Heat take long road to a championship

Delta team wins four games on Sunday to win national under-16 girls softball title

Perfect over six round robin games, the Delta Heat earned the shortest possible path through the playoff round at the Under-16 Girls Fastpitch Canadian Championships in Brantford, Ontario.

But a loss in their first playoff contest Saturday night left them with the longest route to a national title.

But the Heat endured in a schedule delayed by rain, winning four games in a eight-hour span Sunday, claiming a national championship with a 14-0 decision over the Victoria Devils.

The Heat didn’t leave the diamond Sunday, playing games at 9 and 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m. before the championship game at 3:30 p.m.

In a double-knockout format that usually tires teams that lose their first game early, the Heat thrived while playing 25 innings in the final day of competition.

One of just two unbeaten teams in the round robin, Delta was upset 7-3 by Devils Saturday evening. After  Victoria won once Sunday morning to get to the championship, they received a two-hour rest while the Heat worked their way through the losers’ bracket.

Delta began the marathon with an 8-0 win over the Burnaby Oakeys in six innings, scoring in every inning except the fourth. Taylor Gillis and Kennedy Bailey has three hits each, with Lexie Brenneis and Bailey driving in two runs each. Francais Olexa threw a two-hitter with four strikeouts for the win.

A grand slam by Holly Spears in the fourth inning was the difference in a 5-1 win by the Heat over the Brampton Blazers. Olexa and Marley Parker each had a pair of hits, with Parker earning the decision as a pitcher, striking out nine batters while allowing just four hits.

Parker was pitching again in game two, holding the Mississauga Tigers to a single, a double and a walk in a 1-0 victory. Parker collected 10 strikeouts, and also homered for the game’s only run.

In the championship game, it was the rested Devils showing signs of fatigue, committing two errors in the first inning while singles by Parker and Brenneis and a double from Bailey scored four runs.

Five hits and another Victoria error upped the difference to 8-0 after two innings, then the Heat tacked on another half dozen runs in the third to close out the scoring.

Parker threw another three and-two thirds innings for her third win of the day. Olexa closed out the game, getting the final three outs by strikeout.

Seven of the nine Heat batters got a hit in the final, with Olexa and Parker getting three each and Brenneis and Bailey each earning a pair. Cassidy King batted in five runs, three on a bases-loaded double in the third inning.

FOUL TIPS: The Heat placed six batters among the top seven RBI (runs batted in) leaders.

Kennedy Bailey topped the list with 13 RBIs, followed by Lexie Brenneis with 11, and Cassidy King and Montanna Tumovitski with 10 each. Holly Spears and Marley Parker had nine each.

Sam Pearson of the Victoria Devils with 10 RBIs was the lone non-Heat player to crack the top seven.

Lexie Brenneis ranked third among batters at the 14-team tournament, hitting .500 with 16 hits in 32 at-bats. Her five doubles was one off the tournament-high of six, set by teammate Spears. Bailey was ninth in batting with a .417 average.

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