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Defence first Fury catch provincial gold

Defence wins championships. The Foothills Fury proved the old axiom to be true allowing just 11 runs in a six-game sweep to secure the Softball Alberta U14 C provincial title in Lacombe.
The Foothills Fury gather for a team photo after winning the Softball Alberta U14 provincial banner. Back row from left: assistant coach Ron Zastre, head coach Dan Vassell, Jaylin Sonnleitner, Sara McLellan, Jessie Fritz, Hannah Vassell, Rachelle Zastre, Ruby Haden, Rhyan Plaza, Anna Henkelman, Reese Finney and assistant coach Mike Henkelman. Bottom row: Tessa Groeneveld and Alyssa Willard. Missing from the photo: assistant coach Darla Ridley and Isabel Schuck.

Defence wins championships.

The Foothills Fury proved the old axiom to be true allowing just 11 runs in a six-game sweep to secure the Softball Alberta U14 C provincial title in Lacombe.

“The key to us having a good weekend is the girls all came with a great attitude, “ said Fury head coach Dan Vassell. “They all came with hitting, they played awesome defence and had fantastic pitching. All three aspects of the game was all there for six games.

“They put it all together and played probably the six best games of their whole year in one weekend.”

Playing against the top teams in Alberta, Foothills allowed an average of less than two runs against per game.

It was no accident.

As Vince Lombardi said, perfect practice makes perfect.

“The defence was probably they key to why we beat all the other teams, we didn’t give up extra runs like all these other teams did,” Vassell said. “As a head coach I focus on defence a lot because you’ve got to be able to catch the ball to be able to win games.

“At the beginning of the year they were a little hesitant in believing in the philosophy, but as the season kept going further and further and they started to win games by defence they were started to get it.”

The Fury completed the provincial job with authority, putting up a 10-1 scoreline on Drumheller’s Pure Venom and ending the game by the mercy rule in four innings.

Starting pitcher Rachelle Zastre and closer Tessa Groeneveld kept the Venom off balance in the final.

“They hit around, the first three innings all they did was hit and then they just made great defensive plays,” Vassell said. “Throughout the infield and outfield, great catches, great plays at shortstop, second base, first base. Every girl was involved in this win.”

Coach Vassell credited a tournament victory in Red Deer in early June as the catalyst for the team’s terrific campaign.

“The girls figured out that if we hit, laugh and play and have a good time, we will be successful,” the coach added. “That was probably the turning point, from then on I think we had a winning record of over .800. We just rolled from there.”

Foothills won the Calgary Minor Softball city championship prior to taking home the provincial title.

They did so without a ton of experience on the provincial stage. Eight of its 11 athletes played Tier II softball the year prior.

“Softball Alberta they would like all teams to go to provincials because it’s a fantastic experience and they learn a lot of life skills there. They meet a lot of girls they’re going to see two, three years down the road when they’re playing more competitive ball or university ball,” the coach added. “Going to provincials was a first-time experience for them, just seeing the competitiveness, the intensity, it didn’t faze them. They embraced it, they loved it.

“Winning is now going to be contagious for them, they want to do it more and more and they know if they put in the hard work they will get the results.”

Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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