victoria would set the stage for another, and final, meeting with Smitty’s, the top team from Manitoba, to claim the national title. Manitoba jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the second inning.
But the Fusion responded by scoring four runs at the top of the third inning, including an inside-the-park home run by Affeldt, eventually knocking Manitoba’s starting pitcher out of the game.
The game remained at 4-3 through the end of the seventh inning. Then the celebrations ensued.
Solid defensive plays by third basemen Schill and Follet, and catcher Boles, along with Affeldt’s arm from the pitcher’s circle all contributed to the tournament journey.
Team members representing the communities of Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission, Langley, and Delta include: Cassidy Affeldt, Emily Bancroft , Abby Bates, Rachel Boles, Kate Dubois, Chloe Follett, Jessica Heutink, Anika Janzen, Siena Jones, Maya Moreno, Shianne Schill, Kayla White and Reilley Coghill. Head Coach, David Quon, Assistant Coaches, Laurie-May Quon, Stacy Fournier.