Commissioner Riopel presenting Nathan Swap with the engraved bat he took home for being chosen as the game’s MVP.

The Manager of Leon’s Paint & Carpet All-Stars, Brett McElroy, poses with six members of his regular squad who dressed for the 2017 All-Star Game.

Lia Cole, winner of the City of St. Albert Canada 150 singer-songwriter competition belts out her winning entry during the pre-game show

Rhonda Egar-Lee leads the dignitaries off field following the pre-game show.

Click on picture for larger print

Sherwood Park Athletics Host A Special Fan Appreciation Night on Friday

A family friendly event is being planned by the Athletics in Sherwood Park when the club hosts the Westlock Red Lions in a 7:15 pm regular season home game. Great food provided by a local food truck will go hand in hand with beer sales in the grandstand during this second annual event. Fans will also be rewarded with special draws for some great prizes throughout the game. The Sherwood Park Athletics are currently enjoying their best regular season start ever and currently lead in the League standings. The Athletics want their fans to join them on Friday evening for what promises to be an entertaining NCABL regular season game and a lot of fun for everyone in attendance. The game will be played at Centennial Park this Friday, June 15th. Admission is free.

The NCABL and Umpire Community Mourns the Loss of a Core Umpire/Alumni, Colleague and Friend who Succumbs to his Battle with Cancer

Steve Bluett's courageous battle with cancer came to an end at 6:30 am on Saturday morning in Edmonton, Alberta. Steve first met Commissioner Riopel in the 80's and the two of them worked many games together throughout the 1980's and 1990's. Steve served the NCABL as a core and casual umpire over the course of several decades, bringing his flamboyant style to a League he truly enjoyed working in. A consummate optimist, Steve loved the game of baseball and all of the people who were exposed to his contagious love of sports in general could not help but feel uplifted by his joy and enthusiasm for life. His appreciation and respect for everyone he met served to build bridges wherever he went.

His passing cannot, therefore, be seen as anything but an opportunity for us all to rejoice in what we have been given to enjoy. Our greatest tribute to the man must reflect his love and respect for his fellow man and his deep appreciation for his God given gifts. The NCABL family wishes to extend condolences to Steve's wife, Audrey, and to all of Steve's family.

The service for Steve has been announced, it will take place on Monday June 4th, 11:00 am @ Park Memorial Chapel 9709-111 Ave, Edmonton T5G 0B2. See the link below for more information.

Service details

League Seeks Director of Social Media

Following a report filed by Peter Shepert and presented to the Board of Governors at its Spring Bi-Annual Meeting, the NCABL is actively seeking to replace its former director of audio-visual programming, Mr. Earl Thompson, with a new head of social media. Earl served the NCABL well during his tenure with the League by introducing new and innovative programming such as his popular podcast “Circling the Bases” which will be sorely missed. Thompson also began active coverage of the NCABL through twitter while providing coverage on Facebook as well. With his departure following the 2017 50th anniversary season, that volunteer staff position has been noticeably vacant. The League appreciates the exposure it receives through social media options and desires to re-establish a presence there. According to Commissioner Riopel, the League is open to entertaining proposals from individuals interested in undertaking very specific projects in the social media world. “We would be ready to approve undertakings of a more limited scope and partition them out to several individuals who are comfortable working within this platform”, commented Riopel. Mr. Shepert’s report highlighted many areas which might be of interest to persons wanting to be engaged in the media world. These ideas ranged from responsibility over an NCABL twitter account, to writing a weekly performance of the week feature for the website’s main page, to roaming NCABL territory with a camera in hand to capture sport highlights from League play, to reviving the weekly podcast “Circling the Bases” with a new host. “The League ’s social media director would be in a perfect position to work cooperatively with the media managers from every club in the League (currently referred to as public relations reps) in order to focus on inside stories and interviews from every corner of the League”, concluded the Commissioner.

