It’s an exciting weekend for 12-year-old Erica Wilson of Carlyle, daughter of Jeremy and Sonia Wilson, as she attends a High Performance softball tournament in Surrey, B.C. with the 14U Team Saskatchewan – South.
The White Rock Renegades Ice Breaker Tournament is being held April 1-3. There are a total of 13 teams attending which includes two teams from Saskatchewan, one based in Saskatoon and one based in Regina.
Erica has always enjoyed ball, and has been playing since she was five-years-old starting out in the Learn to Play category with the Carlyle Cougars. She has been playing ever since and has also enjoyed playing provincial ball with the Southeast Squirts, which has been made up of youth from Alameda, Redvers, and Carlyle in the past.
“I really like back catching and playing with friends,” Erica says of the sport.
It was through a friend that Erica found out about the try-outs for the High Performance team and from there was encouraged to try-out.
“There were like 50 kids out for the [14U] try-outs,” Erica remembers. Nervous and excited at each of the try-outs, Erica settled into the atmosphere and did her best.
“Originally they were planning to do one 16U and one 14U team, but they ended up deciding to take a North and South for both age groups,” Sonia explained.
There were two rounds of tryouts, one held in Regina and the other in Saskatoon, which is when it was decided they would put two teams into the competition a Team Sask – North and a Team Sask – South.
During tryouts it was nerve-wracking as people with clip boards timed how fast each girl could throw, hit, and run.
“You only had one chance to do it,” Erica explained as to why she was quite nervous at first.
The first cuts were made that day and all subsequent cuts were made through a website which listed those that were still being considered. When the team roster was finalized a link to the website was emailed to each prospective player and the girls checked to see whether they had made it or not.
“I was nervous at first,” Erica explained. “I wasn’t sure if I made it or not.”
Upon discovering her name on the list, Erica says she was extremely excited and has been enjoying and learning a lot from practicing with the team under the guidance of Nicole Verot – the Head Coach – and Heather Dzioba – the assistant coach – as well as other trainers who have worked with the team. Team Sask – South took a total of 14 girls with eight from Regina, two from Moose Jaw, two from Lumsden, one from Ogema, and Erica from Carlyle.
Practices were held in Regina over the winter and Sonia has seen Erica’s confidence improved as a result of Verot’s guidance.
“To me it’s been worth every penny, Nicole has really taught them confidence,” Sonia explained. “She’s told them if they make a mistake that they have three seconds to admit they made a mistake, see how to fix it, and forget about it.”
Erica is participating as a back catcher and has been learning about becoming slapper when at bat.
“It takes me three seconds to run to first base, so if I hit left-handed I’m closer and can be faster getting there,” Erica explained.
A slapper hits left and runs through the box as they make contact with the ball, thus the hitter is not only closer to first but it is already in motion to pick up speed as they hit. This keeps the defense alive as they need to respond to whether the hitter is bunting, slapping, or power hitting.
Erica is now very excited to be at the competition.
The bus left Regina on March 30 and the girls will have the opportunity to use the batting cages on March 31st in Surrey to prepare, while they will have some time on Friday, April 1, to practice on the diamonds before the competition begins.
Check back with The Observer in coming weeks to see how the tournament went.