The Ladysmith Lightning U14B softball team is headed to provincials after three decisive wins at their Regional Playdown in Port Alberni last weekend. (July 18)
The Lightning are headed to Delta to compete against teams from across British Columbia. They will be one of three teams representing Vancouver Island alongside the View Royal Venom and the Langford Lightning. Ladysmith is the only team representing the central and north Island.
Head Coach Kris Kennedy says that he and the team are excited to head to Delta and represent Ladysmith on the provincial stage.
It’s been a season unlike any other for the Lightning. Due to evolving public health restrictions, they didn’t get the green light to play until mid-June 2021. That resulted in a condensed season where the Lightning have played around 20 games, a mini-tournament, and the regional Playdowns. The Lightning have only had time for two practices in the last five weeks.
“We practiced a lot before the season started. It wasn’t easy for the girls because it’s pretty hard to get up for practices two to three times a week when you don’t even know if there’s going to be any games,” Kennedy said. “I was happy with their ability to stay focused on hoping there would be some sort of a season.”
This will be the first time that the Lightning have travelled off of Vancouver Island since the pandemic began. In the past the team has travelled throughout B.C., even going as far as Reno, Nevada for a U.S. National tournament.
“The girls are pretty excited to get off the rock for a few days,” Kennedy said.
Softball B.C. and Softball Canada have extensive lists of precautions to ensure teams can compete safely in the context of COVID-19. On top of that, the host organization, Delta Fastpitch Association, have a set of protocols in place. The Ladysmith Lightning also have a ‘sanitation ambassador’ to make sure the team is adhering to social distancing and sanitation protocols.
One big change in the protocols is that family and friends can come to watch the games.
“To have the grandparents, parents and siblings be back is exciting. It feels normal,” Kennedy said.
The first game starts at 8 a.m. on Friday, July 23 and the championship game takes place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 25.
Kennedy and the Lightning thanked their sponsors: GNB Builders Inc, Lantzville Painting, Four One One, Ma Maison, McNab’s Corn Maze, Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty Ladysmith Branch, Save-On-Foods. Kennedy also thanked the Town of Ladysmith’s Parks and Recreation Department for working with the team to get back on the field, and the Ladysmith Lightning Executive team.