Sports

Firecrackers repeat as Futures’ best

Tera Blanco of the California Worth Firecrackers pitches against the Ashburn Shooting Stars during the Futures Gold championship game at the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship at Softball City on Sunday. The A’s won 9-0. - BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER
Tera Blanco of the California Worth Firecrackers pitches against the Ashburn Shooting Stars during the Futures Gold championship game at the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship at Softball City on Sunday. The A’s won 9-0.
— image credit: BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

In the end, there was little competition for the California Worth Firecrackers.

The Firecrackers repeated as champions in the Futures Gold division at the Scotiabank Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championship. But unlike a year ago, when they had to rally from 5-0 down to defeat the Canadian national junior team 8-7 in the final, they were never tested this time around.

They were one of five unbeaten teams after round robin play, outscoring the opposition 48-0 in five games. They cruised through five more playoff games on the weekend, allowing just seven runs while scoring 53, clinching the championship with a 9-0 victory over the Ashburn Shooting Stars of Virginia Sunday evening.

American teams dominated the group for players under-18. The Delta Heat ’96 were one of just two Canadian teams in the final six of the 16-team double-knock-out playoff. The Heat lost 12-1 to Ashburn, while Ontario was blanked 2-0 by the North West of Oregon.

It was the reverse in Showcase Gold tournament, which saw the Victoria Devils come through the backdoor to defeat the Burnaby Oakeys 7-4 in Sunday’s championship game. The Devils had to win twice Sunday after losing 9-4 to Burnaby Saturday night. Victoria thumped the Delta Heat ’97 by an 11-1 score in Sunday morning’s semifinal, earning a second chance to defeat the Oakeys for the championships.

“The girls played fantastic right from the very beginning,” said Victoria coach Brian Wallace. “They were undefeated in pool play and undefeated in the playoff right up until (last night).”

Ten of the 16 playoff teams in the Showcase Gold group were from Metro Vancouver of the Fraser Valley, with the Delta Heat  ’97, White Rock Renegades ’95 and Abbotsford Outlaws ’96 also placing in the top six. Only the Lloydminster Rebels of Alberta was the last non-B.C. team in the playoff round, eliminated two wins away from a berth in the final to place fourth in the 18-team division.

There were 72 youth teams in four categories in the under-18 and under-16 tournaments, and Wallace said the Rebels will likely be one of those returning again in 2-13.

“It’s first-class, this is an extremely well run event,” he said. “There’s great venues, the girls have an opportunity to be around the national women’s team, some of the best teams in the world, and the women’s Elite teams.

“It makes them feel part of a larger softball community.”

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