© Herald Photo by Perry Bergson
Softball season in full swing
So, what do Prince Albert softball teams do for an encore?
Coming off a season where local squads swept all four minor boy’s provincial championships and collected first and third-place honours on the girl’s side it will be a hard act to follow, but early indications have Prince Albert clubs as the teams to beat this season too.
Last year the Astros (boy’s teams) won the squirt, pee wee, bantam and midget provincial titles with the pee wee club also winning the Western Canadian championship, which was hosted in Prince Albert.
Although the rosters are a little different due to players moving up a division because they are a year older, the pee wee Astros this year have already claimed a pair of tournament titles in Saskatoon after failing to drop a game at both the President’s Cup and the Early Bird event.
The squirt Astros also won the provincial championship a year ago (there are no Western Canadian champions declared at that level) and they too have won both tournaments in Saskatoon this spring - going 9-0.
The bantam Astros were double winners last year as well winning the provincial crown and finishing third at the Western Canada event in Winnipeg and they too will be a threat this year when they go to provincials in Saskatoon on July 4-6. The midget Astros, who were seventh at nationals last year in Gander, NFLD./Labrador, will also try and gain another provincial title at this year’s event in Saskatoon on July 4-6.
On the girl’s side, the local teams also look like they will be serious contenders.
The pee wee and bantam Aces both compete in the Girls Prairie League of Softball with the pee wee Aces going a perfect 6-0 on opening weekend in that loop while outscoring their opponents 58-6. The bantam Aces were 5-1 during the first get-together and they outslugged the opposition 46-19 in those six games.
Both the pee wee and bantam Aces will be back in action this weekend for the Pink Sox Campaign Day in Alberta with the all-star weekend for the GPSL set for June 13-15 and the league championship weekend scheduled for June 27-29.
The pee wee Aces, who won the provincial title last year and were runners-up at Western Canadians in Prince Albert, will look to defend their provincial crown on July 4-6 in Saskatoon. The bantam Aces, bronze-medalists at last year’s provincials, but champions at the Western Canada event in Winnipeg, will head to Regina on June 27-29 to try and capture a provincial crown.
Prince Albert also has Aces teams competing in the Pee Wee “B” and Bantam “B” levels with the Bantam “B” Aces also coming out on top at a Saskatoon tournament this year. Both squads are gearing up for their respective provincials which will be July 4-6 in Unity for the pee wee “B” squad and July 18-20 in Moose Jaw for the bantam “B” club.
Minor fastball isn’t the only level seeing great results as the Prince Albert Sportsman Softball League is also flourishing.
The senior men’s circuit, which is just finishing its second week of the regular schedule, has nine teams entered with four of those clubs already registered to compete in the provincial Senior C championships at Prime Ministers’ Park on July 25-27.
Confirmed to compete in the provincial event are the Liteway Electric Blue Jays, defending league champion R&W Collision Pirates, the Urban Red Sox from James Smith First Nation and Melfort.
Organizers are expecting 16 teams to battle for the provincial Senior C title, which has not been contested in Prince Albert for many years. Volunteers are still needed to help with the event and anyone wanting to lend a hand on that weekend can contact Chris Hudon at 306-764-3937.
Before the provincial championship comes to Prince Albert, however, the Sportsman Softball League will play a full complement of games with each club facing each other twice for a 16-game schedule.
Also competing in the league is another squad from James Smith, the bantam and midget Astros, Westview Steering and Fishing Lake. League president Kim Dryka says fans will witness some pretty good ball with games being played Monday to Thursday at 7 and 9 p.m. at PMP.
“It’s nice to see the bantam (Astros) team come in,” says Dryka. “Overall it is going to be pretty competitive. It’s a pretty decent league.”
The Senior C championship isn’t the only provincial event coming to Prince Albert this summer as both the squirt and pee wee boy’s titles will be decided at PMP as well. Both will take to the diamonds on July 11-13 with Derek Smith facilitating both events.
Shellbrook will also be hosting a pair of provincial championships this summer with the pee wee “B” and bantam “B” boy’s titles to be determined there on July 11-13.
Here is a quick summary of the local minor ball teams. Listed is the team, coach and when and where they go to provincials.
Squirt Aces – Charles Mullner – Saskatoon, July 4-6
Pee Wee “A” Aces – Dwayne Stonechild – Saskatoon, July 4-6
Pee Wee “B” Aces – Brent Kennedy – Unity, July 4-6
Bantam “A” Aces – Jennifer Ferguson – Regina, June 27-29
Bantam “B” Aces – Robert Paul – Moose Jaw, July 18-20
Midget Aces – Bryan Rindal – Saskatoon, July 4-6
Squirt Astros – Terry Epp and Mike Foldell – Prince Albert, July 11-13
Pee Wee Astros – Derek Smith – Prince Albert, July 11-13
Bantam Astros – Andrew Kutnikoff – Saskatoon, July 4-6
Midget Astros – Robyn Gibb – Saskatoon, July 4-6
Winners of the pee wee, bantam and midget divisions in the “A” level, for both boys and girls, will advance to Western Canadian championships with the pee wee event slated for Lloydminster on Aug. 1-4, bantams are in Duncan, B.C., on Aug. 7-10 and the midgets head to the Battlefords on Aug. 1-4.
There are no local teams entered in national events this year, but there was some good news from Softball Saskatchewan earlier this week when it was announced that Prince Albert’s Josh Elliot along with Justin Boyer from St. Louis and Matthew Pilon from Duck Lake all earned spots on Team Canada for the world junior softball championship to be held in Whitehorse, Yukon, on July 11-20.
Prince Albert has returned to its former glory of being a hotbed at the provincial softball level and it looks like this year could be another great chapter to add to the already rich history in the sport.