Some of Lacombe’s softball players came home last weekend sporting some new hardware.
At the Alberta U19 Provincial Softball Championship on June 30th, Lacombe Matrix defeated the Amisk Heat 12-3 to capture the gold medal.
Lacombe Matrix catcher Brooke McBurney said that having the gold medal was an incredible feeling.
“It feels great,” said McBurney. She added that some players only get to play in the provincial tournament once in their lives and for many of her teammates it would be their last time at provincials in minor ball.
Coach Martin Sherrer said the record for the Lacombe Matrix was only so-so during the season. He said they were fairly even between wins and losses but a strong performance and winning a tournament the weekend before provincials proved the team could work well together.
Lacombe Matrix is made up of a hodgepodge of players from different communities. Players from Ponoka, Red Deer as well as Lacombe all appear on the roster. McBurney said getting to know the other players, most of who hadn’t even met before, was the biggest obstacle to overcome as a team. She added the team’s improved performance was a result of the players building some chemistry.
“I think we just became more comfortable around each other because we got to know each other better and we became more of a team,” said McBurney.
“It was a throw-together team,” he said. “It took a little while to come together, but with some practice and some dedication from the girls it started to pay off.”
Going into provincials, Sherrer and the team were unsure of how they would do. He said if the team had won only half of their games, he would have considered it a success.
However, the team performed much better than that. Lacombe Matrix won five out of six games, including those in the provincial playoffs and captured the gold medal. It was after winning their last round robin game to secure a place in provincial playoffs that the team started to think they had a shot at the championship, said Sherrer.
However, McBurney was beginning to feel more comfortable as soon as the second game in the round robin. McBurney said the team was hitting well, fielding well and having a good time.
Having fun was important to the team, said McBurney. She added that, when the team was having fun, the tended to play well. If they weren’t having fun, something was going wrong.
Both Sherrer and McBurney said that Lacombe Matrix went into provincials acting like they could win the tournament. Sherrer added that players were even a little cocky, but when it came time to put up or shut up, they were able to put their money where their mouths were.
“They acted like they could win and then they put it together on the field,” said Sherrer.
The tournament was not without its challenges though. McBurney said that in the semi-final, Lacombe’s opponents were one run away from winning the game in the final inning, making for a tense match.
At the end of the gold medal match, Lacombe Matrix was overjoyed with the outcome.
“They were ecstatic,” said Sherrer. “They couldn’t believe that they had managed to pull a so-so season together and peak just at the right time.”
Sherrer said that the team excelled because, while Lacombe Matrix was not exceptionally skilled in every aspect of the game, each player had certain skills and they were able to play a style of ball that capitalized on what skills the team did have.
He added that hitting improved greatly throughout the season and Lacombe’s pitching was, in his mind, the best at provincials.
“We have some really good local talents,” said Sherrer.