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Winnipeg all-girls baseball team makes its mark in a boys’ league

Baseball players on the St James A’s arrive at the field well before their competition. The girls start warming up, getting ready for a Monday night game.

The A’s are a bit different than the other teams who play in the U15 AA baseball league in Winnipeg.

“We are the only all-girls team to play in an all-boys league in Manitoba,” coach Jamie Bettens said, whose daughter Dayle plays on the team.

This group of girls only started playing together about a month ago but they are already making their mark with a couple of early-season wins.

“It challenges us even more because they really want to win. We get their best pitchers and stuff. It’s pretty cool; they’re a bunch of guys scared of a girls’ team,” player Dayle Bettens said.

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The A’s came to be based on a need to give promising young female baseball players more opportunities.

“After some of our results at the last few tournaments, at the national and western Canadian level, we realized there was something extra we needed to give these girls to really compete on that stage and we thought 20-25 games of experience would do it,” Jamie said.

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The St James Minor Baseball Association welcomed the idea and teenage girls from across Winnipeg and Manitoba came together, forming the A’s yellow team.

Most of the girls are multi-sport athletes, simultaneously playing softball or competing in other sports like hockey in the winter.

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“We want best athletes possible,” Jamie said.

He calls this group of athletes special and raves about how dedicated and cohesive they are. It’s evident in his coaching style, always encouraging the girls when they’re up to bat or on base.

“They have fun but they’re also here to win,” Jamie said.

Being a part of this special group of athletes is an experience fellow coach Jamie Johnson is proud to be a part of.

“I went through my whole baseball experience playing on all-boys teams, being the only girl or one of the only girls so it’s super cool to see enough girls to field a whole baseball team,” Johnson said.

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And the players themselves are loving it.

“The boys are kind of scared,” Kennedy Morrissette said. “They don’t like losing against us.”

Piper Hollywood adds, “I’m a girl and can play just as good as you.”

Many of the athletes have long term goals, looking to earn a scholarship and play on provincial and national baseball teams.

They also hope to inspire more girls to join baseball.

“I would love to see some girls come play the path I did and play for Team Manitoba and hopefully they can go even further and maybe I’ll even get to coach them,” Dayle said.

The A’s have some short-term goals, too.

“We have a bit of a goal to peak at the right time going into playoffs and I think we are well on our way to accomplishing that goal,” Jamie said.

The A’s coaching staff say they frequently hear from new families showing interest in their girls’ baseball team.

“If any young ladies out there are interested, we are very easy to find,” Jamie said. “Come on down and you can try it.”

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