Official Scoring Clinic Offers Live Game Component

All official scorers with previous NCABL experience will be offered an exciting new twist at this year’s Official Scoring Clinic. A full day of classroom presentations will be replaced with a half day program followed by another half day of on-field practice and evaluation scheduled on another date. During a regularly scheduled pre-season game, returning scorers will be asked to score a live game and to produce a game summary thereafter. A complete dissection of that game will follow led by the League’s Official Statistician, Ryan Petryshyn. With the official scoresheets and summaries submitted for appraisal, candidates will be provided with a raw score for that game reflecting their accuracy in reporting the game’s statistical content. So as to remain sharply focused on the art of scoring, the League will be encouraging official scorers to annually attend a scoring clinic. For doing so and for achieving an honours standing in the live component of the game being scored, candidates will earn for themselves a voucher from the League worth $10 per game for every game scored during the regular NCABL season and post-season. “By constantly seeking to improve the quality of our products at every level using positive reinforcements, we will come ever closer to proving that we are the most progressive baseball league in Alberta”, offered Commissioner Riopel.

Axemen Exit the NCABL After Leaving Their Mark

The 2018 season will begin in the NCABL without the presence of the Camrose Axemen whose ten year run was highlighted with both highs and lows. The club entered the League in 2008 and posted a respectable 9W and 9L record in their inaugural season. After slipping into 9th place in the 2009 campaign, the Axemen would recover by ranking 6th and 5th in each of the next two seasons. The Axemen came into their own in a highly competitive NCABL in 2012 by posting a 14 W 4L record to capture their first of two back to back pennants. Although the League Championship eluded them throughout the decade, their four post season appearances from 2012 -15 established their reputation as a solid club with talented and experienced players combined with an up and coming crop of young prospects that augured well for the future of the club. Unfortunately, the future of AA baseball in the City of Camrose was dealt a severe blow with the departure of key veterans through retirement and the loss of several young and talented prospects who chose to play in collegiate leagues outside of Alberta. The Axemen were suddenly faced with a rapidly depleting roster and despite a valiant effort at sustaining some credibility in 2016 by playing .500 baseball, last season proved to be disastrous as the club dropped to 7th place in the NCABL after recording only 4 wins on the season. Although the minor baseball system in Camrose has experienced some new life, too few graduating midget players were ready to commit to playing at a AA senior level. The city of Camrose certainly has the fan base to support a club in the NCABL. All that is needed is a city council that is prepared to invest in facilities capable of attracting higher calibre baseball to town. Once achieved, it is our belief that Camrose will once again demonstrate that it is a “quality baseball town”. With a strong supporting cast of rural baseball players, Camrose can return to power in the NCABL.

Board of Governors Releases 2018 Schedule

The NCABL officially approved an 84 game regular season for 2018. Opening day in the NCABL will be on May 9th when the Mets will play host to the Edmonton Blackhawks. Last season’s rivalry will be ignited early as the pennant winning Mets meet the second place Blackhawks in the lone contest. The All-Star Game has been scheduled for July 25th at Remax Field in Edmonton while the semi-final series’ will be played at Keller Field on August 18th and 19th during the Westlock & District Agricultural Fair. The final week-end of play will be hosted by the highest ranking club to emerge from the semi-final series. Regular items of business included the approval of the core of umpires to work the League, the incorporation of the code of conduct within the Spring Training sessions along with a review of new policy directives approved at last fall’s board of governors meeting.

Official Scoring Clinic Open to Minor Baseball Associations

The North Central Alberta Baseball League will once again be hosting its annual scoring clinic at Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton on Saturday, April 28. Interested persons must pre-register by E-mailing League Office by April 26th leaving a name,a sponsoring baseball organization, telephone number, E-mail address, and whether they are attending for the first time or are a repeat attendee. There is no cost for scorers who will be working in the NCABL this season, while a $35 cost will apply to everyone else. Please inquire as to whether or not you qualify for a discounted price. Lunch and all necessary materials will be provided at no additional cost. The clinic lead will be in the capable hands of Official Statistician Ryan Petryshyn. Actual registrations will be taking place on site at 9:00 am. Everyone is welcome.

The 2017 Championship Series in Review

League Championship Semi-Final Series A: Mets vs. Red Lions

Larger than average crowds gathered at Keller Field to witness some undeniably stunning results as the Red Lions (8 - 8) faced off against the pennant champion Stony Plain Mets (14 - 2) Game 1 of this series was an absolute blow-out as the Mets were unrelentless in their assault on the Red Lions pitching staff, pounding out 18 hits including two home runs from Kyle Radke and Lee Worobec. A barage of 8 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning put the game away as the Mets cruised to an 18 - 0 victory.

