Saskatoon - Three titles for local softball teams

August 10, 2009

Saskatoon, SK

The old softball adage that good pitching will always beat good hitting, was proven again on the weekend as local teams won a National and two Western Canadian titles. Mike Oakes Selects rode the arms of Devon McCullough and Patrick Burns through their 3 playoff wins, giving up only 2 runs on eight hits against the best in Canada to claimed the Midget Boy’s Canadian Championship in Prince Albert on Sunday.

The Bruno Merchants featuring a deep pitching staff led by the trio of Jeff Farion, Rob Scheller and Justin Dauvin had a tournament ERA of 2.15  - almost half a run per game better than their nearest rival, as they claimed the Western Canadian Sr. B Men’s Championship in Regina on Sunday. Both pitching staffs certainly had some help at the plate as McCullough was named top hitter and MVP, hitting .401 for the tournament. Bruno’s Cory Krahenbil hit an amazing .533 to claim the top hitter’s award to go along with Farion’s Top Pitcher prize.  The success of the Merchants and Mike Oakes overshadowed good tournaments by the other local teams entered. Brad Lefebvre’s young Midget Selects, finished the preliminary round with 4 wins and narrowly missed the last playoff spot, losing a tiebreaker to Quebec. The Travelodge Padres surprised many with a fourth place finish after moving up from the Intermediate ranks last year. On the women’s side, Trams Sales Trojans were also in Regina where they won three games but lost in the tiebreaker to get into the playoffs.  

The third title won by a local team came from the Cave Jr. Lady Diamondbacks, who won nine straight games to claim the Women’s Junior B Westerns in Strathmore. After losing to their local rival Sports on Tap Riot in the provincial final, Gary MacDonald’s squad got revenge in the A final of the Western’s with a 5-2 victory. After the loss the Riot did not have enough power left in their bats, as they lost to Strathmore 3-1 to settle for the bronze. In the final, the Diamondbacks’ bats came out hot, led by Brie Vany they outslugged Strathmore 8-6 to earn the Western Canadian Junior B Women’s Championship. Vany hit an outstanding .579 and was named tournament MVP, while Riot hurler Bobbi Ryan was named the Top Pitcher of the preliminary round. In a very busy Western’s weekend another local team took home a medal in Kamloops. The Saskatoon Connextion earned a bronze in the Women’s side of the Western Canadian Masters Fastball Championships.
Ontario was a busy place for national championships last weekend as three SASA teams competed in different locations. The Quill Plains Blazers had a solid effort finishing with four wins but losing in the first round of the playoffs in Midget A Girl’s Canadian Championship in Brampton

In Owen Sound the Junior Diamondbacks advanced to the playoffs with a 4 and 4 record before losing a heart breaking 9 inning playoff game to the eventual bronze medal winning Napanee Express. The other Saskatchewan team, FSIN Chiefs with four players from the Bridge City, finished second in the preliminary round but lost two straight in the playoffs. There will be a little less pressure on the Saskatoon Outlaws at next year’s Canadian Junior Women’s Championship in Saskatoon, as they failed to follow up their 2008 National title as a result of a second round playoff loss on Saturday. The disappointing 7th place finish in the preliminary round hid some great performances by players such as: Lindsay Koscielski who hit .401, Katherine Guenther who was the workhorse in the circle and allstar outfielder Morgan Garman. Garman  was a young pickup from Midget Selects program who would be eligible for the 2015 Junior Ladies nationals. With SASA teams’ fighting for Championships in four different provinces last weekend, many local teams will settle in at home and wrap up their season with the league playoffs which will move into full swing this week.

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