Pitcher Kenzie Steele and infielder Lexie Sawyer with the D1 Nationals advance
to the Canadian U17 women's fast pitch championship
August 15, 2023
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - Kenzie Steele and Lexie Sawyer are Canadian fast pitch silver medalists.
The two ball players with the D1 Nationals, representing Ontario, advanced to the final of the Canadian U17 women's fast pitch championship, August 9-13, in Saskatoon.
In the gold medal game, the Fraser Valley Fusion, from British Columbia, edged D1, 5-4.
"I am beyond proud of this team," said Steele. "We fought so hard. Gold would've been insane. We were one run away, but to be second in the country is also super impressive."
It is the second Canadians for the 15-year old from Springfield, who pitched 5.2 innings, striking out four batters. A year ago Steele won a bronze medal with Kitchener UTM 2K7 Southwest at the U15 National championship.
"This is my greatest experience. It is the dream of every softball kid," said Steele. "Not many kids get to have this experience once and I've had the opportunity twice. I couldn't be more happier."
Sawyer from St. Thomas, D1's utility player, spent time at catcher, shortstop and third base.
"It was insanely fun. I loved the energy that everybody on the team brought to the diamond every game," Sawyer said. "We all had the same goal that we worked so hard for all year and that was to win gold at Canadians. We came home with silver, but in the end it leaves us more hungry for gold next year."
D1 (as Ontario 3) opened the 24 team tournament with a no-hitter against Team Nova Scotia and won their pool with a 4-1 record. In the playoff round, D1 edged provincial rival Whitby Eagles (Ontario 1), 3-1, on a home run by Emily Glazebrook, before losing to Fraser Valley, 5-4, despite out hitting their opponent, nine to seven. The Nationals responded by thumping B.C.'s Surrey Storm, 8-1, to advance to the final against Fraser Valley.
"Every single game stood out to me in different ways," said Steele, who heads in to Grade 11 at East Elgin secondary school next month. "We showed grit, comeback and insane fight throughout the tournament."
D1 shortstop Jana Want was named a tournament all-star.
Coached by St. Thomas resident Courtney Gilbert, a former NCAA players, the D1 Nationals attract players from southwest Ontario and play home games in Woodstock.
A week earlier at the Canadian U19 championship, Meg McCallum of Malahide, Jocelyn Shelton from Aylmer and Mallory Collins of Brownsville, won bronze medals with the D1 Nationals.