The 2016 U16C Softball BC Provincial Championship is set to get underway at Kinsmen Quads this weekend (July 1 to 3), with 16 teams from across the province converging on Cranbrook in search of softball glory.
The Cranbrook Heat will host the provincial tournament, stepping to the plate after Softball BC was left out in the cold earlier this year.
“It’s so awesome, the girls are so excited because they get to play at home,” said Teralie McCormack, tournament coordinator for the provincial championship, earlier in June.
“The girls are pumped. They’re so excited.”
The host Heat represent just one of 16 teams from the across the province, with teams coming from as far as the Lower Mainland and as nearby as Summerland.
The draw for the 16-team competition won’t be determined until a coaches’ meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday evening in Cranbrook. Print deadline falls prior to that, but the Heat’s round-robin schedule is set, though opponents remain to be determined.
Opening ceremonies for the 2016 U16C Softball BC Provincial Championship get underway at noon on Friday, with a skills competition to follow.
The hometown girls begin their provincial championship play on Friday morning at 8 a.m. before taking to the diamond for their second game of round-robin action at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.
From there, the Heat play at noon on Saturday, July 2, and close the round-robin portion of the tournament with a 4 p.m. matinee contest.
Playoffs are set to being Saturday evening at 7 p.m., culminating on Sunday with the bronze medal game (2 p.m.) and championship finale (4 p.m.).
The opportunity to play at home is an exciting one for the Heat, as the team has previously had to travel out of province or to places like Kelowna just to find level competition. The only relative competition around these parts for the U16 Heat comes in the form of Cranbrook’s U14 Heat, a reality that isn’t necessarily fair for either set of girls.
Joining the Heat in provincial competition this weekend are the Barrier Cedar Kings, Central Saanich Extreme Bullets, Central Saanich Extreme Heat, Chilliwack Crushers, Chilliwack Her-ricanes, Coquitlam Low Riders, Duncan Rivercats, Enderby Storm, Fleetwood Jr. Bandits, Kamloops Diggers, North Shore Thunder, North Surrey Nitro, Richmond Lightning Bolts, Ridge Meadows Bombers and Summerland Scorch.
“We hope a lot of these people, it’s their first time [visiting Cranbrook],” said Chris New, director of leisure services for the City of Cranbrook, earlier in June. “They’re coming here and discovering us. So they’re seeing the beautiful setting we have, the beautiful city we have and we hope these folks end up being future tourists, maybe future residents. It’s just another opportunity to showcase everything we have here.”
Softball BC was left without a host site for the provincial tournament as late as March. The Heat stepped up in April and were quickly approved, leaving a rapid-fire timeline for McCormack and her parent volunteers to pull the event together.
“The community support has been unreal considering how quickly we’ve had to put this together,” McCormack said. “It’s been wonderful.”
A handful of local businesses threw their support behind the event. A heavy-hitting host of local major sponsors chipped in, including Bridge Interiors (barbecue fundraiser and car wash), the Cranbrook Colonels Men’s Hockey Team, Cranbrook Rotary Club, Dacota Freight Service (Sam Steele Days Parade float), DSG Communications (team jackets), EB Horsman & Son, Heritage Inn (host hotel) and Skookumchuck Pulp.
A long list of additional minor sponsors also helped ensure the tournament got up and running in short order.
Softball BC and Softball Canada rules apply throughout the provincial championship.
There is a 90-minute time limit for all round-robin games, as well as the first 13 games of the playoff bracket. There will be no time limit placed on the championship game.
Any game ending in a tie (at the bottom of the seventh inning, or upon the expiration of time) will be broken in extra innings.
A variety of mercy rules are in place based on run differentials.
Teams are guaranteed a minimum of four round-robin games.