Robin Carey’s teammates finished the season the only way they knew how, by playing the way Carey would have.
Carey, a Rock Heights middle school student, was only 13 when she died on March 23 from strep throat. An accomplished and promising baseball talent, Carey would have returned for another season on the Victoria Devils ’04 fastball team.
On Sunday the Devils won the U14A provincials at home in View Royal’s Centennial Park, defeating their chief rivals, the Fraser Valley Fusion, 18-1 in the final. It ended a hard season full of emotion.
Shortly after Carey died the team got together and made a point of playing in honour of her, said Devils ’04 coach Luc Fournier, adding some of team members really struggled with her loss.
“We met again before provincials,” Fournier said. “The girls said they’d play the only way we know, to go out and play hard, that’s Carey’s personality. She was gentle off the diamond, but intense and fierce on the diamond. The girls were motivated to honour her by playing determined to win the provincial title.”
Right from the start of the regular season team and the softball community alike came together and was really close, Fournier said.
“At times we’re rivals on the field, but it put it into perspective how small the community is. The spotlight was always on our team.”
Every tournament they entered people would come up to the Devils to share their condolences. Other teams would do something to honour Carey. One team put decals on all their helmets. Another held a moment of silence.
Last year, their first year in the U14 age bracket, the Devils ’04 finished 11th out of 14 teams at provincials.
This year, they knew they could improve.
The Devils’ went 3-1 in the round robin, dropping the only loss 2-0 to their arch nemesis Fraser Valley Fusion.
That put them into the top into the double-knockout playoffs where they ran the table, defeating the Delta Heat (04) 7-0,
Fraser Valley Fusion 4-2, and the White Rock Renegades (04) 4-2 in the semifinals. That set up a rematch against the Fusion for the final, in which the Devils came out swinging to win 18-1.
“Fraser Valley had defeated us in two finals and a semifinal of the big tournaments this year, 10-0, 4-3, and 7-4,” Fournier said. “We believed we were the deepest team in the tournament. We have a philosophy that we are only as strong as weakest link, and we are focused on developing all 11 players.
“When other teams relied on top five or six players, we didn’t, we were deep and through all the games in the sun those players got tired, but we were fresh. We could have played on for days.”
The 2004 Devils are Averie Kehn, Davin Fisher, Juliana Parkes, Kierra Fournier, Abby Hazard, Olivia Boulding, Mika Bolli, Emma Wright, McKenzie Hiebert, Karley Telford, Naomi Robertson, and Robin Carey.
The ’04 Devils co-hosted the U14A softball provincials with the 2005 Devils who had a tough draw finishing 11th overall.