The U16 Twin Centre Wildcats boys’ fastball team managed to go undefeated and finish with gold for their first time at the Eastern Canadian fastball championships in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
“It was a great experience,” said coach Trevor Hehn. “The kids had a blast; to travel that far and go to a tournament like that and be undefeated through the whole thing – even though some of the competition wasn’t up to snuff – is a huge accomplishment.”
There were six teams in the tournament, including Antigonish A’s, Eskasoni Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Memramcook, New Brunswick, Dutton Ont. 2 and the Wellesley Twin Centre team.
According to Hehn, Eskasoni was “weak,” Newfoundland was hit-and-miss, and the other four teams were extremely competitive.
“Two years ago we came third in the same tournament in Quebec,” said Dylan Hehn, a pitcher on the fastball team. “And that was a pretty big kick in the teeth, for sure. So it was nice to go out and actually win for once.”
But what made this year so more successful for the team than previous years? Coaches and players alike attributed it to an increase in maturity.
“We definitely had a lot better chemistry this year than other years,” said team member Will Weber. “Most of us have played together for our whole lives – since we were 7 or 8. We’ve played together since then. And we just go out there and have fun; we’re really loose. We don’t play very seriously, and we just have fun.”
“It’s pretty exciting,” he added. “I’m glad we could improve as much as to go undefeated this year and win gold.”
All three sources cited the NB final game as a particularly memorable one, which ended with a score of 7-1.
“It was cool to play the New Brunswick team because they were probably our closest competition,” said Weber.
Other teams did not stand much of a chance: the Twin Centre boys defeated the Eskasoni NS team 14-1, the Antigonish A’s 10-8, and the Newfoundland team 16-0 in a mercy loss.
“And also winning against Dutton was a memorable game; it was the other Ontario team,” said Hehn. “The winner of that game got to go to the finals. So winning that was pretty big too, because that sent us right to the finals.”
They found themselves down against the Dutton team 2-0 after the fourth inning. After a controversial comment by a Dutton player was made to the bench at this time, the Wellesley Twin Centre team rallied and ended up defeating the team 7-5 in a game that went on until 1:45 a.m.
There were some difficulties over the course of the championships August 16-19, including a local heavy storm on Saturday that caused the games to be rescheduled.
“We had a lot of community support. We would definitely like to thank those people,” said Hehn. “It was great for the kids. We were there for them; I tried to make it all about them. It’s not about us coaches or parents; it’s for the kids.”