The Twin Centre U14 Wildcats won the Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) peewee C provincial championships last weekend in Stouffville, a gold medal to show for their first trip to the provincial stage.
“They just played like an incredible team,” said head coach John Rose. “They were all team wins. Everyone contributed in some way or another and it was fantastic to see.”
Rose has coached the boys for the past five years, working with them to reach a level able to compete provincially.
“I’ve been kind of just moving up with them as they have advanced,” noting that his involvement started and has continued with his son playing ball. “We finally went to OASA, we had thought about going last year, but the team really wasn’t quite there. This year I thought would be good and they just played fantastic.”
Even with their two lead bats out – one to injury, the other to family commitment – the team defied the odds and ended their first time at the provincial level victorious.
The Wildcats had a clean sweep of the C division leading up to the semi-finals, beating Ennismore 13-1, Grafton 15-5 and Springfield 8-4 before meeting Wiarton.
“We went undefeated until the finals and then we lost one game in the finals and then ended up beating the team. They (Wiarton) had to beat us twice to knock us out. We ended up beating them in the final game and ended up coming out the winners, which was quite an accomplishment for the boys. They did a great job.”
Rose noted that pitcher Sterling Grubb threw a one-hitter and a no-hitter, “which is tremendous at that level of ball.”
That’s the kind of character and development he’s seen all season, the coach added.
“The kids in general this year they have really come together. They are just a really good bunch of kids, just really positive. I’ve never had any issues with them. They are very supportive,” he said. “It is an incredible amount of pride to watch and it’s actually emotional to see them achieve this stuff that they have achieved.”
Rose credits the players dedication to the game for the success they have found over the season.
“The biggest thing about the team is that they never give up. We will be down runs in games and it will look pretty bleak but they don’t get upset; these guys are so steady they just say ‘it is what it is’ and get back to work,” he said. “It is really rewarding, I hope, for them – it is certainly rewarding for me. I am sure for the parents to watch them battle through adversity and find a way to win and apply that to life in general. It is great to watch them grow like that.”
Reflecting back on his earlier years with the team, Rose said they have evolved to create a team chemistry unique to the five-year relationship the boys have together.
“That is the chemistry that will make them successful next year and beyond,” he said.
As the season comes to an end, he hopes to take the boys past the provincials to play at the national level.
“We have some ambitions of going to the eliminations nationals at some point over the next few years,” he said. “I want to give them the experience of going through Canada and playing ball. There is a lot that has to happen before that happens, but they certainly have a good nucleus of ability and a good positive attitude to do that. It will be a lot of fun to give them that experience.”
With high hopes, the majority of the group, being in their second year of peewee, will be moving up to bantam next year. Rose would like to move up with the team as well.
“If they will have me again,” he joked.