A single swing of the bat from Tim Folster made all the difference for the Abbotsford Yard Dogs on Day 1 of the Western Canadian Fastpitch Championships.
The Yard Dogs, the lone local team in the tournament, opened round-robin play on Thursday with a 10-2 victory over the Inuvik Huskies, the representative from the Northwest Territories. But they ran into a hot-hitting Lloydminster Steel Dodgers squad in their second game, and fell 13-5.
In their third game of the day, the Yard Dogs found themselves trailing the Delisle Diamond Dogs 3-2 heading into the top of the sixth inning. But after a sacrifice fly from Geoff Dodson knotted the score in the top of the sixth, Folster crushed a two-out, two-run home run over the centre-field fence in the seventh to lift the Abby squad to a 5-3 win.
“I was just looking for something over the plate,” Folster said afterward. “In that situation, you’re just trying to put bat on ball. Luckily, out it went.”
With their 2-1 record, the Yard Dogs finished Day 1 solidly in third place out of eight teams. The Bruno (Sask.) Merchants lead the way at 3-0, followed by Lloydminster at 2-0. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.
“Winning a close game like that after a tough loss in the afternoon is huge,” Folster noted. “We’re able to regroup now and go to bed at 2-1 for the day rather than 1-2. It gives us a good boost, no doubt.”
On the women’s side, the Carnduff Steelers and North Delta Sunfire were the early leaders at 2-0.
For tournament chair Harv Wiens, simply seeing the event get started on Thursday after more than a year of planning was a gratifying experience.
“It’s a relief,” he said with a chuckle. “But it’s been good – the turnout has been good for a Thursday, and hopefully it’s even better Friday and Saturday. It’s great to see the result of all the work.”
Day 1 was played under scorching heat – the mercury crept past 30 C on Thursday.
“As a spectator, to sit in it, it’s draining,” Wiens noted. “But it’s not raining, so we’ll take it.”
The tourney continues through the weekend at Exhibition Park, culminating with the men’s and women’s championship games at 1 p.m. Sunday. For complete schedule information, visit 2012westerns.theinsidecurve.com.