Rebels sharpen skills on way to na­tion­als

Orleans Star - - LOCAL SPORTS - Ben My­ers

While Canada’s Cap­i­tal Fast­pitch League wraps up its reg­u­lar sea­son this week, many of its play­ers are just start­ing to heat up.

In their fi­nal reg­u­lar sea­son game, the Or­léans Se­nior Rebels took on the Ottawa Rebels and show­cased some well-co­or­di­nated de­fence and pow­er­ful hit­ting. On the field, the ladies par­tic­i­pated in some good-na­tured heck­ling of mem­bers of the op­pos­ing team, as well as their own.

For some, this cool Wed­nes­day night game is sim­ply a way to blow off steam af­ter a tough day at work or school, but for a se­lect few, it’s train­ing that could lead to a na­tional cham­pi­onship this Au­gust in Kitch­ener, Ont.

Erin Du­rant, who plays sec­ond base for the Or­léans Rebels and re­cently re­turned from the pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship, en­joys the laid-back na­ture of the CCFL.

“It’s a lot more recre­ational – not as hard-core com­pet­i­tive as we’re used to,” she said be­fore the game be­gan.

Du­rant’s com­pet­i­tive­ness, how­ever, is re­vealed when she de­scribes the team’s third-place fin­ish at the provin­cials as “be­low that we ex­pected.” Al­though good enough to qual­ify for the na­tional tour­na­ment,“we wanted to get top two,” she said.

Six mem­bers of the Or­léans Rebels have com­bined with some of their team­mates from the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa squad to form the trav­el­ling team that will rep­re­sent Or­léans on the na­tional stage. It’s a young group with high hopes.

“Only two girls on our team are se­nior-age,” said Jil­lian Tay­lor, the team’s ace pitcher. “We moved up (to the se­nior-divi­sion) to keep them, be­cause they’re good play­ers.”

This is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year the Rebels have reached the na­tional tour­na­ment. Last year in Summerside, P.E.I., the team col­lected a record of 4-4 and fin­ished tied for fifth.

De­spite the losses, Rebels’man­ager and CCFL co-con­venor Jim Tay­lor ex­pressed pride in his team for prov­ing they were among the best in Canada.

“It was quite an ac­com­plish­ment for us, be­cause it was the first time we com­peted on such a stage,” he said. He also in­di­cated he be­lieves the team could have col­lected a bet­ter record if not for a cou­ple bounces.

Un­til the na­tional tour­na­ment starts on Aug. 12, the Rebels will con­tinue to sharpen their skills in the CCFL play­offs in the up­com­ing weeks. Tay­lor and Rebels coach Scott Searle en­cour­aged their team to work on new tech­niques on th­ese en­joy­able week­nights.

“We have to play them strate­gi­cally, to re­fine and hone their skills,” Tay­lor said.

Though they’re play­ing against a va­ri­ety of ages and ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els in the CCFL, Tay­lor con­cedes it’s no cake­walk.

“We’re fac­ing good teams. It’s not as if we’re pow­er­ing through every­one.”

Photo by Jim Tay­lor

The Or­léans Rebels sharpen their skills in prepa­ra­tion for the Aug. 12 na­tional tour­na­ment.

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