Saints fastpitch team approaches season

By Dan Falloon, Portage Daily Graphic

The Portage Collegiate Institute Saints fastpitch team has been happy with how its preseason training has gone.

After opening practices early in March, the Saints will finally hit the field when they open the Zone 4 season Wednesday in Carman.

Head coach Cam Asham said the team has developed in that time, and should be a force to be reckoned with at the plate.

"They've been working hard in the gym, and we've seen a lot of improvement in terms of the offensive side of the game," said Asham. "We spent a lot of time in the batting cage and with some different hitting stations and so on.

"They've taken a lot of swings and it's translating into some good improvement for the girls. Hopefully that continues and it turns into some results on the field."

Asham said Leah Robb, who developed under ace Kelci Thompson, will be the team's go-to pitcher this year, while Melora Smoke, who primarily worked on her arm in practice, could also see time on the rubber this year.

"We hope to get her into a game situation and get some productive innings out of her," said Asham.

Six of the eight teams make playoffs, with the division champs getting a bye and the second and third seeds in each facing off for the second spot. The four remaining teams will then duke it out in a double-knockout tournament on May 23.

"It's definitely important," said Asham. "We only have six league games, and you need to qualify within those league games for the zone tournament.

"It's definitely important to get off to a quick start and we look to do that next week."

Asham said the team has been able to practice on a Republic of Manitobah Park diamond once and then spent some time on one of the PCI soccer fields. He said the team hopes to also head outside for its Monday practice.

The team will begin its tournament schedule at home on May 4 and 5.

"That's traditionally been our weekend for the last number of years," said Asham. "We're usually the first tournament of the season, and we have 15 teams right now. Hopefully we will get that 16th spot filled up."

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