The Red Lions regrouped in game 2 behind the effective pitching of Adam Sawatzky who allowed only 3 hits while the reliable bats of a number of Red Lions including Chris Brand and Nathan Brown provided the necessary offence to eek out a 3 - 0 victory to tie the series and send it into a third and deciding game. The game was not without its heated moment when Mets runner Kyle Radke slid hard into second base to the objection of Red Lion shortstop Jordan Brand whose retaliatory knee created a tense moment causing both benches to clear. Although some chirping from both dugouts persisted after that incident, the umpiring crew did a credible job of keeping both clubs under control

The Red Lions came right back with Sawatzky the next day. After having thrown a full seven innings in game 1, Sawatzky worked his way through 51/3 more innings. Although he allowed 11 hits, the Mets could only muster 3 runs for their effort despite the hot bats of Jamie Cameron, Steve Cote, Ryan Lyster, and Colten Thurotte who each registered 2 or more hits. The Red Lions pounded out 4 runs in the first to take a commanding lead and never looked back. Chris Brand provided a 3 RBI home run in the sixth inning to cement the Red Lion lead who went on to defeat the Mets 8 -3 and advance to the Championship final series.

League Championship Semi-Final Series B: Blackhawks vs. Sherwood Park

This series was destined to be an interesting one as the defending league champion Blackhawks (13 -3) faced off against their nemesis, the Athletics (12 -4), who had twice defeated the Blackhawks in regular season play. Game 1 was a tight see-saw contest with the Athletics taking an early 1 -0 lead only to see the Blackhawks steal the lead after 4 innings by a score of 2 - 1. In the 5th, Henry Duke took a Kyle Lawrence offering over the left field fence to tie the game at 2. This game would go an extra inning when, with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th for the Athletics, Cody McElroy was hit by a pitch to bring in the go-ahead run. That run would prove to be the winner as the Athletics closed off the 8th without allowing a run.

Game 2 was all Blackhawks as they struck for 8 runs off of five hits against Brennan Nelson of the Athletics who took the loss. The Blackhawks struck early as lead-off batter Kyle Lawrence walked and eventually scored. The Hawks added another in the 3rd, two in the 6th, and closed the game off with 4 more runs in the top of the seventh for an 8 - 0 victory. Regan Hoet was his usual dominant self for the Blackhawks going the full seven innings while giving up only 2 hits and 2 walks while counting 7 strikeouts.

As was game one of this series, the third and deciding game was a tightly played and hard fought contest pitting two determined clubs. The game was scoreless until the fifth when the Athletics scored 3 runs off starter Matt Kukovica who was replaced by reliever Jamie Gregg who allowed another pair of runs in the seventh. Cody McElroy had a stellar performance on the hill for the Athletics giving up only two hits in a complete game performance. McElroy’s performance was helped along by left fielder Callen Kenyon who made two outstanding back to back catches in left field. With a shutout victory of their own, the Athletics would move on to play the Red Lions in the Championship Final Series.

League Championship Final Series: Sherwood Park vs. Red Lions

The last time the final series pitted the third and fourth place clubs in the championship series was in 2008 when the fourth place Parkland Whitesox defeated the Legal Indians in two straight games, with the second going three extra innings. This series was played at Remax Field, a neutral site for the NCABL’s 50th anniversary season. The Red Lions wasted little time in game one by jumping to an early 1st inning 3 - 0 lead. The Athletics responded with a run of their own in the first. In the fifth, the Red Lions managed to score 3 more runs off starter Callen Kenyon who was then replaced by Mike Desjarlais. The Athletics did not go away as they came storming back to score 3 runs in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and only one out, Burlett was replaced by reliever Kris Johnson who closed the door for the Red Lions ending the threat. Burlett went 41/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs (3 earned) while registering 5 strikeouts and hitting 2 batters. Callen Kenyon took the loss going five innings for the Athletics allowing 6 earned runs on 4 hits, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts and hitting 6 batters. The final score: Westlock Red Lions 6 Sherwood Park Athletics 4.

