Ponoka girls head to softball nationals

Grandslam softball performances are sending two Ponoka girls far from home.

Sarah Willier pitches at a recent tournament. She and her teammates are heading to U12 nationals in Prince Albert

Sarah Willier pitches at a recent tournament. She and her teammates are heading to U12 nationals in Prince Albert

Grandslam softball performances are sending two Ponoka girls far from home. Amy Lank, a U-18 second base and centre fielder, is heading to the Western National U-18 Championships in Charlottetown, PEI Aug. 12 to 18.

“I’m really excited. This is my first year playing with the River City Hornets. They’re great girls, we have really good chemistry together,” said Lank.

She knows competition at the Western National Championships will be fierce, especially from Ontario and British Columbia, but once one of the Hornets starts to hit and play well everyone will feed off the energy and follow suit.

Although she hasn’t competed in nationals with the Hornets before Lank believes it’s the strongest team she’s played for.

At provincials, July 12 to 14, Lank and her teammates won first place after defeating Calgary Kaizen, 6-1. “You had to be perfect in that game. They’re a very strong hitting team,” said Lank.

“Although the score didn’t show it, it felt like a very tight game,” she added.

For Lank and her teammates, provincials didn’t take off the way they were hoping.

They lost two of their three round robin games and also lost their quarterfinal game to Calgary Kaizen.

“We didn’t really start to play good until the semifinals,” said Lank. “It was all uphill for there.”

Normally the top three teams from Alberta attend nationals but Lank says this year only two are going. “This is so screwed up, the Kaizen said if they didn’t first they weren’t going. They didn’t get first.”

Prince Albert nationals

U-12 pitcher and shortstop Sarah Willier and her teammates are attending the Western National U-14 Championships in Prince Albert, Sask. Aug. 2 to 5.

A happiness creeps into Willier’s voice when she talks about the game and already she’s looking forward to lacing up her cleats and stepping onto the diamond. “I just like getting to play overall. Just getting to go out onto the diamond and hit balls and take ground and pop flies.”

Willier also thinks highly of the girls she plays with. “We’re like sisters, we’re like a family. If we have a problem we take it on together.”

At provincials, Willier and her teammates won their first five games and lost the final to Calgary Kaizen.

Now they’re preparing both physically and mentally for the competition at nationals. “A few of us have quite a few injuries but we’ll play through those injuries.”

“We made westerns for a reason,” she added.

Aside from prepping their minds and bodies, the biggest challenge that comes with nationals is fstaying pumped and positive when trailing. “I’ll just say, let’s go girls, we made westerns for a reason. We’re going to lose a bit. Well, we might lose a bit, I’m not really sure.”