White Rock Renegades ‘99 pitcher Tori Peterson throws a pitch during provincials last month in South Surrey. The ’99s are currently undefeated through round-robin play at U18 national championships. (Aaron Hinks photo)

White Rock Renegades remain undefeated at U18 fastpitch nationals

Pair of Semiahmoo Peninsula fastpitch squads prepare for elimination round this weekend

A pair of White Rock Renegades teams find themselves atop the standings through the first five days of play at U18 Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championships, and have set themselves up well for the playoff rounds that begin Friday.

The White Rock Renegades ’99 and Renegades 2000 – B.C.’s second and third seeds in the tournament, respectively – are each a perfect 5-0 at the tournament, which began Monday in Lloydminster, Alta. and ends Sunday.

As of Thursday, only four teams in the 20-team field remained undefeated, with Manitoba’s Smitty Terminators and Waterloo Ghost Gold the other two.

The Renegades ’99 opened the tournament Monday morning with a 7-2 win over Ontario’s Brampton Blazers Gold U18, and added two more victories Tuesday, a 19-2 three-inning affair over the Edmonton Warriors, and then a 7-0 shutout victory over B.C.’s provincial champs, the Victoria Devils ’99. It was the Devils who defeated the ’Gades last month in the provincial final.

“That was a big win for us,” Renegades ’99 coach Mark Dunlop told Peace Arch News, adding that the return of Hannah Finkelstein and Megan Parno from national team commitments with Great Britain and Canada, respectively, provided a boost for his squad.

A handful of injured players have also returned to the field, he added.

“Everybody’s back, everybody’s healthy,” he said.

Shaina Eyre, who was credited with the win, and Finkelstein combined to shut out the Devils in the pitcher’s circle, and Alex Ogg paced the offence with a two-run home run.

On Wednesday, the ’99s – who finished second at U18 nationals last year, losing to their older 1998-born Renegades teammates in the final – defeated Calgary Kaizen 15-0 and Ontario No. 4 seed Guelph Gators, 13-2.

The Renegades 2000, meanwhile, began the tournament Monday with a 3-1 win over Calgary Adrenaline – Alberta’s top seed – and on Tuesday, ran their win-loss record to 3-0 with victories over the Quebec Rebelles and Winnipeg Lightning. On Wednesday, they beat Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert Aces 11-1, and late Wednesday beat the host team from Lloydminster to remain undefeated.

The round-robin victories put both Semiahmoo Peninsula teams in good shape for the playoff rounds. The top eight teams advance to the championship bracket, Dunlop explained, but the top four teams get an added bonus of “double life” – meaning it will take two losses, as opposed to just one, to knock them out of the tournament.

“We feel like we set up pretty well for playoffs,” Dunlop said.

Dunlop admitted there is a little bit more motivation for his squad after last year’s runner-up finish.

“We feel like we’ve got some unfinished business here, to be honest,” he said.

“Losing in the finals last year, to the (Renegades ’98) – they were a great team – but we feel that this year we should be able to (win).”