Viper boys dominate fastpitch squad

When Team BC's bantam boys hit the fastpitch diamond at the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops next month, Chilliwack will be well represented.

Four players from the Chilliwack Vipers Bantam A fastpitch squad cracked the 14-man roster at Softball BC selection camps in September and March, and two more were named alternates.

Catcher Parker Hendsbee, infielder Ryan Kaplanis, outfielder Filip Horak and pitcher Brendon Donegan will travel to Kamloops for the tournament Aug. 5 to 15, while Thomas Bunn and Santana McKay will hold down alternate positions.

What makes the selection of so many Chilliwack players especially impressive, according to Vipers coach Jeff Donegan, is the size of the local program compared to other programs in the Lower Mainland.

The Chilliwack association runs a total of four boys' team and fields barely 40 players while teams like Langford, Richmond and Fleetwood field triple that number but only contributed two players each to the B.C.'s Western Canada Summer Games squad.

The local pool of boys fastpitch players may be small, but Hendsbee said the tight-knit program has fostered players' individual and team success.

"We've been together for a really long time, and we haven't really lost players," he said. "We've always been building up as a team, so we know how to work together, and that's why we all made it."

Besides sending the biggest contingent to the provincial squad, the Vipers will also contribute Team BC's youngest player, pitcher Brendon Donegan.

At age 14, the local pitcher is two years younger than players at the top end of the bantam 15-to-16-year age range.

But that doesn't mean he'll be sitting on the bench.

With a 65-mph fastball, he is slated to start, and despite his tender age, he doesn't find the prospect intimidating in the least.

"I've always played with older people," he said.

All four players said they are looking forward to the camaraderie that will be part of their trip to Kamloops, but coach Donegan said the tournament is also an important link to their future in the sport.

"The Western Canada Games is a stepping stone for athletes and can lead directly to junior national, senior national and other amazing teams," he said.

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