What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, the Langley 2001 Xtreme were at the provincial softball championships but failed to win a single game.
Fast forward to earlier this month (July 12 to 14) in Sicamous and the Xtreme capped off their season with the gold medal.
And the groundwork for the championship was laid at the 2012 tournament.
“We were in the provincials last year but as a first-year team, did not win a single round robin game,” said coach Robert French.
“But it was a great experience … and I learned that to really take a run (at provincials) you need to rest your core, not play them into the dirt.”
And that is exactly what the Xtreme did.
“Having a very strong team top to bottom, I played everyone, took rests as evenly as possible, and balanced the pitching so that when it came to the finals, my pitching staff had lots of gas left.
“Many teams will play one pitcher game in and game out, then run out of gas in the last game or two.”
In the gold medal game, Langley faced the Surrey Storm 01 squad. The Storm were the top team in the Xtreme’s league during the regular season.
And in the gold medal game — which was a mandatory seven-inning game — the teams were tied at five before Langley scored one run in the bottom of the sixth to pull ahead 6-5. The Xtreme defence then shut the door in the top of the seventh to win the provincial title.
“My goal at the start of the year was to place top three in the province,” French said, adding he and assistant coaches Bill Cox and Dave Wood knew the team had what it would take.
“(We) spent the last two years developing the whole team, so that if there was an injury or fatigue, there would be another player able to step in at any position, without weakening our chances.
“Plus, we have a deep pitching group and I was able to flip them in an out of innings without any worries.”
Much like the rest of the season, the Xtreme were dominant at provincials, going 7-0 and winning all the games except for two — both of which were against the Storm — by more than four runs.
The other game against Surrey required an epic comeback as Langley was down 7-0 going into the fourth inning but rallied to prevail 9-8.
The Xtreme also beat the Langford Lightning 7-3, the Nanaimo Diamondbacks 16-1 and the Surrey Storm 02 team 12-0.
In the quarter-finals, Langley advanced thanks to a 7-0 win over the South Delta Invaders. And they doubled up the North Shore Stars 16-8 in the semifinals.
Langley finished the season with just six losses in 60 regular season games, including victory earlier this month at the Lower Mainland Cup in Vancouver.
The team averaged about 15 runs per game while surrendering just less than four per game.
The team consists of Breanna Connolly, Ashley Preston, Taryn Jenkins, Jordan Quechuk, Kailtlyn Cowie, Kayla Michael, Piper French, Samantha Cox, Sierra Miller, Syndey Wood, Brooklyn Baly, Jayna Hagen and Rebecca Courneyea.
Coaches are Rob French, Bill Cox, Dave Wood and manager Holly French.