The Central Vancouver Island U16B Rage have gained added confidence as they head to the softball provincials this next weekend.
The Rage came close to winning the Lower Mainland Cup last weekend. It is one of the major fastpitch tournaments in the province with 15 teams coming from the mainland, the Interior and the Island.
The Rage scored impressive wins in the round-robin events and went on to earn a spot in the final against the much-heralded PoCo Ravens, the number one ranked team in B.C.
It was a closely contested gold medal game that was settled in the final inning. With the score tied, the Rage had a golden opportunity to score a big upset when they had the bases loaded in the seventh with one out but they were unable to capitalize on it, said head coach Ian Kellow.
“I thought we had them, but we just couldn’t close it out,” said Kellow.
The Rage took the silver but came back home with more than just a medal, said Kellow. When The NEWS met with the team more than a week ago and asked them how they stack up against the best in the province, they said they could be a top-five team.
“After this weekend, they believe it now,” said Kellow. “It’s all about experience. In every tournament we entered we are getting better and I don’t think we have peaked yet.”
The U16B provincials will be held in Kelowna from July 6-8. The Oceanside Minor Softball Association will have three other teams heading to the provincials this coming weekend. The U19B, U19C and U14B teams have all qualified for the B.C.s.
“It has been a good year for us,” said Kellow. “We have four teams going to provincials which is awesome.”
The U19B Rage beat Nanaimo Diamonds in the playdowns to earn their tickets to the provincials in Fleetwood, July 6-8. Head coach Kris McNichol said the team is solid but anything can happen at the provincials.
“When you get there, it’s random,” he said. “You could face the four toughest teams or you could get an easier draw. There’s some good teams out there.”
The U19B Rage will have experience on their side having made it to the provincials in the last five years. The Rage play a lot of out-of-town tournaments on the mainland to get in shape as they don’t have a local tournament to play due to a shortage of teams in this age group.
“It is a disadvantage for us not to have a tournament to play in,” said McNichol. “There’s not enough teams here. You have to go south to take part in the Victoria league. But having played in tournaments in the Mainland has allowed us to see the pitching and top teams there too.”
The U19C Rage are also busy preparing for the provincials which will be held in Sicamous July 13-15. They are currently holding a bottle drive on July 2.