Express headed to provincial softball championship

Skyla Minaker, left, and Julia Pearson, both 15, are headed to the Ontario softball championships this weekend. Barry Wright

Sarnia will be represented when the Enniskillen Express compete at the Provincial Women’s Softball Association Tier Two Championships in St. Catharines on Saturday.

Northern Collegiate students Julia Pearson and Skyla Minaker, both 15, have been part of the Express organization for three and four years respectively.

“I was playing (SMAA) house league and wanted to play a higher level of ball. But Sarnia didn’t have a travel team so my dad found Enniskillen,” said Pearson, when asked how she joined an organization 30 kilometres from home.

Her grandfather Bob Pearson and dad Dean Pearson both played in the former Town and Country League in Sarnia, so seems only natural she excels at the sport.

Minaker was introduced to the Express by a basketball coach whose daughter played in Enniskillen.

The Express went 7-1 last weekend to win a double-knockout provincial qualifying tournament in Barrie, and are ranked the top seed at the provincials.

Enniskillen lost its second game in extra innings to London and had to rebound with six consecutive victories, including back-to-back wins over previously unbeaten London to earn the right to advance.

The teammates feel the Express have a good chance of finishing in the top two this weekend and qualifying for the national tournament in New Brunswick later this month.

“If we play like we did (at the qualifier) I think we can go far,” said Pearson.

“If we work together and shake off mistakes, I’m sure we’ll do pretty well,” added Minaker.

Express coach Dean Pearson hopes the girls can channel the energy and momentum of winning and bring it to the next level.

“When you get to the provincials, anybody can beat anybody, so we have it to take it one game at a time,” he said.

“But the girls have been playing well for the last month, so I think we’ll do just fine.”

 – Barry Wright