Being part of championship softball teams is nothing new for two Ponoka sisters. However, the most recent gold medals for Camryn and Sarah Willier is something that will never happen again.
The pair received gold medals on the same day in different games.
Camryn, 16, was catcher helping her River City Hornets from Edmonton capture the Under 15 ‘A’ division championship while, one diamond over, 19-year-old Sarah was one of the pitchers that threw the Lloydminster Liners club to its first Under 19 ‘A’ title in over a decade.
“I was lucky enough to play in many different provincial, western and national championships. What made this really special was that me and my sister got to win a gold medal together,” Sarah said.
Additionally for Sarah, it was her last minor softball event ever, as she won’t be able to play at nationals. It’s because she is heading out in the middle of August to Nebraska to play NCAA Division I softball.
“There’s definitely mixed feelings. It’s great to end off on a great note, but I’m definitely ready for the next level,” added Sarah, as she pursues a nursing degree.
“I have a few friends there, the coach is great and the town is very beautiful and very rodeo — literally just like Ponoka.”
Softball has been a way of life for over a decade and using it to help pay for her education was only natural.
For Camryn, it was a similar feeling as this was her first provincial gold. Although, it is somewhat more bitter sweet as well as special at the same time.
“It was very tiring having to play five games in a row,” Camryn explained, as any loss would have sent them packing in the triple-knockout tournament.
“I was really happy and proud for Sarah. Her game was over before mine, so I saw her sitting down with this big smile and a gold medal around her. I knew then, I have to get this now. It really pushed me through for that extra inning.”
That final game against Calgary’s Nose Creek club saw things tied 2-2 with the Hornets facing a bases loaded, no one out situation in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Hornets found a way not to give up the winning run, then score three in the extra and shutdown Nose Creek in the bottom for the victory.
“It was a tricky situation, but we just kept playing and the end result, when that third strike came, it all felt that this big huge payoff was worth it all,” Camryn said.
“Having nobody out, the pressure was on all of us.”
It was a somewhat interesting season for both girls, who ended up doing a lot of practising on their own. Although, Camryn managed to get more in with her team as Alberta’s capital city is far closer than having to drive to what’s best known as Alberta’s border town.
Now, while Sarah prepares to head south, Camryn will be getting ready for the national tournament in Winnipeg that runs from Aug. 15 to 19.
However, this won’t be Camryn’s first Canadian championship — as she went last year because the first place team wasn’t able to go. She added that experience is something she will be able to impart, along with a couple other players, to the rest of her teammates and hopefully that translates into a national title win.