SPRINGHILL, N.S. - Springhill is quickly becoming baseball central when it comes to national competition.
Several days ago, Springhill teens Brady and Kenzie Rushton and Mats and Nate Stone headed to the Canadian Under-18 Baseball Championships in Fort McMurray, Alta., picked up by the Truro Bearcats
Now, two more are set to compete in Bedford at the Baseball Canada Under-16 Girls Championships as members of Team Nova Scotia.
“I’m so excited and nervous, I can’t wait to go,” 13-year-old Avery Smith said. “It’s going to be great to be playing against the best girls in Canada.”
Smith, who came up through the Springhill minor baseball system, played Peewee AAA baseball in Truro last season after a year of Amherst Little League.
This season, she has been doing double duty with the provincial girls’ team as well as the Springhill Fencebusters Peewee AA team.
She was first introduced to the provincial program two years ago and attended numerous winter ball sessions and Team NS practices and tryouts before being named as shortstop for the second team that will play at the nationals.
“I’ve been working really hard on my defensive game. I haven’t played a lot of shortstop before this year, but I’m adjusting and getting used to playing the position,” she said. “I really like it.”
The last two years, she has played with the U-14 girls at the Atlantic championships.
Alaina Porter, who played Bantam AA baseball with the provincial silver medalist Fencebusters, is attending her first national championship.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” said Porter, who is playing for Nova Scotia 1. “I’ve been practising a lot and thinking about it a lot, working on the mental part of the game.”
Porter said she has received excellent coaching and has learned a lot about the game.
It’s also the first time she’s played on an all-girls’ team and loves the camaraderie among the players and coaches.
She will play third base for Nova Scotia 1, but will also catch and possibly pitch.
“We have a great group,” she said. “The coaches are great to work with and we work hard together.”
Porter wants to win a gold medal while Smith, knowing she’s on a younger team than Porter, is aiming for Top 5. Both want to gain experience, so they can continue through the program.
They have also both played with Carly Jackson of Hastings, who is a member of the Under-21 team and had a tryout earlier this summer for Team Canada.
A bit of a highlight for both Smith and Porter was several weeks ago when the Nova Scotia girls defeated the Amherst Athletics in a Bluenose league game in Amherst – a game in which Smith drove in the winning run with a single down the left-field line in the top of the seventh.
Nova Scotia 1 opens on Aug. 23 against British Columbia while Smith’s Team Nova Scotia 2 opens the same day against Newfoundland and Labrador.
The tournament can be followed on Baseball Canada’s website