Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rams looking to repeat

Girls fastpitch team from Stonewall defending high school champions

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It's not going to be a walk in the park and they might have to hit a few out of the park but the Stonewall Rams girls fastpitch team is poised to repeat as provincial champions.

The Rams are the top seed in the 2010 Girls Provincial High School Fastpitch Championship in Morden. It starts today, with the championship final at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Also being held this weekend is the Boys Provincial High School Baseball Championship in Portage la Prairie and the Provincial High School Urban Soccer Championships in Winnipeg.

The Rams will be challenged in the 12-team tournament by the W.C. Miller Aces from Altona, which includes shortstop Stacey Braun. She and a number of Rams players also play for the midget girls' fastpitch team South Interlake Phillies, which won the provincial bantam title last year.

"We've got a core group of players on our team who play together with the Phillies and have played together for a long time so that's a big factor in our success so far," said Courtney Kwasnitza, who is catcher for the Rams and the Phillies. She was a member of the Rams teams that won silver in 2008 and gold in 2009.

"It's pretty special for our team to be trying to win a second provincial gold. Our school has never really had a sport that we've always really won at so it's a big opportunity for us to try to win something back-to-back," she said.

The Rams team also includes first baseman Taylor Studler, shortstop Brooke Beckett, centre-fielder Morgan Dyregrov and pitcher Regan Lawrence. Along with Kwasnitza, the group are all Grade 11 players who will have yet another crack at the provincial championship in 2011 when Stonewall hosts the tournament.

Kwasnitza was a member of Canada's national female fastpitch under-16 team last summer for the Youth World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic, while Studler recently was selected to the 25-player roster of Canada's female junior team, which will play in the Pan-Am qualifier tournament in Bogota, Colombia in August.

Rams head coach Deanna Easterbrook said the team has been led by strong hitters that can crush their share of triples and home runs.

"We are a very strong, powerful team to play against. A lot of our girls play against each on other teams so this has been a great experience for them to be together and play for their school," Easterbrook said. "Our school hasn't had a gym all year because of renovations so it's been hard this year for a lot of teams, so we hope bringing home a gold might help lift up the spirits again."

In baseball, the top-ranked team this year is the Crocus Plains Plainsmen from Brandon. Altona's W.C. Miller Aces, the defending champion, are seeded second.

In soccer, last year's boys champion was the Garden City Fighting Gophers while the girls champion was the River East Kodiaks.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 3, 2010 C6

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