Features from seasons past

2017


Primeaus Give Red Lions New Life



In the final regular season game of the 2017 campaign, the young Cardinals were hopeful that they would punch their own ticket into the post season by defeating the Primeaus. Although the Red Birds looked strong in the opening innings and held a 5-2 lead in the middle frame, the Primeaus came to play despite having just returned from Lac la Biche where they qualified for the premier division final before rain cancelled the final game on Monday. McLean-Poll threw well enough for the Red Birds to earn a game MVP, but costly defensive errors combined with eleven stranded runners left the Cardinals short of their goal which was to have qualified for the very first time for a chance to play in the League Championship Series. The Primeaus sent three pitchers to the mound including starter Kyle Fagnan, middle reliever Ryan Mehler, and closer Mike Henry. The highlight play of the game saw Primeau centre fielder Blair Cowley throw a bullet to Craig Fagnan at second whose sprawling tag cut short a Red Bird’s attempt at acquiring second base and starting another Cardinal rally. The win for the Primeaus left them in a three-way tie for fourth but they were not in a position to overtake either the Cardinals or the Red Lions. Their win over the Cardinals simply gave the Red Lions, who have not missed the post-season dance since 2010, another window of opportunity. That window of opportunity will be taking place next Monday, August 14th, at Keller Field when the Red Lions will try to claw their way back into the LCSFS by defeating the much improved St. Albert Cardinals. Game time is 6:45 PM.



Former NCABL Official Statistician Donated Earnings



Bruce Kirby, a long time official statistician with the NCABL, turned an otherwise disappointing day for Manager Brett McElroy into something of a more pleasant one. A strong supporter and lucky winner of the game's 50-50 jackpot of $202, Bruce kindly donated his winnings to the leadership group of the Sherwood Park Athletics who finished second to the Stony Plain Mets at the All-Star break and were subsequently represented by a strong compliment of players led by Manager Brett McElroy. Hats off to you, Bruce!



Beverly Optimist Pitching All But Silences Visitors



The home club, sponsored by the Beverly Optimist Club of Edmonton, had little difficulty silencing their opponents sponsored by Leon's Paint and Carpet as they dumped the visitors 12 - 1 at Legion Park in St. Albert in the 50th anniversary All-Star Game. Although the skies were overcast, the rain stayed away long enough for the game to be played in a typical NCABL time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Nathan Swap from the Red Lions was chosen as the MVP of the game on the basis of a solid defensive performance at first base to go along with his two hits and four RBI's plus a run scored. The home club allowed only 6 hits behind the pitching of Yarema, Sawatzky, and Creelman. Turner and Cameron were strong in relief as they shut the door completely on the visitors. Matt Purschke went 2 for 4 for the visitors who had a difficult time generating any kind of threat in the ball game.



An open letter of invitation to all NCABL Alumni
Issued by the Commissioner of the NCABL



The North Central Alberta Baseball League will be marking its 50th anniversary this year in conjunction with Canada's 150th birthday. To commemorate this remarkable achievement, the NCABL will be organizing six major events over the course of the regular season. The first of these will be taking place in Morinville, Alberta, on April 6th ,at the Historical Museum where the League will be unveiling its Hall of Fame. This is the first sport specific Hall of Fame ever opened by an independent league in the history of the Province of Alberta.

The second major event will be taking place on Sunday, July 16th, in St. Albert, Alberta. This event will incorporate the annual All-Star Game and will include a family friendly “old fashioned” tail gate party replete with outdoor entertainment for young and old. Plan on joining us for a full afternoon of camaraderie and great baseball.

All other events will be taking place during our alumni week-end from August 18th through 20th in Westlock, Alberta. This week-end offers the perfect opportunity for a team reunion while celebrating a significant milestone in our League's history. I invite all of our alumni to first join our registry by going on-line and providing us with a few basic pieces of information. Every registered alumni will be receiving a personal invitation in the form of a detailed package of information to be issued early in the month of April. Details of all events will also be posted on our main page at www.ncabl.ab.ca on an ongoing basis. Since significant advance planning is required to stage such a week-end, the NCABL is offering a tremendous Early Bird Premium Alumni Week-End Package. Look for it, register early, and plan on spending an unforgettable week-end with your NCABL family.

