The Rankin Inlet Stealers beat out Baker Lake at the second annual U-16 softball tournament, which took place in the regional capital over the August long weekend.
The tournament featured teams from Whale Cove, Arviat, Baker Lake and Coral Harbour, with two teams from Rankin Inlet.
Each team had to field seven boys and three girls at a time.
“That’s how it’s always been. It makes the game a little bit more of a community thing,” said David Clark, the recreation co-ordinator for the community and one of the organizers of the tournament.
Every team played each other in the round robin before advancing to a standard playoff format with two semi-final games. Clark told Kivalliq News the weekend featured some exciting games.
“The two semi finals games were excellent,” he said.
In one semi, Baker Lake beat the Rankin Dodgers in extra innings. Clark said there was lots of back and forth scoring between the two teams before it went to overtime.
“It came down to the wire and Baker Lake came through with some big plays in the extra innings.”
In the other semi-final, Coral Harbour lost a tough battle against the Rankin Inlet Stealers. Coral was leading for most of the game, but Rankin made a late comeback.
“Coral had a really talented team,” said Clark. “It was a close game throughout, but Rankin ended up pulling out the win.”
The semis set up an intense final between Baker Lake and the Stealers.
The Stealers came out to a hot start and took an early lead. Midway through the game, Baker Lake came on strong and attempted to make a comeback. But the Stealers ended up pulling away at the end to win the tournament.
“They won the final with a pretty big score differential,” Clark said of the Stealers, who finished fourth at the end of round robin play.
“As the weekend went on they got stronger and stronger and they showed their potential in the final.”
The tournament was the first inter-regional sports event to take place ever since the Arctic Winter Games were cancelled in February due to COVID-19.
Clark said the tournament organizers took strict precautions to make sure they adhered to the chief medical health officer’s standards.
Each player had to fill a waiver to say they weren’t having any symptoms as well as contact information including where they were staying while in Rankin.
“If anything did happen we would have that for contact tracing,” said Clark.
Clark said it was a relief to finally see youth from around the Kivalliq being able to see each other again in a competitive setting.
“It was definitely nice to see that positive vibe going around – to see some smiles and some happy kids.”