A Small Town with Big Memories

After softball tans, loss of voices, nose bleeds, scrapes and bruises, heat exhaustion and a bunch of new friends Team Avalanche is now the Provincial silver medalists- silver's prettier than gold anyways.

It all stared on Thursday morning with the drive up to Castlegar. There were nerves in my stomach and anxiety running through my bones. On Friday morning we started our games in good ole' Salmo, a town of just over a thousand people. We went 2-0 that day; but don't ask me who we played or what the scores were, that seems like ages ago, and all the games mush together in my memory. Saturday was an early morning, after the second game that day we were 4-0 and therefore finished first in the round robin.

This brings us to playoffs. Since finishing first we had a simple game against the eighth place Penticton team. Those girls were not the nicest girls out there, and neither were their parents; cheering when our players were injured and making rude and obnoxious slurs to our team and the umpires. We killed them and were proud of it too.

By Sunday we were 5-0 and were feeling pretty good going into round 2 of the playoffs. Game one of that day was against the Cloverdale Fury who we'd already played once, and beaten in extra innings. We knew we had our work cut out for ourselves, but we came out on the bottom. That moved us down to the bottom of the draw, and in order to make it to finals we would need to win 3 back to back games. Sure enough, through many scrapes and bruises, we were in the finals. Playing at 8am, 10, 12, 2 and then the finals at 4 we were slightly exhausted. The ambulance had already shown up at the field for a few cases of heat stroke, so we were sure that we were keeping hydrated and cool in the heat.

Of course the finals were against the Fleetwood Outlaws, our ultimate rivals. Two years ago in Summerland, this was the team we whipped in the finals; although last time they were the ones who had to play 5 back to back games and we only had to play three, this year it was the other way around. And of course this is the team that was staying in the same hotel as us and had been telling us to F*** off while we were in the pool and they were sitting in the hot tub with some random Castlegar boys with their arms around them and beers in their hands. Nice group of girls!

Needless to say, all the other teams had wished us good luck, and were cheering us on, warning us of the obnoxious cheers they do to try to mess with the pitcher. Apparently we weren't the only team that weren't so fond of them! As we were shaking hands with the team we had just knocked out they're all saying "Come on girls, you have to beat them."

And so begun the finals. We got up scoring 3 in the first inning, and holding them to none. From there on it remained close all game, they scored some to tie it up, then one to get the lead. By the seventh inning they were up by one, we had two outs and if we didn't score we were done. Our big hitter was up to bat, looking very nervous, but she did not fail. A massive triple put us in good shape, and on the next slap hit she was scored. TIE GAME. That was the end of seven, so in to the extra innings we go. I don't think anyone would have predicted we would have done that 6 times, but we did. A 13 inning game was what we played, making that 41 innings played in one day.

As my brother pointed out- it was like one of those sporty movies where the bad team is in black and all preppy looking, and the good team is in bright colours all innocent. As a town of 1000, I'd say about least a quarter of the town was out watching this game, and almost all were cheering for Team A. I'll never forget the old Salmo lady yelling "Salmo loves you Avalanche" and at the end of the game running out to high five us all yelling "Thanks for the memories Avalanche". It really was one of those picture perfect battles.

So the extra innings start, and not a lot of runs were being scored, maybe one here or there, but for the most part they were "3 up, 3 down" innings. Until one inning we had a huge rally of nice hits, and scored 5 runs! Considering how the last few innings we hadn't given up a run, I think we could all taste victory, but being away team they had last bats so we confidently took the field. Apparently we weren't the only ones who were hitting because before we knew it they had scored 4 and it was a one run game. We made a double play off a pop fly and a throw to first, but not before their runner on third made it home. Yet again, TIE GAME.

In the sixth extra inning we didn't score a run, so we planned on shutting them down in the field and going for yet another one. We found ourselves in trouble when they had a girl on third and hit a huge pop fly, it was caught by our amazing fielder, but just not quite in time for the girl on third to score that run.

We hollered and cheered and run up to the mound hugging each other like nothing else. Although we lost that game, we were not upset in the slightest. Like we were saying- after a thirteen inning game, and 41 innings in a single day, we were winners at heart. We knew that we took the prize for the more sportsmanlike of the two, and that is just as important as anything. I think we were probably cheering louder than them which made them so mad. They wanted us to cry and be upset and we didn't give them what they wanted. The Cloverdale team was out on the field hugging us, telling us that we deserved to win, and then exchanging names to add on facebook- if you can believe it. Fleetwood may have came out of this with a little bit of fake gold, but we get to come out with complete pride, and a bunch of new friends. We know that there's more to a sport than the score.

As the Outlaws would be cheering "We are slowly putting pressure on the pitcher and the catcher" gradually getting louder each time, and "Come on pitcher, what's the matter, can't you take a little chatter", we were nicely cheering for our own batters rather than bashing their pitchers.

I learned a lot about myself in this tournament. I know that I have a little bit of competitiveness in me, but I've realized that nothing is more important than being sportsmanlike. It's as simple as smiling, and saying "nice hit", or it can wishing a team good luck, but whatever you can do to get a team on your good side makes all the difference. Even after we'd beaten Cloverdale two times, they still were cheering for us, and at the end of it all we were side by side getting pictures with one-another. Like my wise father says "You're never going to remember who won that game, what you'll remember is the friends you make and the memories you have."

Indeed team Avalanche did create a lot of memories this trip.
  • The most often used words this weekend were yarp, narp, and decent.
  • We learned that we loved Salmo guys, and were really stoked when we figured out "Decent" was our ump, but he was really named "Damian", and as soon as we disagreed with a call he made, our opinions on his appearance drastically changed, and even his name was changed to "Indecent".
  • I saw a wild moose for the first time in my life, and I felt strangely more Canadian. I learned that those long legged spiders are called DADDY long legs, not DANDY long legs.
  • We learned you look very funny when you pitch in skirt, and that our pitcher is the fastest in the province clocking in at 83 kilometers per hour "It sounds a lot more impressive when it's in kilometers than it does when it's in miles".
  • Team Avalanche discovered a bargain shop, and thought that a 24 pack of freezies for 99 cents is a good deal. Needless to say we stocked up and they didn't help calm us down before bed.
  • Sleeping in a Spiderman or Harry Potter themed room may seem a little amateur, but team A pulled it off.
  • I learned how runaway lanes really work.
  • Our team managed to injure 2 umps bad enough to send them off by ambulance.
  • On a late night hunt for food, we were quite surprised than neither DQ, Safeway or Shell were open passed eleven. As we told the two young guys working in Shell when the doors were locked and they wouldn't let us in "Come on we're from Vancouver, everything's open 24/7, and if it isn't there's something right across the street that is."
  • It is highly addictive, and hard to quit using yarp and narp as substitutions for yes and no.
  • Girls who you hardly know going into a tournament can come out as your close friends.
  • Nose bleeds are caused by the dry, hot air of the Kootneys
  • Moosecalls sound very unfortunate when you lose your voice.

So this may seem fairly snobby, but my favourite quote of the tournament was given by our coach just minutes after the finals "Well you girls are going to wake up proud of your accomplishments this weekend, those girls are going to wake up knowing they still have to live in Surrey." NARPPPP!

I'd also like to shout out to my large and supportive fan section. I had a total of 13 relatives in Salmo to watch me play! Mainly coming from Alberta, they traveled a ways; my Grandma even got heat stroke one day and was back out in the heat again the next. All the support was much appreciated, I, without a doubt had the largest fan base, and I felt very loved.

Salmo, we love you. Avalanche, I love you. Fleetwood, we'll see you again soon.


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