Col­liers teen a real hit

Ex­pe­ri­enced softball player took small-ball game more se­ri­ously this sum­mer

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Kyleigh Gear spent her sum­mer play­ing a lot of base­ball. She’s rel­a­tively new to the sport, but the Col­liers na­tive is al­ready get­ting plenty of at­ten­tion for her skills on the field and at the plate.

Kyleigh Gear’s re­cent suc­cess in base­ball may come as a sur­prise con­sid­er­ing she didn’t play the sport much prior to this sum­mer.

But the Col­liers na­tive is an ex­pe­ri­enced softball player, so the tran­si­tion has been pretty smooth for the soon-to-be 15-year-old.

“Softball is more of a big­ger sport around my area,” said Gear, who plays the sport lo­cally in the Con­cep­tion Bay Cen­tral Mi­nor Softball pro­gram.

She com­peted with her Ron­calli Cen­tral High team­mates in a pro­vin­cial base­ball tour­na­ment ear­lier this year, which the school won (she re­ceived a top bat­ter award).

Her per­for­mance there caught the at­ten­tion of Mark Healey, coach for the pro­vin­cial girls’ 16-and-un­der team.

This past sum­mer, Gear was a mem­ber of that pro­vin­cial 16-and-un­der team. They trav­elled to Nova Sco­tia last month for an in­vi­ta­tional cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment. The team won three of its five games and fin­ished sixth over­all.

She mostly played cen­tre field for the 16-and-un­der squad.

“I try to stay fo­cused on the field and play my hard­est at all times,” she said when asked to de­scribe her game, not­ing too her will­ing­ness to look out for team­mates.

“I try to pick up other play­ers if they’re hav­ing a hard time or a bad game.”

Switch­ing over to base­ball was not a ma­jor chal­lenge for Gear, but join­ing a team full of play­ers from across the is­land (and none from her home area) was daunt­ing at first. But she grew more com­fort­able with time.

“Once I be­came com­fort­able with ev­ery­one, it was fun and very en­joy­able,” Gear said.

In ad­di­tion to play­ing in the Nova Sco­tia tour­na­ment, the pro­vin­cial girls team com­peted in a St. John’s boys’ house league.

“It’s a lot dif­fer­ent play­ing with boys,” Gear replied when asked about the ex­pe­ri­ence, stat­ing they’re a bit more com­pet­i­tive on the field. “Some­times they don’t try to have as much fun as girls are, which is good for us. It’s good prac­tise.”

Gear also played for the St. John’s Cap­i­tals in the lo­cal mi­nor base­ball as­so­ci­a­tion. She was named top bat­ter last month at the girls’ un­der-16 provin­cials play­ing for the lat­ter team, which won the tour­na­ment.

Her week­ends this sum­mer were booked solid with base­ball games and prac­tices, in­clud­ing a tour­na­ment with the team at Grand Falls-Wind­sor.

Gear is quick to credit her pro­vin­cial team coach Healey for teach­ing her a lot about the sport these past few weeks and help­ing her ad­just her ap­proach to hit­ting.

“Same thing with all the other coaches. They’re very ta­lented with what they do and good with the play­ers.”

The Grade 10 stu­dent will fo­cus her at­ten­tion on vol­ley­ball and bas­ket­ball for the next few months (Ron­calli is also de­fend­ing pro­vin­cial cham­pi­ons in softball). Look­ing to­wards next sea­son, Gear hopes to con­tinue play­ing base­ball and softball, not­ing coaches are eager to ac­com­mo­date ath­letes play­ing both sports.

“I’m go­ing to try and do that too next sum­mer, play both sports.”

I try to stay fo­cused on the field and play my hard­est at all times.

Kyleigh Gear

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Col­liers base­ball player Kyleigh Gear only re­ally picked up the sport se­ri­ously this past sum­mer with the en­cour­age­ment of a pro­vin­cial team coach.

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