Things are looking up for girls' baseball in the Conception Bay North region.
With dozens of young female athletes picking up the game at a young level with the CBN Bulldogs, the crop of ballplayers is getting stronger by the year.
Helping grow the game are five athletes who will be representing Newfoundland and Labrador on the mainland later this month.
Holly Crane, Megan Adams, Cailey Drover, April Squires and Vanessa Jones will be donning the black and red jerseys of Team NL for 2012 Bantam Girls Invitational Championships being held in Bedford, Nova Scotia, Aug. 23-27.
All hail from Upper Island Cove, save for Squires, who is from the nearby community of Tilton.
It will be an international experience for the five Conception Bay North ballplayers as the tournament will not only feature games teams from Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, but also a team from Chicago, Illinois.
For the five athletes, it is going to be an exciting time.
"It's going to be pretty crazy," said pitcher and left-fielder Holly Crane.
Each player is excited for the chance to showcase everything they've learned on the sandlots and ball fields of this province on the national stage, as well as a host of other elements.
"It's the whole experience," said infielder Megan Adams. "Going up there and getting to play against other teams. Down here, you're playing against the same teams over and over.
"We're playing against strong teams and other girls teams. We've never really played against other girls teams other than our tournament last year."
Each athlete participated in an invitational tournament last year in Halifax.
Catcher/shortstop Cailey Drover sees the tournament experience as a way to pick up tips that can help improve all aspects of her game.
"Playing against different people, we're going to learn new techniques and what to do in certain situations," she said. "They're representing their province, so their going to be good players."
When they take to the field in Bedford for the first time, a pair of familiar faces will greet Squires, Adams, Crane, Drover and Jones.
Adams' father Scott is one of the assistant coaches on the squad, while her mother, Heather, is the team's manager.
Both of these people being a part of the experience is sure to have a calming effect on the girls.
Each admitted that the moments prior to the start of the first game nerves will be a bit of a factor.
"You could be afraid to say something," said infielder/outfielder April Squires. "You can tell Scott and he'll help you out."
Scott said having five players from the CBN baseball program is a "little overwhelming."
"No other association in the province has more players on the girls team than us," he said. "It's a major accomplishment for the five players and the association."
Growing the women's game
Having five players on the provincial team is sure to pay dividends for the current and next generation of female athletes in the baseball program.
When they return from the tournament, they'll have stories about interacting with their peers from other provinces and countries, as well as the skills to impart on younger ballplayers.
It is sure to help grow a program that is on the cusp of becoming a major hub for baseball in the province.
"Our girls' program fed off the momentum from the nationals appearance in 2007, so I'm hoping the 2012 appearance has a positive impact on the program in 2013 and beyond," said Scott Adams.