By Darryl G. Smart
Like almost every player that wears a D1 Nationals uniform, playing college softball is the ultimate goal. And over the weekend, the D1 Nationals U15, U17 and U19 teams got the opportunity to showcase their talents south of the border at the Winter World Series in Myrtle Beach, SC.
“As an association it was great to be able to have all three of our teams go down south – finally being able to cross the border and have some American competition,” D1 Nationals founder and coach Courtney Gilbert said. “It’s great to see our association growing more with more athletes developing and excelling in this sport and getting to the next level.”
All three teams represented the D1 Nationals and the area well.
The U17 squad got the furthest, placing third, with a 3-3 record, thanks to a huge Sunday that saw the team play four games in-a-row, with the D1 Nationals winning three before bowing out in the semifinal.
To open the tournament, the D1 Nationals were trying to find their game legs, losing 5-4, 2-1 and 4-0. But on Sunday, they bounced back with 8-3, 10-2, and 7-4 wins.
“We have a core group from last year’s squad with some great new additions so we were still figuring things out and had a tough start on Saturday in some close games but struggled to get a lot of offence going,” Delhi’s Avyree Sherman said. “Our coaches set up a team meeting and we collected ourselves Saturday night, talking about our “why” and remembering why we play the game, and came out playing hard for each other on Sunday.
“We were the talk of the tournament as we were the only Canadian team and we proudly let everyone know who we were representing,” she said. “On Sunday, our bats were hot and our fielding was clean.”
Among the excitement, Sherman and teammate Mikayla Kemper took the ball deep and over the fence for the first time.
“I hit my first out-of-the-park home run, pumping us up even more,” Sherman said. “We battled hard all day playing four games back to back and although it wasn’t the exact outcome we wanted, I’m very proud of each and everyone of my teammates, and I’m grateful to my parents and coaches for giving me this opportunity.”
The U15 team played well, despite going 0-4 on the weekend.
The U19 squad were 2-2, losing their final game in extra innings.
Gilbert said the trip was a resounding success, and a great recruiting opportunity for the older players.
“Some of our kids were able to talk with coaches and tour the local schools,” Gilbert said. “Our U17 team practiced at and toured Coastal Carolina University, which was an incredible experience for them to use Division 1 facilities and perform on a big stage.
“Overall, I am just so thankful that we were able to cross the border and make it south,” Gilbert said. “ I’m extremely proud of all three of our teams and their efforts this weekend.”
Syd Ebel is blazing a trail.
While the D1 Nationals have moved on several players to schools in Ontario, Ebel becomes the first player in the association to commit to an American school. Ebel has recently committed to play for the Briar Cliff University Chargers in Sioux City, IA.