The Elmira Heat U10 team clobbered the competition last weekend to take top spot at the Ontario Amateur Softball Association West Qualifier tournament.
During the provincial tournament held in Innerkip July 12-14, the Heat first took on Wilmot, emerging victorious by a score of 11-0. The next game was against the Tara Twins, which they won 12-2. Next, they took their semi-final game against the PDP Lightning (Drumbo) 10-0, and the final match was playing Norwich, resulting in a 12-2 win for Elmira.
The stretch of victories earned a gold medal for the Heat thanks to an overall score differential of 45-4 throughout the tournament. The silver went to Norwich, and the Tara Twins snagged the bronze.
The team is in first place with a record of 22-1-1.
“They’re very determined, very easy to coach. And they push each other – they want to do well, so they take everything we’ve talked to them about … they take it all in and put it to work,” said coach Mike Brito. “Very hungry, athletically gifted group of kids that all enjoy competing, so it makes it a lot of fun to watch them go out and play.”
The team’s success came in part from its swift runners, who put pressure on the opposing team’s defence, along with a well-honed bunting technique, he said.
The Elmira Heat began training around the beginning of May, with the season officially starting in the middle of the month and running through to the Springbrook provincial tournament in mid-August.
The team practices are not set in stone, having around three formal practices so far. Often, they show up to their home games 45 minutes before to perfect baseball techniques before the competition gets there.
“We take that time to make sure we’re really working on some hitting techniques. We’ll work a lot on ground balls and fielding flyballs,” said Brito. “More about not just being happy with fielding the groundball but the proper technique of fielding it, getting your body in front of it.
“Getting your glove down on the ground and bringing it in. Catching the flyball, making sure that we’ve got two hands; just working on stuff like that … we take advantage of our warm-up time before the game.”
Brito is also the president of the KW Umpires Association, with his coaching career dating back to the late ‘90s. He began coaching the Elmira Heat last year, along with Scott Dietrich and Adam Snider.
The majority of players are based locally, with kids from Elmira, Heidelberg, St. Jacobs, West Montrose, Maryhill and St. Clements.
“The teamwork that they put together on the diamond is incredible. The things that they are doing is far advanced of what they should be doing at this age,” said Brito. “They really do enjoy playing with each other but also enjoy pushing one another in a positive way. They want to be the best, that’s really what it boils down to.”
To that end, the players focus on the overall team success rather than individual accomplishments, he notes.
“The one thing that’s good about our team is that everybody is contributing. So you might not have a great game today – hitting wise you might not go out there and hit all the hits we need, but you might go out there defensively and play really well,” said Brito. “Not every game is going to be their best game, but it’s to understand there’s other things they can do to contribute to your team’s success.”
Anyone interested in registering or for more information can email Brito at firstname.lastname@example.org