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P.E.I. fielding first squad completely of Island players at 16-and-under girls’ national baseball tourney

Head coach Randy Byrne, centre, speaks to the players on Team P.E.I. for this week’s 16-and-under girls’ national baseball championship in Bedford, N.S., during a training session in Stratford.
Head coach Randy Byrne, centre, speaks to the players on Team P.E.I. for this week’s 16-and-under girls’ national baseball championship in Bedford, N.S., during a training session in Stratford. - Contributed
BEDFORD, N.S. —

There’s something different about the Prince Edward Island team that will represent the province at this week’s 16-and-under girls’ national baseball championship in Bedford, N.S.

For the first time ever, the Island team’s roster is comprised solely of girls from P.E.I. The provincial squad had to add girls from Nova Scotia to round out the roster each of the past two years.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said 15-year-old outfielder Michaela Taylor, from St. Peters Bay. “We’ve been learning lots and have gotten to play a few games as well. We’ll be prepared at nationals.”
Karli Snow, a 12-year-old infielder from Summerside, agrees.
“We’ve got a great group of girls, but we are definitely going to Bedford to compete.”
P.E.I. begins play today at the 12-team tournament with games against New Brunswick at 9:30 a.m. and Newfoundland and Labrador at 3:30 p.m.
Baseball P.E.I. executive director Randy Byrne said its program was at a crossroad during the winter.

Members of the Prince Edward Island’s team for the 16-and-under girls’ national baseball championship in Bedford, N.S., practice in July.
Members of the Prince Edward Island’s team for the 16-and-under girls’ national baseball championship in Bedford, N.S., practice in July.

“Marc Pinet did a really fantastic job to start up a girls’ program during the last . . . couple of years, but we still really struggled at times to get a girls’ team together for this event and needed pickups for Nova Scotia,” he said.
In November, Summerside was awarded the hosting rights for the tournament in 2020. It later was announced as the host site for 2021 as well.
“Baseball P.E.I. decided we had to try something a little different and create a program for girls’ baseball which would feed players into our provincial (14-and-under) and (16-and-under) teams, especially considering that we are hosting the . . . nationals in 2020,” said Byrne.
In April, Baseball P.E.I. held three free indoor baseball camps for girls between 10 and 17 years old. Twenty-five girls attended the events and before long the provincial girls’ program for the two age groups was formed. Led by Byrne, Mackenzie Pinet, Tyler Johnston and Dave Atkins, this program started outdoor practices in early May. They have met once a week in either Summerside or Cornwall for 2 ½ hours working on fundamental skills, team concepts and other baseball activities.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” said Johnston, assistant coach for the 16-and-under squad. “We didn’t know if we’d get any girls at all. In the end, we had 17 girls between 12 and 16 years old committed. Let me tell you, the amount (of) growth and improvement in skills and just baseball IQ between May and now has been off the charts. They listen, learn and work hard. They’ve been so much fun to coach.”
The 16-and-under girls have played a few exhibition games against Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Summerside’s 13-and-under AA teams. Baseball P.E.I. will also be sending a team of all Islanders to the Baseball Atlantic 14-and-under girls’ championships in Fredericton, N.B., from Sept. 6-8.
“This program has wildly exceeded my expectations,” said Byrne. “We’ve got a terrific group of young women. I think we’ll do well at nationals, and I think the team we are sending to the . . . Atlantics will do very well too.
“Perhaps most importantly to me, all these girls are of age to return next year. We have an average age of 14, and at a (16-and-under) girls’ event, in which you are permitted three 17-year-olds, it just shows me the sky is the limit for these players.”

Related link:

    • Baseball Canada tournament website


Roster
A look at Prince Edward Island’s roster for the 16-and-under girls’ national baseball championship in Bedford, N.S.
Selena Ford         P/3B Summerside

Michaela Taylor    OF    St. Peters Bay

Carys Jelley         2B     Charlottetown

Georgia Gallant   RF    Summerside

Lily Atkins           C/P    Stratford

Alyssa Perry        SS/P  Harrington

Karli Snow          2B/P    Summerside

Gabriella Livingstone   3B/P  Charlottetown

Claire Keough     CF/P Borden-Carleton

Keirstin Rodgers   LF     Donaldston

Emily Gardiner    2B/P   Savage Harbour

Katie MacDonald  3B/P  Mount Stewart

Ella Nicholson      1B/P   Kensington

Emily Albert           RF     Kensington

Jeanna Pickering LF/3B  Borden-Carleton

Victoria Surrett    SS/P   Ottawa*

Madeline Arsenault  OF  Albany

Staff

Head coach Randy Byrne               St. Peters Bay

Assistant coach Tyler Johnston       Cardigan

Assistant coach Mackenzie Pinet    Stratford

Assistant coach David Atkins           Stratford

Chef de mission Jack McCabe        Miminegash

Trainer Tessa Hood                          Charlottetown
Did you know? Some of the girls were also on the first squad, comprised completely of Islanders, to compete at the 14-and-under Atlantics in 2016, when they won gold in Hammonds Plains, N.S.

* Surrett lives in Darnley during the summer.

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