Major Events during the Alumni Week-End will include:

Friday, August 18th, 2017: Agricultural Fair Parade
Meet & Greet: The NCABL Story
Saturday, August 19th, 2017: Alumni Mixed Texas Scramble Golf Tournament
Championship Semi-Final A&B (free admission)
Salute to Our Communities: A Sports Expo (free admission
50th Anniversary Gala Banquet
Sunday, August 20th, 2017: Championship Semi-Final Series A&B (free admission)
Friday - Sunday: AG Society Events including chuckwagon races & more


We will be providing free holiday trailer parking (without hook-ups) within the Town of Westlock on a pre-registration basis only. We have also negotiated special rates at three local hotels. When booking, please mention the NCABL (North Central Alberta Baseball League) to obtain the best rates. These will be guaranteed until July 15th only. Take the first step and book you hotel accommodations as soon as the invitations are released early in April.



Tail Gate Party Time in St. Albert



If your family is looking for an inexpensive and fun filled time on a lazy summer afternoon, consider taking them to Legion Field on Sturgeon Road on Sunday, July 16th. Gates open at 11:00 AM Bring a picnic lunch, a BBQ, or simply buy your eats from our friendly concessions. Drive up to the friendly parking attendants, members of the St. Albert Cardinals, in your pick-up truck and a BBQ in the back, and you will be treated to the day’s first surprise, a free family pack of delicious hamburger to kick start your picnic. But that is not the end of it. You will be provided with a picnic table reserved just for you and your family. The first 25 trucks receive priority parking and special tail gate treatment, so plan on arriving as early as possible.

Whether you plan on tail gating or not, there will be plenty for you to do on the grounds before the game even begins. We have produced wonderful souvenir items commemorating our 50th and these will be on sale at our kiosk all through this event. A few other boutiques will also offer a little diversity for your shopping pleasure. Beginning at 12:30, “Mourning Wood” will be performing a full rock concert on our grounds. Bring a chair or blanket and plan on making yourself comfortable. Speaking of comfortable, we will also be operating a beer garden throughout the day. While parents and teens are whiling their time away at the concert, elementary aged kids will be fully entertained by a complete staff of Canada 150 personnel and NCABL volunteers who will be leading them in old fashioned summer picnic activities in a safe and enclosed area adjacent to the concert site. Free ice cream will be handed out to all participants and some lucky children on the grounds will also receive complimentary collector baseball cards compliments of a private donor.

Between sets, fans will also get to hear our City of St. Albert singer-songwriter finalists performing their own creations. After the outdoor performances, fans will be invited to move into the bleachers to catch the pre-game show at 3:00 PM. Lia Cole will headline this event with her award winning rendition of “Home to Me” as our mounted Canada 150 representative rides in on her beautiful quarter horse with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police flanking her on either side and the two All-Star Teams following in step. Don’t miss the first pitch as Mayor Nolan Crouse attempts to “show his stuff”. Following our national anthem and the official presentation of the home Beverly Optimist All-Stars and visiting Leon Carpet & Paint All-Stars, fans will be treated to the NCABL All-Star Game. Don’t throw your ticket stubs away because great prizes will be drawn throughout the game. Admission is only $5 for adults (13 +). Children under 12 are admitted free. You can also tail gate for free outside of the grounds surrounding our beautiful park. Come tail gate with us, St. Albert!

All-Star Tilt Expected to Draw Large Crowd



Mark July 16th on your calendar. Commissioner Riopel and All-Star Game Director for the 50th anniversary edition, Mr. Ed Ewasiuk, have a friendly wager going. Will total attendance surpass the thousand mark or will it simply shatter the previous high for paid attendance at an NCABL All-Star Game? We won’t say just yet on what side of that wager each of these gentlemen is on, but by all accounts this event is not to be missed.

Today, League Office released the playing rosters for the home and visiting clubs. Both the home club Beverly Optimist All-Stars and visiting club Leon Paint & Carpet All-Stars had five players voted to their squads leaving the All-Star Managers room for ten selections each. Both Managers have built strong and well balanced clubs with plenty of pitching depth. Manager Brad Walde whose club was leading the League standings at the All-Star deadline will be well armed with five proven hurlers on his staff including Brandon Yarema who was voted in at that position. Brett McElroy, whose surging Athletics were second in the standings at the break will be countering with college returnee Forrest Hisey supported by work horse Shawn Noble, Chris Mott, and closer Kyle Muzechka. Both Managers have structured their clubs in such a way as to keep all players in position and playing that position through most of the game while rotating into the game a greater number of pitchers. The game has all the promise of a great baseball showcase. Game time is 3:15 PM on Sunday, July 16th, at Legion Field in St. Albert. For the complete rosters of voted and selected all-star players, click here.



