Sports Baseball

White Rock-South Surrey Little Leaguers romping over competition at nationals

Patrick Johnston, Vancouver Sun

(Jim Wells/Postmedia Network File Photo)

(Jim Wells/Postmedia Network File Photo)

Five games up, five games won.

Things are rolling for White Rock-South Surrey’s Little Leaguers at the national championship in Medicine Hat. Not one game has been close, either: They’ve won 12-2 (Tuesday), 27-4 (Monday), 23-4 (Sunday), 15-6 (Saturday) and 13-2 (last Thursday) since the tournament started on Aug. 3.

Tuesday’s romp was over the Alberta champions from Lethbridge.

“As a coaching staff we’re very fortunate that they’re very focused,” coach Ryan Hefflick said Tuesday morning. His son Reid plays on the team; he’s been coaching many of the boys since they were seven years old.

The boys show a maturity beyond their years and that’s been a key to their success.

Now 12 and 13 years old, “they know what’s at stake, they take every game seriously and really focus,” he said.

Many of the boys having hit puberty has helped, too; that’s always a key for success at this age.

“There’s no doubt our team has good size.”

“We’ve got 13 strong players,” he said. “We’re well-rounded, very deep in pitching, very deep in hitting.”

Good character has played a role as well.

“That’s part of the selection of the team. In White Rock-South Surrey we do have a lot of good baseball players,” he said.

He said it’s about finding the right attitudes.

“You’re picking chemistry and skills,” said Hefflick. "Like any general manager for a major league team, or a hockey team, you’ve got to pick the right balance.”

To get to Medicine Hat, White Rock had to win their regional tournament and then the provincial tournament. It’s been a big commitment but no one has struggled with the schedule.

While being away from home for this length of time is new for the boys, “his is a very unique kind of situation,” he said. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

“We’ve done weekend tournaments for preparation. And a lot of our boys play hockey and so they’re used to four-day events.”

The kids have great family backing too, the coach noted.

“Having the families here is important,” he added. The stands are filled each game by parents from across the country. Also competing are teams from Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The summer hasn’t been cheap. If White Rock-South Surrey wins the Canadian title on Saturday, they’ll be off to Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series. The first game there is Aug. 17 against a team from Italy.

At the end of the summer, each family will have spent between $15,000 and $20,000, Hefflick estimated.

“It is a large investment. It was a conversation we had with all the parents and kids to make clear the more we played, the more expensive it would get,” he said.

“The parents understood what the range of costs could be. White Rock was fortunate to go to the Little League World Series two years ago, so we have some budgets to follow.”

And no one was turned away for financial considerations, he noted.

The team’s last round robin game is Wednesday afternoon against Quebec’s Mirabel Baseball Academy. The semis go Friday; there are no second chances.

All games are being streamed online on cbcsports.ca.