This year’s team saw the return of 7 players (Kaitlyn Tucker, Georgia Martin, Sydney Sparanese, Hailey Young, Raven McKinney, Christina Bourassa and Jenna Saulnier) from the previous year’s team that went to the Junior Softball World Series. With the addition of five players (Stephanie Galitzine, Courtney Somers, Ashley Penney, Courtney Sjerven and Emma Bowman) we were hoping for a return to Kirkland once again. The team competed in the Canadian Championships, hosted by Hampton Little League. With a strong showing at nationals, the team advanced to Kirkland and the World Series, representing Canada.
Before the World Series, the team set a goal of winning 2 round robin games at the Worlds, which would qualify the team for a place in the semi-finals and a top 4 finish. Canada had never finished in the top 4 in this tournament, so this was a lofty goal, but we felt we had the talent and desire to make it happen. After an opening game loss at the World Series, the team came together and treated everyone to a fantastic week of softball.
After round robin wins over powerhouse teams from USA Central and USA Southeast (the 2 finalists from the previous year) we entered the semi finals matched up against perennial tournament favourites from Puerto Rico, representing Latin America. Despite underdog status, the girls played their best game as a team and won 5-2 with a brilliant pitching performance by Jenna Saulnier, error free defense, some timely hitting and aggressive base running. With that win, our team became the first Canadian team to ever qualify for a Little League World Series final. It also meant our final game would be broadcast live on ESPN, a little pressure but a big thrill to say the least. In the finals, our girls played great but came up a bit short, despite being in the game right to the end. All and all, the girls did us proud. They represented our park, our city, our province and our country with class and sportsmanship both on and off the field and we couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.
Well sports fans, another hardball season for our league has come to an end and I'm disappointed to say that for the 1st time in six years, the Layritz 11/12 team was not the best in the city. Having said that, our congratulations did go out to Beacon Hill for not only only being the best of 2012 but for knocking off the defending champions. Defending a championship is always difficult, but knocking off the former champion is even harder. After going 4-0 in the round robin, and winning their semi-final, our boys did all they could to stay in the hunt in the final game. When down early (8-1) they fought back in the 5th to close to (8-5). BH scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 5th and was too much for us to overcome. But no matter what, our Layritz boys upheld the Layritz tradition of never/ever giving up. The coaching staff and the parent group are very proud of the boys and the effort each and everyone of them put forth. We wish all the best for graduates Andrew Baxter, Cam Aitchison, Jaden Atwal, Jake Wilhelm, Joel Barton, Max Bodley-Scott, Ryan Broughton and Tim Yaxley who are all moving on to BC Minor baseball next season as 13 year olds. Luke Seginowich, Keenan Rancier, and Mitch Martinez - we'll look forward to seeing you over the winter and next season. I extend , once again, my gratitude and appreciation to my coaching staff, Dave Murdoch and Mark Baxter. Two men who only want your kids to be the best they can be on and off the field, and all only in a good way. The knowledge and skill sets they provide are incredible. Also I thank this year's parent group for once again being outstanding. You were constantly there for your boys and the coaching staff, allowing the three of us to do what we hopefully do best - coach. As I have said for so many years, it is a privilege and an honour for any of us to share a ball diamond with your kids. We too get to watch them become young men on the field and learn to be willing to step up and go for it.