Elizabeth Boisclair of the Chilliwack Rampage avoids the tag at third by Sommer Snoblen of the Vernon Velocity in the Vernon Invitational Minor Fastball Tournament Saturday at the DND fields. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Thunder strike Velocity in playoff thriller

Vernon Invitational Minor Fastball Tournament attracts 31 teams

The Kelowna Thunder trimmed Vernon MQN Architects Velocity 11-10 in sudden-death Squirt Division playoff action in the Vernon Invitational Minor Fastball Tournament Sunday at the DND diamonds.

There were 31 teams and 370 players in the annual extravaganza.

Velocity Pitcher McKayla Barker went a solid four innings, striking out seven batters, while third baseman McKayla Bonneau went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Catcher Hailee Fleck went 2-for-2 with a home run while scoring three times.

The MQN Architects opened with a 20-18 loss to the Enderby Storm with Fleck chased from the mound in the second inning after giving up six hits.

Left fielder McKayla Bonneau went 3-for-3 and stole home in a close play for the first Vernon run. Shortstop Kiera Horton smacked a long ball to centre field.

In Game 2, Barker and Fleck sparkled on the hill as the Velocity grounded the Kelowna Cougars 15-10.

Barker hurled a gem, going three innings and striking out six. Fleck held Kelowna scoreless and fanned two in relief. Bonneau, playing first base, hit two singles and scored twice.

The Velocity bowed 17-4 to the Trail Stealers in their final pool game with Fleck stroking a homer.

Said Velocity coach Kurt Lahey: “It is incredible to see these young players develop each week. I think we have the pitching figured out. Now we just need to concentrate on scoring more runs.”

In U14 Pee Wee girls play, the Vernon UniFirst Velocity fell 9-1 to the Kelowna Cobras in sudden-death playoff action.

Pitcher Jordyn Topping enjoyed a good outing by striking out a pair and giving up two runs in two innings work. First Baseman Maddie Blazek supplied one hit and scored Vernon’s run. Centre fielder Kiye Laiye Cuthbert made an incredible throw to catcher Lily Roberts to tag out the sliding Kelowna runner.

The Unifirst crew lost 10-7 to the Cloverdale Blue Diamonds in their tourney opener

Topping pitched two innings and mowed down four batters and allowed two runs, while second baseman Cuthbert made a fabulous catch in the second inning. First baseman Tyler Kershaw was 2-for-2, stole three bases and scored twice. Cloverdale ended up first.

Topping and Rachel Snobelen combined on a four-hitter with eight K’s as the Velocity dispatched the Kamloops Frontier Sluggers 7-3.

Left fielder Jasmine Horton caught a long fly ball to end the third inning and stranding two Kamloops runners, while Roberts went 2-for-2 with a smash triple to right field.

The Velocity lost a 10-9 thriller to Enderby in their final round-robin game with Left fielder Emillee Lang supplying two hits and scoring once.

Coach Chris Topping’s comment: “We had a chance with the tying run on third with one but could not score her,” said Unifirst coach Chris Topping. “It was an exciting game for the spectators… It was a great weekend. We played the teams who placed first and third in the tournament and am proud of what we accomplished against them.”

Topping, who also serves as minor fastball president, said the tournament was a Major League success.

”There could not have been better weather for playing ball,” he said. “Everyone had fun and the scores indicated the teams were very closely matched. Visiting coaches commented favourably on the DND venue, the volunteers, and the professionalism of the umpires. Almost half of the teams were from outside of the Okanagan. Spectators were blessed with some good minor fastball. I wish to thank all of the volunteers as we could not have put on such a successful event without them.”

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