Bantam Astros take provincial crown in Saskatoon

Andrew
Andrew Schopp
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Although down 2-1 in their best-of-five series with the Saskatoon Selects heading into Sunday's action, the Bantam 'A' Prince Albert Astros rallied back to take the provincial title with a 3-2 series victory. After losing games two and three, the Astros bounced back, winning game four 4-3 and game five 8-7 to clinch the series. Submitted photo 

It was a busy weekend for Prince Albert softball squads as several provincial championships wrapped up in Saskatoon, Unity and Regina.

A total of seven Prince Albert softball teams competed for provincial championships over the weekend including the Bantam 'A' Astros, who were victorious in a best-of-five series over the Saskatoon Selects.

On Friday, both the Bantam and Midget Astros squads opened up a best-of-five series against the Selects for the provincial crown at Gordie Howe Park in the Bridge City.  

On the Bantam side, the Astros triumphed over the Selects with a 3-2 series victory, despite dropping a pair of games on Saturday.

"We hit the ball hard," said Bantam Astros coach Andrew Kutnikoff. "We had multiple games with over 10 hits so our batting is right where it needs to be. Our pitcher, we rode him for 28 innings, so it was good."

After taking game one on Friday 12-2, the Astros lost game two 7-6 in extra innings. The Astros continued to struggle, losing 9-7 in game three before bouncing back to win the next two games and clinch the series.  

Although both the Astros and Selects were destined to head to the U16 Canadian Championships in Fredericton, N.B. on Aug. 4-11 regardless of the series' outcome, Kutnikoff said his team's victory puts momentum on their side.

"With this win (in Saskatoon) I think we have a great chance of winning over there too," Kutnikoff said as his team heads east to compete at the national level.

While the Bantam Astros triumphed in their weekend of softball action, things didn't go as smoothly for the Midget squad.

Taking on the Midget Selects, the Midget Astros were swept 3-0 in their best-of-five series.

After dropping game one 10-9 on Friday, the Astros fell 3-1 and 14-5 in games two and three to close out the series on Saturday.

Midget Astros coach Robyn Nagy said she thought the Astros were the better squad heading into the series in Saskatoon, however, her team failed to hit their stride. 

"I don't think Saskatoon was that much greater of a team," Nagy said. "We just couldn't get anything together."

As was the case with the Bantam series, the tilt between the Midget Astros and Selects was strictly for bragging rights as both teams will head to the U18 Canadian Championships in Gander, N.L. on Aug. 5-10. 

Nagy said her team has a lot of work to do before they to head to the east coast to compete for a national championship.

"I think we really need to work on our mental game," Nagy said. "It's a mental game, If you go up there believing you can do it, you are going to make contact. We really need to bring up our mental game, erase the errors and get our sticks back."

The Bantam and Midget Astros were just two of seven Prince Albert softball teams fighting for a provincial title over the weekend.

In Saskatoon, the girl's peewee  and midget Prince Albert 'A' Aces were all competing at the provincial level, while the 'B' bantam squad took to Unity. 

The Midget Aces finished the round-robin portion of provincials with a 2-2 record, however, fell in the first round of championship play on Sunday. Despite the loss, the team still advances to Nationals in Saskatoon on Aug. 4.

Meanwhile in Regina, the girl's Bantam 'A' Aces were playing catch-up.

After getting rained out last weekend, the Bantam ‘A’ Aces were in the provincial capital on Sunday to finish their championship tournament. 

Last Friday, the Aces beat the Saskatoon Hustlers 16-1 and the Regina Royals 12-4. Last Saturday, they beat the Saskatoon Lasers 13-2 and the Lumsden Cubs 9-2 to finish first in their pool.

With the top finish in their pool, the Bantam 'A' Aces have already punched their ticket to Westerns in Duncan, B.C.

On Sunday, they headed back to Regina to fight for the provincial title and a spot in Nationals in Brampton, Ont.

After getting past the Conquest Coyotes in Sunday's semi-final, the Bantam 'A' Aces went on to squeeze out a narrow 1-0 triumph over the Regina Lazers to win the tournament and clinch a spot in Brampton.  

Results from other Aces action in Saskatoon and Unity was not available on Sunday at press time, however, all scores can be found in Tuesday's edition of The Herald and online at paherald.sk.ca.

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