The Winkler Wolves are Softball Manitoba’s Provincial U15 A champions.

“Sounds amazing, we are so proud of the girls and all of their hard work,” remarked Wolves head coach Maddy Rempel. “Reagan Doell and myself love coaching, and we are so excited to have gone through another successful season with this group.”

The Wolves won seven of eight games at A.D. Penner Park in Steinbach last weekend.

Winkler defeated Minnedosa 14-1; blanked Cross Lake 11-0; shutdown Steinbach 13-0 and lost their final pool game 4-3 to Hamiota.

The Wolves were perfect on Sunday.

Winkler downed Varsity View 10-3 in their playoff opener: blanked Wawanesa 5-0 in the quarterfinals; beat Hamiota 9-2 in the semifinals and knocked off KPIC Maintenance of Brandon 6-2 in the gold medal game.

“We took along a tremendous talented group of players to Steinbach, and it was great to see them all working together,” noted coach Rempel. “They all played very well. We had plenty of amazing plays, plus six total home runs. Our pitchers and catchers were phenomenal as always, and the girls ran the bases exceptionally every game. It was a great weekend for them all.”

Weather played a factor in the gold medal game with KPIC as play was suspended in the fourth inning because of thunder and lightning.

The delay lasted for about an hour before play resumed which according to coach Rempel proved to be very beneficial for her ball team.

“The girls were incredibly tired from playing three games almost back-to back on a very hot, humid and sunny day. A little bit of rain and rest really helped them to recover going into the final few innings. They entertained themselves by a dance off with the other team, as well as playing some games all together. It was great to see everyone get along amidst the competition between cities. When we were allowed to play again, everyone had lot more energy, and we scored a few extra runs, and our girls shut down their team, bringing the final score to 6-2. The girls fought through their exhaustion very well, finishing the game strong.”

Coach Rempel commented on their pool play loss to Hamiota and what sparked the team in their semifinal victory when the two teams met Sunday afternoon.

“Our initial game against Hamiota was tough, they were definitely the strongest team we faced this season. The girls were not on their game that day, and fell behind early, struggling to get quality contact against their pitcher. That, combined with a few fielding errors, made it hard to gain the upper hand. That first game we managed to come back just shy of a tie, ending the game of 4-3 in favour of Hamiota. When we met them again in the semis, I think the girls had gained some extra confidence from their previous two games that day against some strong teams. Facing tougher competition and still being able to score runs and make good plays really bolstered their enthusiasm and confidence.”

“The girls got on the sticks right away in that second game with Hamiota. Our pitchers Shayna Driedger, Brielle Thiessen and Blaine Wiebe all performed very well, striking out most batters, with our fielders assisting them by making some key outs when the other team managed to connect. Our only two healthy catchers, Cara Klassen and Megan Krahn performed phenomenal all weekend catching eight games in three days between the two of them, their performance never wavering. Unlike some previous games, we did not have any home runs from our clean up hitters that scored us a lot of runs at once. Instead, through smart and aggressive base-running, bunts, and on-base hits, the girls all worked together to come out on top.”

The 2024 championship marked the third year in a row Brielle Thiessen, Cara Klassen, Ashley Dyck, Megan Krahn, Blaine Wiebe, Shayna Driedger, Olivia Driedger and Taylor Friesen earned gold medals.

“I am not surprised that this is the third straight provincial title for many of our players,” noted coach Rempel. “This is an incredibly strong and dedicated group of girls, and I am sure this will not be their last gold. Winkler is fortunate to have such a strong program, which give the girls the tools and coaching they need to become strong players. Lots of volunteers have gone into building this program into what it is, which is part of the reason Winkler always has such a strong showing at these events across all age groups, and I am excited to be a part of it.”