Sherwood Park Athletics Host Community Appreciation Night



The Sherwood Park Athletics have returned home to Centennial Park after a three year absence and are getting into the spirit of the League’s 50th anniversary celebrations by hosting a free family event on the evening of Friday, June 16th, at Centennial Park. Fans of the Athletics and fans of good baseball are welcome to attend this special community tribute which will feature a regular season game between the Athletics and the visiting Edmonton Primeaus. A full service food truck will be on site and beer sales throughout the stands will enhance everyone’s viewing pleasure. This is a great opportunity to cheer on the Athletics as they express their gratitude to their local community. Everyone is welcome to attend.






Join the Flock of Eager Birds and Save



Don’t wait until August to register for the Alumni Week-End in Westlock. This link will take you directly to the on-line registration form. If you are an alumni, please join the alumni club first. This will guarantee that you will receive any and all mail-outs concerning the 50th anniversary celebrations as well as any future mail outs pertaining to our alumni members. Remember that even if you are not an alumni of the NCABL, you can still use our 50th anniversary form to pre-register for any of our events. You can also pre-order anniversary memorabilia from our great selection of items using our on-line registration form. By purchasing a package deal, you can save big time and have access to many free items such as a free day pass to the agricultural and chuck wagon events as well as to a free commemorative magazine among other giveaways that you will find in your welcome grab bag when you arrive and present yourself at the welcome desk at the Spirit Centre in Westlock. The Eager Bird Offer ends on June 30th, so don’t delay. If you are more comfortable registering by mail, simply download the registration form from our website, print it, and mail us your form with payment to: NCABL at P.O. Box 3298, Morinville, Alberta, T8R 1S2.






NCABL 50th Anniversary Family Tail Gate Party and All-Star Game



The NCABL (North Central Alberta Baseball League) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. As part of those celebrations and in conjunction with SAMBA (St. Albert Minor Baseball Association) and the City of St. Albert 150 Committee, we are promoting a family oriented event dubbed “Family Tail Gate Party and All-Star Game”. This event will be held at Legion Memorial Ball Park in St. Albert on Sunday, July 16th, from 11:00 AM until 6:00 PM. The essential components of this event include:

Focus on a large scale family picnic surrounding the diamonds at Legion Field with a special promo thrown in. The first 25 pick-up trucks to arrive on site with any kind of BBQ in the back, will receive a family pack of frozen hamburger on us and a table will be set aside for their family to enjoy a good old family tail gate picnic.

Inside the grounds, a concession will offer food services to those preferring not to prepare a picnic, there will also be numerous kiosk’s setup from some local vendors such as NCABL Merchandise Sales, Prairie Couture, Good Life Fitness, etc. Also, once inside the grounds, elementary aged students will be invited to participate in ten “old time picnic activities”, organized and directed by volunteers from the NCABL and the City of St. Albert 150 Committee. Once completed, children will receive complimentary ice cream. Throughout the early afternoon, volunteers will be mingling with the crowd providing Canada birthday curios, face painting for kids, etc.

All children are admitted free, while adults will be asked a nominal $5 fee for admission to the grounds where an afternoon rock concert featuring the ever popular local band “Mourning Wood” will perform on an outdoor stage. Also featured in the afternoon will be the finalists of the St. Albert singer/songwriter competition.

The final event of the day will include a grand entrance by the two NCABL All-Star clubs led by a horsewoman on a beautiful quarter horse carrying a huge Canada-150 flag. On-field celebrations will include a rendition of Home to Me by Lia Cole, grand prize winner of St. Albert’s150 Songwriting Competition. After the official opening pitch, and player introductions, spectators will be treated to a game played by the League’s top talent. During the game, spectators will have an opportunity to win many beautiful gifts which will be drawn throughout the game.



Timeline:
11:00 AM Gates Open
Tail gate registrants with trucks slotted into picnic areas
12:30 PM Old time children's Sunday picnic games begin in the Bantam diamond
Rock Concert with "Mourning Wood" begins on outdoor stage
1:30 PM Players arrive for warm-up on main diamond
2:30 PM Players gather for parade/children games end/concert ends
2:45 PM Pre-game festivities begin
3:15 PM All-Star Game begins
6:00 PM The event comes to an end



Curtis Smith, Parade Director for the NCABL’s 50th Anniversary, provided these pictures of the NCABL entry into both the St. Albert and Morinville parades. More parade appearances are being planned for July and August.

