Provincial minor baseball championships wrapped up this past weekend around the province, with a couple of west central towns in Kindersley and Unity being in the mix and stepping up to play host.
Berard Field and Flanagan Field in Kindersley hosted two different 18U tournaments over the weekend, and Unity’s diamonds played host to the 11U AA Tier 3 tournament featuring west central teams in the Kindersley Royals, Biggar Nationals, and of course Unity. Delisle hosted a U12 boys softball tournament as well.
Kindersley Minor Ball teams had a great showing, especially at home, with Royals 1 and 2 taking home the 18U Tier 3 and Tier 5 Championships respectively after playing host. Over in Unity the host Cardinals put up the best showing of west central teams finishing at 2-1, good enough for third place on the weekend. Kindersley’s U12 Royals softball team also won their provincials up in Prince Albert, while the Rosetown U14 Angels team won their bracket in Saskatoon.
Follow the link for complete west central results from this past weekend.
No 15U team entered into play from Kindersley this year, making the last team from the community at provincials the Kindersley 13U Royals as they traveled to Estevan to compete in an 8 team championship.
The teams coaching staff and players were equally excited for provincials; well, maybe not quite totally considering the circumstances.
“I know for my kid, he was itching to go,” described one of the Royals coaches in Dean Gutenberg, “He was willing to practice all spring and all summer if that's what it took, but as soon as games happened there was a bit of a switch that went off.”
Gutenberg is one of the Royals four coaches who was very busy preparing his team for provincials. They were unfortunately not able to capture a similar fate as the other Kindersley champions, but he still cherished each of the 18 games his team was able to get in this season.
(via Dean Gutenberg)
Hosting provincials is usually a tall task. Thankfully in Kindersley, strong work from tournament organizers kept the tournament from ever falling off the rails.
“I think the shout-out goes to all the parent volunteers,” said Royals 18U coach Blain Hilbig.
From the weekends volunteers, to Wayne “Sambo” Samson keeping everybody at the ballpark fed and hydrated, Kindersley Minor Ball has to be thrilled about the weekend’s tremendous success.
This wasn’t the case a few years back when Kindersley hosted provincials. A massive rain storm forced the baseball umbrella to practically buy the town out of diamond dry to salvage the field enough to play, something the Town of Unity fortunately didn’t have to deal with when they hosted this year after a storm rolled over their diamonds on the night before provincials.
Graeme Gieni was the host site contact in Unity as well as the 11U Cardinals coach, and he described the small amount of cleanup needed at the diamonds before Friday’s first pitch.
“We had a bunch of trees and branches and debris that scattered the field Thursday night. We were lucky enough to have a couple of the other teams that were practicing come help, and then we had a bunch of parents show up to help clean the diamonds,” said Gieni explaining the effort, “The town really helped the next morning. They were down picking up all the branches and stuff before the games started on Friday.”
According to Gieni that was the only real hiccup of the weekend, unless you include the tough showings from west central teams in Kindersley and Biggar not making it to championship Sunday. Despite the results those teams were likely thrilled to be included in a draw so close to home, but at the same time, play against teams from all over the province once again.
Community spirit was on full display as the tournament had no troubles finding volunteers despite a shortage.
“We were lucky enough to find some community volunteers to help with score-keeping and pitch-count and stuff,” said Gieni, “It was a little harder with everyone gone for provincials this weekend to find volunteers, but we had decent crowds and I didn’t hear any complaints from other teams.”
A majority of Baseball Saskatchewan’s provincial tournaments went July 23-25, and a few more weekends in August will help close down the 2021 season. Rosetown’s only provincial baseball entrant this year will be the 11U team heading down to Estevan on August 13-15, and the only west central team left on the list for minor provincials is the 18U Unity Cardinals, as they will host 7 teams as part of the Tier 1 draw.
Over in the senior bracket, competing local teams will be headed into their provincials in different scenarios, as well as different tiers. It will be an NSRBL playoff rematch as the Kindersley Stallions and Wilkie Brewers are pooled up and set to meet on the first day of Tier 2 provincials, after the Stallions renew their rivalry with the Cabri River Rats to the start the schedule at 11:00 am.
The Rosetown Angels, Unity Junior Cardinals, and Macklin Lakers are all set to compete together in Davidson for Tier 3 provincials. Unity and Macklin both saw their playoff runs end early, while Rosetown missed playoffs thanks to a tiebreaker in the resurrected Coteau Hills Baseball League.