Women’s softball is experiencing a resurgence in the East Kootenays and this weekend Cranbrook’s newest competitive fastpitch team will play in their own backyard.
The EK Xtreme, the competitive squad of the East Kootenay Women’s Softball league, play their first exhibition game on Sunday as they host the Elkford Glory Daze at the Kinsmen Quads Ball Park.
According to Jordan Foreman, president of the EKWS and general manager of the Xtreme, after a long off-season of training, the team is fired up to begin the season.
“[They are] very excited to finally play a game in their own community,” Foreman said. “Elkford plans to bring a solid team and we should see a competitive game with good action. Both teams have excellent pitchers and skilled ball players who have played for years and are chomping at the bit to get back out there.”
The EKWS and Xtreme are an evolution of the Cranbrook Banditas, who fielded a team for several tournaments, as well as the B.C. Senior ‘B’ Provincials last summer. This year, the program expanded and drew players from both Cranbrook and the surrounding communities.
While the majority of the Xtreme’s players have been training since February, after a long winter, the chance to play outdoors this weekend should help get everyone up to game speed.
“Our defense will be in better shape than our offence [as] we have only had a couple of outdoor practices so far this year. So, the girls really have not seen a lot of pitches,” Foreman said. “The same goes for our pitchers. They have been throwing consistently since February, [but] they have not thrown a lot of live hitting as of yet.”
The Xtreme play their first tournament of the year in Sicamous from May 25 to 27, one of three events they hope to participate in before the Provincial championship in August. Exhibition games like this weekend’s showdown with Elkford are important to the group’s success down the line.
“Finding that chemistry [on Sunday] will have a significant impact on how we will do in Sicamous,” Foreman explained. “Hitting off pitchers we have not hit off before, determining best suited positions for players, [and] what works and doesn’t work [is all crucial learning].
“That’s the great thing about exhibition games. They will show us exactly what we need to work on, where our girls fit in our lineup and what to really focus on in the next couple weeks.”
Despite the friendly nature of the game, Foreman still hopes to win and knows their best shot will come if they work as a cohesive unit.
“First and foremost [we need to] play as a team [to have success] — keeping positive attitudes, being encouraging and talking a lot [will] promote a positive atmosphere,” he said. “Skill can only get you so far. Learning to play united is what will help make us a strong, successful team.”
The planned start time for Sunday’s game is 1:30 p.m. and Foreman stressed the importance of community support as the Xtreme look to bring women’s fastball into the forefront of the local summer sports scene.
“[People’s] participation and support will have a very strong influence on the future of this sport in our community,” he said. “We really hope to get a solid turn out down to the fields to check out the action.”