Circling the Bases Returns with host Earl Thompson




The ever popular host of Circling the Bases returns for another season as coverage of the NCABL’s 50th anniversary season ramps up just before Sunday’s league openers. Earl Thompson knows a thing or two about baseball, but his instinct for asking the right questions always seems to elicit the best responses from everyone being interviewed. In addition to regular season coverage and analysis from Earl, fans can expect to tune in on enlightening interviews with league personnel, managers, and players throughout the season. Major 50th anniversary events will also be covered on an ongoing basis. The program releases happen every Monday throughout May, June, July, and August. Go to League on the main page and scroll down to “Circling the Bases” or click here.



Official Scorers Released by NCABL




Following yet another official scoring clinic led by chief instructor Ryan Petryshyn, our scorers are ready to put their skills to work beginning on Sunday. Scorers in the NCABL have an important job to do as their good judgment and sharp recording skills are constantly needed to produce accurate and reliable statistics. These statistics are in turn useful in assessing the relative performance of our fine athletes. We wish our scorers well this season and encourage all players to occasionally demonstrate their appreciation of the work that these fine volunteers perform for the League. For a complete list of all 2017 accredited scorers go to contacts on the main page and scroll down to the “Commissioner’s Corner” or click here for a quick reference check.
Spring Bi-Annual Meeting Focuses on 50th Anniversary



The Board of Governors settled for a sixteen game regular season schedule following the departure of the Barrhead Orioles this season. Three new Governors currently sit on the eighteen person board which meets twice yearly to conduct the business affairs of the NCABL. For a complete highlight package of the annual Spring Bi-Annual Meeting, go to Contacts and scroll down to Commissioner’s Corner or click here.

Traditional Sanctioned Tournaments Face Extinction




In an unprecedented move, Governors at the 2016 NCABL Fall Bi-Annual Meeting held in St. Albert voted to end the guaranteed status of a long standing tradition in the League, that of the sanctioned tournament package. The NCABL had supported the sanctioned tournaments through enforced legislation for fortynine years. As time elapsed since the founding of the League in 1968, the package of protected tournaments had dropped from eight, to six (affectionately known as the six-pack), and finally to four in more recent years. Despite an impassioned plea from Commissioner Riopel, the Board saw no benefit to sustaining the sanctioned tournament package beyond 2016. Financial considerations and a lower commitment by players to week-end baseball events were the main reasons cited by those who spoke to eliminate the compulsory nature of these tournaments. The tournament circuit in north central Alberta was immediately impacted with the withdrawal of the Blue Heron Invitational Tournament in Barrhead and that of the Rainmaker Invitational Tournament in St. Albert. The Blue Willow Invitational Tournament had voluntarily withdrawn from the sanctioned tournament circuit this past season, but did not host a tournament in 2016. This will leave only two declared sanctioned tournaments for 2017.

The idea behind the introduction of a guaranteed package of sanctioned tournaments in the NCABL was spurned by a desire to offer clubs who might want to adopt a developmental strategy (also referred to as a designation) an opportunity to play approximately forty games per season within a tight geographical area. Short travel distances meant less time spent on the road at less cost to those clubs. This model also allowed clubs who were not interested in embarking in a developmental program an equal opportunity to belong to the NCABL by committing only to regular season play. Developmental clubs, on the other hand, had the opportunity of doubling the number of games played during the regular season by adding tournament play to their schedules. The League’s model of offering a regular season in conjunction with a sanctioned tournament package followed that of the USA’s collegiate model of conference and non-conference play where only conference games dictate standings, but where nonconference play allows for stronger player development through any chosen number of additional games. By cutting the support for a mandatory package of sanctioned tournaments, the League will no longer be as attractive to those clubs looking to adopt a developmental strategy. As for clubs opting for the competitive or even the quasi-developmental models, this change will have little to no effect. The only lament, if any is to be heard, will be that tournaments will be fewer in number and farther to reach for those who still are drawn to the flavour of a challenging week-end of baseball and the camaraderie both on and off the field surrounding these team building moments.