The Red Lions were looking to close the series in two straight games when they managed to score the lead run in the second inning, but Sherwood Park would have nothing to do with it as they stormed back with 5 runs against Red Lion starter Adam Sawatzky to take a big 5 - 1 lead in the fourth inning. The tempo of this crucial game rose even higher when, in the bottom of the fourth, the Red Lions stormed back to score 5 runs of their own and regain the lead by a slim margin of 6 -5. Back came the Athletics in the sixth to score 2 runs and push the Red Lions to the bottom of the seventh while holding a 7 - 6 lead over the series leader. The drama was at a high pitch when Ryan Teske got onboard courtesy of a hit by pitch. He would later score the tying run on a wild pitch. With the score tied at 7 and with two out and a runner in scoring position, Chris Brand provided a clutch single to left field driving in the winning run and series winner. Mike Desjarlais took the loss in relief of Brennan Nelson while Kris Johnson took the win in relief of Adam Sawatzky. Final score: Red Lions 8 Sherwood Park 7.

Chris Brand, who was absolutely outstanding both defensively and on the stick for the Red Lions all through the Series was named the Most Valuable Player of the Championship Series. With the win, the Red Lions were crowned league champions in the 50th anniversary year. This championship victory marked the 18th time that the Red Lions have taken home the coveted cup.

The above review was a collaborative effort between Earl Thompson and Paul Riopel
Official Release from the Office of the North Central Alberta Baseball League

Annual Awards Presented at Gala Banquet

The 2017 annual awards were given a higher profile this season as they were all presented during the League’s 50th Anniversary Gala Banquet held in Westlock on August 19th. The MVP of the League Championship Series was presented one week later at Remax Field following the Red Lion victory over the Sherwood Park Athletics in straight games. For the complete award summary go to the Commissioner’s Corner or click here for quick access.

Parade marshall Celine McElroy on Cisco leads the grand entrance. To her right, Associate Commissioner Ed Ewasiuk while to her left, Darrell Dingwall and Shelly Lake representing our sponsors, the Beverly Optimist Club of Edmonton.

Commissioner Riopel is seen thanking 50th anniversary Director Ed Ewasiuk for his countless hours spent on the All-Star Event. Also mentioned was Kurtus Millar, SAMBA President, who lent the League his enthusiastic support.

“Mourning Wood” delighted the crowd with two dynamic sets during the tail gate rock concert which preceded the All-Star Game.

NCABL Hall of Fame Opens in Morinville

The first sport specific Hall of Fame to be opened in Alberta by an amateur league was dedicated during an official ceremony in Morinville on the evening of April 6th. Housed in the Morinville Historical Museum, the Hall of Fame will henceforth become the permanent home for the NCABL’s major annual awards. Also to be housed in this location will be the League’s extensive archival collection including administrative manuals, comprehensive statistical data on teams and players, press books, and artifacts of historical note.

Beautiful oak cabinets with soft interior lighting provide a rich backdrop for the League’s major awards.

The event was attended by mayors, deputy mayors, and councillors from numerous municipal jurisdictions. Joining them were representatives from the NCABL Board of Governors, Directors from the NCABL 50th Anniversary Executive Committee, members from the Morinville Historical Society, and other special guests. Covering the event were numerous media sources from the region. Murray Knight welcomed those gathered on behalf of the Morinville Historical Society before introducing Commissioner Paul Riopel who spoke warmly of the partnership between the League and the Historical Society. Mr. Riopel then turned his attention to depicting baseball as a significant contributor to the development and fabric of early pioneer life before morphing into the highly skilled game we have grown to know today.

Commissioner Riopel delivers the welcoming address before forty dignitaries to open the NCABL Hall of Fame.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was presided over by Deputy-Mayor Nicole Boutestein from Morinville, City Mayor Nolan Crouse from St. Albert, and Councillor Curtis Snell from Westlock. The three aforementioned communities were all designated as host sites for the NCABL’s six 50th anniversary events running from April through August of this year in conjunction with Canada’s 150th birthday.

( From left to right) Councillor Curtis Snell, Deputy-Mayor Nicole Boutestein, and Mayor Nolan Crouse are focused on during the official ribbon cutting ceremony which opened the NCABL Hall of Fame.

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Club stats released May 30, 2018
LCS Club stats released August 28, 2017
St. Albert Cardinals
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