he Lloydminster U18 Liners will be counting on strong performances from batterymates, from left, Kat Bain, Mykaela Martin, Lauren Pollard and Grace Maxwell, when they host the Canadian Fast Pitch Championships at Legion Ball Park from July 31 to Aug. 6. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
Strong hitting throughout the lineup and speed on the basepaths has helped the Lloydminster under-18 Liners to a successful run through the season, but it may come down to the work of their battery that determines how far the team advances at nationals.
Kat Bain, a 15-year-old catcher from Androssan, Alta., regularly sees time behind the plate when Liners starting pitcher Lauren Pollard works off the mound.
Bain noted this is their first time playing together apart from a short stint at the U16 Canadian Fast Pitch Championships in Delta, B.C., last summer, but that hasn’t affected their ability to connect.
“I’ve never really had an issue with Lauren waving off my calls,” said Bain, who started catching about nine years ago.
“I know what she likes and stuff, so it works out pretty well.”
Pollard, 17, regularly throws a rise ball or change up in Bain’s direction.
She noted working around the plate and good communication between the battery mates are what has helped them succeed during their time on the field together.
Bain’s longtime teammate, Mykaela Martin, also joined the Liners full time this season.
Martin, a 16-year-old left-hander from Edmonton, uses pinpoint accuracy with her curve and screwball to get batters out.
Martin said Bain has caught her for about five years, but a move to the Liners has also given her a chance to work with catcher Grace Maxwell.
She said throwing to someone else has proven a bit of an adjustment in terms of figuring out how Maxwell moves behind the plate, as well as her new catcher learning how she delivers pitches, but they do seem to be coming along well.
“I like working with the ump and getting the calls to see how much room we have,” said Maxwell, 17. “You can always kind of see where they’re most likely to call strikes and balls.”
Maxwell played against the Liners at the U16 national championships last year as a member of the Calgary Adrenaline, but decided to try out for Lloydminster’s U18 club after enjoying time working with Liners head coach Brett Harvie, when she played for her hometown St. Albert, Alta., team.
Bain said the two catchers regularly split time behind the plate during games, with the starting spot dependent on who first takes the mound. She noted they don’t really have different styles of play, but they both do enjoy getting the job done.
“I love being a catcher because I feel like I’m in control,” said Bain. “I know what’s going on and I’m the leader on the field and the eyes of the field.”
The Lloydminster U18 Liners are hosting the Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships at the Legion Ball Park from July 31 to Aug. 6. Twenty teams from Quebec to British Columbia are expected to take part, and upwards of 60 games will be played over the course of the seven-day tournament.