By Darryl G. Smart
When Courtney Gilbert came up with the idea to launch a softball program that focused on development first, she didn’t think it would immediately harvest provincial hardware. In its first full season, one of her D1 Revolution teams captured a Provincial Women’s Softball Association 16U Tier 1 silver medal.
Since the beginning of July, the Revolution took part and won the PWSA West bracket, beating LaSalle, London, and Halton to get to championship weekend in Cambridge. And over the weekend they took on the Whitby Eagles, losing the best-of-three championship series 2-1.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these girls,” Gilbert said. “Their team chemistry is quite special. Listening to them during their final gold medal game on Sunday literally gave me chills. I heard my catcher turn to my pitcher and straight up say, ‘man, I love you’ and that’s just a bond that you can’t fake. They really do love playing for one another.”
In Game 1 of the series, the Eagles struck first with a 8-4 win, before the Revolution forced a winner-take-all Game 3 thanks to a 7-2 win. Unfortunately for the Revolution, their magical run ended with the Eagles taking the title with a 4-3 victory.
It certainly is a far cry from some of the expectations laid out when the season kicked off.
“At the beginning of this year, we weren’t expected to be great. A first year program, with kids coming from more than five different teams and organizations, we were expected to average, Gilbert said. “The difference was that the girls weren’t okay with being average, and they worked their tails off all winter.”
She said despite the Covid-19 pandemic shutting things down, the team joined each other six to seven days a week for workouts, mental prep sessions, and team bonding.
“They got closer and stronger and nothing was holding them back,” Gilbert said. “Their hard work has paid off, and I’m sure that this second place finish will leave them hungry to hunt for gold next season.
“At the end of the day, I really couldn’t be more proud to coach this team,” she said. “They really are something special, and I think anyone who has seen us play can agree that they are so much fun to watch.”
Though it was a team effort, Gilbert said Chloe Hocquard was a work horse for the Revolution. She pitched all three games in the heat on Sunday, facing 96 batters over 20 innings. Throwing 340 pitches, she only gave up three earned runs, had 19 strikeouts. Offensively, she also led the Revolution hitting .364 with four hits, four RBI and a walk.
“We are extremely proud of our U16 team and their second-place finish in the PWSA championship this weekend,” Gilbert said. “Through a very tough, three-game series in the heat, these girls fought for each other every single pitch. We’re so incredibly proud of this team. But we’re not done yet.”