Last Chance to Register for the NCABL Official Scoring Clinic




This coming Saturday, April 29th, at Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton, the NCABL will once again be hosting an excellent baseball scoring clinic for the novice and advanced scorer. The all day clinic will provide registrants with all the tools necessary to score a baseball game using sound professional practices. Materials and lunch are included with the low registration fee of $35 which is waived for all NCABL scorers. The clinic begins at 9:00 am and concludes at 4:15 pm. Everyone is welcome. To register, simply E-mail commissioner@ncabl.ab.ca leaving your name, a telephone number, and an E-mail address. Once registered, you will be sent an agenda along with more details about the clinic. Registrations will be accepted until noon on Friday, April 28th. Get a start on the baseball season by learning all about the fascinating game from an entirely different perspective.



2016



Blackhawks Sweep Mets At Edmonton Park


Contributed by Earl Thompson & Paul Riopel



Josh Turner and the Mets were in a must win situation as they faced veteran Regan Hoet (regular season ERA of 0.82) in the second game of the LCFS at Edmonton Park. Early on it looked as though the Mets had come to play. In the second inning, Brandon Strocki singled with two out followed by Al Lyster who hit a long single into centre field to score Strocki giving the Mets their first lead in the series.

The lead would be short lived as the Blackhawks came right back in the top of the third with two runs on RBI’s by Kyle Lawrence and Justin Koch. The Blackhawks would add 2 more runs in the 4th on RBI singles by Jamie Gregg and Jarret Brophy. The Blackhawks added a 5th run in the top of the 5th to make it a 5 - 1 game. The Mets showed a little life in their half of the 5th when, with runners on first and second, they attempted to score the lead runner on a hit to right field. A great throw from the outfield caught the runner at the plate and the inning was over. The Mets appeared listless after that closing the game on three consecutive outs.

Regan Hoet went the distance for the win giving up 8 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, while collecting three strike outs. Josh Turner also went the distance giving up 11 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks while collecting 7 strike outs.

The Blackhawks were presented with the League Championship Trophy for the third time in four years and will once again be wearing the traditional Championship caps which were presented by Commissioner Riopel. Pitcher Kyle Lawrence padded his resume by adding the Most Valuable Player of the Series Award to his regular season MVP award, a most impressive feat. Lawrence pitched 15.33 innings of post-season baseball while recording 1 win and allowing only one run. During that stretch Lawrence struck out 21 batters. When not pitching, Lawrence was rock solid in the outfield. The season closed with the boys of summer still on the field celebrating the moment long after the last fan had left Edmonton Park.



Championship Final Series Opens in Edmonton


Contributed by Earl Thompson & Paul Riopel



Despite having bested the Mets by scores of 7-1 and 16-3 during the regular season, game one of this series between the Blackhawks and Mets was a nail biter.

The Mets went down in order in the top of the first inning, while the Blackhawks scored early in their half of the inning. Kyle Martel stroked a base hit before Justin Koch advanced him to second on a sacrifice bunt. Ryan Gregg’s caught fly ball to right field advanced Martel to third. Kevin Stork’s RBI base hit then brought Martel home. From this point, starting pitchers Mike Cote of the Mets and Kyle Lawrence of the Blackhawks settled in.

The Mets did threaten with two out in the top of the second with back to back base hits from Brandon Strocki and Al Lyster but Lawrence managed to strike out Steve Cote to end the inning.

In the top of the fourth, the Mets once again threatened with two outs when Strocki connected for his second hit of the game followed by an error by Lawrence which left Al Lyster on first. Again with two runners on base, Lawrence struck out Steve Cote on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning and keep the lead at 1-0.

Kevin Geinger replaced Cote on the mound to start the 4th inning. Jamie Gregg promptly got aboard on a throwing error followed by singles from Reschny and Hoet to load the bases. Jamie Gregg scored on a wild pitch giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead. The pinch hitter, Brophy, grounded out followed by successive outs on fly balls to the outfield from Martel and Koch to end the threat.

Tyler Lyster led off the top of the fifth with a walk. With two out, McGeough hit a single. Again the Mets failed to capitalize as Turner grounded out to end the top of the fifth.

The Blackhawks made it 3-0 in their half of the sixth when Geinger was touched for a lead off double from Jamie Gregg. Reschny got on as a result of an error to Radke. Hoet stroked an RBI single to score Gregg, but Geinger was able to limit the damage to only one run by striking out Jennings and getting both Martel and Koch to fly out for the second time.

Steve Cote managed to reach first on a lead off walk in the seventh, but the Mets were unable to muster any offence in their last at bats.

