For the first time, female baseball, only introduced as an exclusive program in Corner Brook last summer, will be part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games beginning in 2016 in Conception Bay South.
It has been determined by Baseball Newfoundland and Labrador that the tournament will be open to the 15 and Under age bracket for females in western Newfoundland who were born in 2001 or later. Players from St. Anthony to Port aux Basques to Hampden, regardless of experience or skillset, will have an opportunity to represent their region at the Games and be the first group of females to play the game in its debut at the provincial showcase of our finest athletes.
Last season, the Corner Brook minor baseball had 66 players registered for its first-ever female program and sent teams to provincial tournaments in both the Under-12 and Under-14 age groups, as well as having teams from Corner Brook and Pasadena participate in the Atlantic Under-14 female baseball championship held in Grand Falls-Windsor.
This year, in an effort to provide some of the older females with a game there is hope for the staging of a provincial Under-16 tournament in Corner Brook in September.
The team is being coached by Darrin O’Quinn of Corner Brook, who is president of the Corner Brook Baseball Association, and tireless volunteer Paul Briffett of Pasadena.
According to O’Quinn, movers and shakers with the female component of the game decided on the Under-15 age group for the Games because there were a lot of players who played last year and ultimately were done with baseball with nowhere else for them to continue playing the game.
“Some of them were almost in tears,” O’Quinn said of some of the girls who thought they were done with the game at the end of last season. “Their first year playing baseball and now they’re done so they want to come back.”
The best 15 female baseball players in western Newfoundland is what the coaching staff is hoping to attract and the welcome mat is open to any female athlete in the region.
Practice development sessions for anybody interested in wearing Western’s colours in CBS will commence Sunday 2 p.m. at Pasadena Academy gymnasium where prospects will get a clearer picture of what’s expected from them and begin the quest to be named to the team.
The team is expected to be announced in July. The plan is to have all prospects participate in the annual Mary Tavenor Memorial baseball tournament before final selections are made. That will give the coaching staff a window of six weeks to get the team ready for the road to gold in CBS.
“You can practice all you want, but putting a girl in game play versus practice is two different things,” he said.
O’Quinn is a numbers guy on a professional level, and it appears it’s no different when it comes to coaching.
“The goal for me is to walk into the gym and see 10 girls that I have to say ‘I’m Darrin, who are you?” he said. “If I see the same 15 that’s not bad, but if I can see some strange faces that would be great.”
He knows there are some quality players in the mix, based on what he saw from Pasadena and Corner Brook’s efforts in tournament play last year when the female game came to fruition in the city.
“My expectations for this team are very high,” he said. “There’s going to be some people used to contributing to their team who are going to have a tough time to make this team.”