When the coaching staff assembled the roster for the Fraser Valley Fusion 2002 squad, it was clear they had an strong roster.
The team included an impressive mix of speed, power and highly skilled hitters who were also very sound defensively, explained Fusion head coach Jeff Donegan.
However, the coach admitted the start of the year would present a significant challenge.
“With a high turnover of athletes this past season, developing a team identity and a team-first mentality were vital to long-term success,” he said.
“So when we had the opportunity to play against older teams, we felt that it would provide the necessary elements to force our team to come together and really help bring to light the style and type of fastpitch we have to play to be successful.”
And that was on display over the weekend (April 20-22) as the Fusion won gold in the silver bracket at Langley Fastball’s U19 A/B Open Invitational Tournament at Noel Booth Park.
The Fusion won despite being two and three years younger than the competition, defeating the Parksville Rage 00/01 by a score of 11-3 in the championship final of the silver bracket of the tournament.
“We have such a solid group of hitters and great team overall skill that we can really use our adaptability to force teams mid-game to change their approach,” Donegan said.
“In the first two games, we let other teams dictate what we did and we couldn’t keep up. The moment we forced the teams to play how we wanted, away from their game plan, we were successful.”
Fraser Valley won their final five games, outscoring their foes by a combined 54-17 margin, defeating the View Royal Vipers 12-2, the Surrey Storm 17-5, the Richmond Islanders 6-1 and the Abbotsford Outlaws 8-6 to make it to the final game.
The Fusion’s championship dreams were also de-railed in the quarter-finals against Richmond.
With the score close and the Islanders starting to gain momentum, Izzy Nicholson stepped up to the dish with runners on base and bashed her first career outside-the-park home run to give the Fusion some breathing room in what would turn out to be a five-run victory.
“It was a game-changer,” Donegan said. “Ultimately without (that home run), this weekend may have ended very differently.
“It also unified the team and showed them that one at-bat, one play, can take all the momentum right back and help you get passed what is a very good ball club.”
The Fusion are made up of players from Langley, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, Surrey, Delta and Richmond.
The Langley-based team consists of Lindsay Bell, Rachel Brissette, Alexis Crego, Brooke De Jonge, Mya Galbraith, Shaneika Hollingsworth, Carlie Lawrence, Madison MacGillivray, Brooklyn Morrison, Izzy Nicholson, Nicole Sparrow, Hailey Graf, Kallie Henrotte and Maile Johnson.