The Hay River Heat emerged victorious at the U17 softball territorial championship following a pair of games against the Yellowknife Wolverines at the newly renovated Tommy Forrest Ball Park on Sunday.

“It was great. The kids were, they were just ecstatic,” said Heat coach Keith Pettipas. “I was ecstatic over the way that they hit the ball.”

Despite the Heat dropping the opener 13-11, the Wolverines needed to win both games to dethrone the defending champs, something they were unable to do, coming up short 12-4.

“It was amazing considering that we only had like three practices before going up there,” said Pettipas. “So we hadn’t been on the field very much with the kids. So it was tough.”

The lack of practices can be attributed to the flooding that affected the community in mid-May. However, this would only add extra meaning to Sunday’s achievement.

“The fields got flooded, (so) they weren’t ready for us to practice on early in the season,” the coach explained. “Because of that, being late getting on the field, yeah, it was definitely a very good feeling.”

Solid performances by members of the Hay River Heat, like that of pitcher Owen Pettipas, would help to ensure things ended up going their way.

“He hadn’t pitched very much,” said Keith. “But he pulled out quite a performance there in the finals. He was throwing as hard as he could. He did all weekend, so he was quite impressive.”

Wendy Malkin, who coached the Yellowknife squad, also had words of praise for the Heat’s hurler.

“Our team played really well, they were solid on the bat,” she said. “Hay River has a really good pitcher.”

“For the first game, he wasn’t pitching to what he could, so we were able to get a lot of hits out of them,” she continued. “The second game, he really pulled through and he pitched amazingly. We just struggled at getting the hits.”

For Malkin and the Wolverines, the crew will be getting a lot of practices in during the offseason to help prepare for the road ahead.

As for the Heat, following their win at the territorial championship, Keith Pettipas said that plans are in motion to head to the 2022 Western Canadian Championships in hopes of making some noise in Alberta.

The U17 championships will take place from Aug. 4 to 7 in St. Albert.

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