A local softball player is following her dreams during her first year playing at an elite level.
Camryn Willier, a 14 year-old catcher, returned home this week from facing some stiff competition along with the rest of her club from Red Deer at the U14 female Western Canadian Softball Championship in Surrey, B.C. that ran Thursday, Aug. 4 to Sunday, Aug. 7.
Unfortunately, the results weren’t the best for the squad as they finished outside the top six clubs, but for Willier it was really all about the experience.
“It was great (at Westerns), I was excited and happy to get the opportunity to play,” said Willier in an interview after a long drive back.
“I knew the competition was going to be tough and was worried some about my batting.”
Willier need not worry, in spite of the lack of results for the team, as she accomplished something not often seen in softball or baseball at any level. During the entire tournament, Willier never had one strike out in her many plate appearances.
“My hitting has come a long way and I made contact every time up, managing to drive in some runs,” she said, even though she didn’t always make it on base.
Prior to this season, Willier played all of her softball in Ponoka at the ‘C’ level, but decided to try out for a higher more elite level of play last fall. Last September, she made the Red Deer Rage U14 ‘A’ club as one of their catchers and started playing with them when the season got underway in the spring.
“It was definitely tougher, but it was great to meet new girls and other teams,” Willier said.
“Over the winter, I did some training with the team, but I also went to a catching camp in Edmonton and both I think helped me become a better player.”
The provincial tournament, which ran July 8 to 10, was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time for Willier.
“We really relied on each other, trusted our teammates and became stronger, hoping we would win,” she stated.
However, that would not be the case, as Red Deer lost the provincial final to a club from Sherwood Park, who also wound up as the champions at the Westerns.
“It was okay that we took second, knowing that we would be able to go to westerns, but I was also happy for the friends on the other club for winning,” Willier said.
Another adventure and chance to improve awaits Willier and her Red Deer squad next week as they will be playing in the U14 Canadian Girls Jamboree Championship in Winnipeg, Manitoba that runs Aug. 17 to 21.
Willier knows it will be more tough competition, but she is ready to face the challenge.
“I hope to take on more competitive play as I hope for a future playing at a college in the U.S. on a scholarship,” she said.
“And of course, with softball back in the Olympics (starting in 2020), I’d love the opportunity to even try out and make the team that would play for Canada.”