Kyle Lawrence threw a complete game 4 hit shutout while walking 3 and striking out 5 batters. Mike Cote took the loss going 3 innings while giving up only 3 hits, 1 earned run, and walking 2 batters.

Final score: Edmonton Blackhawks 3 Stony Plain Mets 0





The first game of the 2016 NCABL Championship Final Series was played at the Edmonton Professional Ball Park under slightly wet field conditions. The Blackhawks came away with a 3 - 0 victory with the best of three Series continuing on Sunday.


Highlights from the 2015 Fall Bi-Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors
A. The Barrhead Orioles were granted tenure within the North Central Alberta Baseball League folliwing a second successful season.
B. Nathaniel Miller from CFB Edmonton Garrison presented a notice of intent to the Board of Governors regarding their upcoming application for admission into the NCABL effective for the 2016 regular season.
C. "Circling the Bases", the popular audio program hosted by Earl Thompson will be back next season after a successful second year run which saw 18 broadcasts from early May through to mid-September.
D. The NCABL announced the formation of the "Fifty Years of Baseball Executive Committee" which will oversee all of the feature events being planned for 2017. to date, some of the named co-ordinatiors include alumni members Chuck Keller, Ryan Rau, and Rick Mueller. Current member Adam Sawatzky will be heading a major initiative to collect names and E-mail addresses of as many of our estimated 1250 alumni members as possible. The drive has already started and will continue throughout 2016 at which time invitation packages will be sent to all those identified. League Office urges everyone to get on board with the work of identifying and locating alumni members and forwarding these to Mr. Sawatzky whose E-mail information is on this website
E. Commissioner Riopel was happy to announce the return of the entire staff for 2016. Our congratulations to Jani Painter (Website Manager), Ryan Petryshyn (Official Statistician), Earl Thompson (Director of Audio-Visual Programming) and Chuck Keller (Official Scheduler) on a job well done in 2015.
F. The Orioles bid to host both the 2016 ans 2017 All-Star Games was successful. A major change to tradition occurred with the adoption of an afternoon versus evening format. For 2016, another trail will involve pushing the All-Star Game into the very late season. The 2016 All-Star Game will be held on August 7th.
G. Opening Day will be on May 7th with only a single game scheduled. The following day, Mother's Day, will see the majority of clubs playing on the customary start to the NCABL season.
H. The NCABL welcomed the announcement by Servus Credit Union that it was ready to extend their support of the League's post-seondary education grant through to 2018 which added another three seasons to the initial five year commitment.
I. Servus Credit Union also informed the League that it would further promote the NCABL by providing the necessary funds to purchase a second full colour banner to be available in 2016.
J. Commissioner Riopel elaborated on the small gains made by the League in its efforts at attracting future umpire recruits. The NCABL did put on an umpire workshop in September which it hopes will become an annual affair. The work of identifying candidates, filling the mentorship program annually, monitoring and supporting their development will fall under the madate of some of our core umpires.
K. Two service awards will be presented in 2016. Shane Hoetmer will be receiving his ten year service pin as a member of the NCABL's core umpires, while winston Tuttle will be presented with his give year service pin. The League wishes to congratulate them both and to wish them many more years in the umpiring fraternity.
L. The four pack of League Sanctioned Tournaments was duly approved by the Board of Governors.
M. During the annual club reports, the Edmonton Indians requested and were granted a name change to the Edmonton Primeau's. As with all name changes, individual and club records begin anew as the books close on the previous franchise.
N. It was duly noted that more clubs have registered with the League as quasi-developmental for the 2016 regular season than has been the case in previous years.


Highlights from the 2015 Spring Bi-Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors
A. Ten franchises will be returning to compete for the 2015 pennant. Returning clubs include three from the capital city (Edmonton Indians, Edmonton Blackhawks, and Edmonton Athletics), three from the capital region (Sherwood Park Athletics, Stony Plain Mets, and St. Albert Cardinals), and four from the outlying rural area (Camrose Axemen, Sturgeon Paladins, Westlock Red Lions, and Barrhead Orioles).
B. The Sherwood Park Athletics have announced that the club will continue to make Wally Footz Field home for the 2015 season.
C. Eight new governors joined the Board in 2015, the single largest turnover in recent years. Welcomed by Commissioner Riopel were Bryan Toles (absent) from the Axemen, Kyle and Craig Fagnan from the Indians, Kurtus Millar from the Cardinals, Brad Walde and Brandon Strocki from the Mets, along with Bryan Bartman and Scott St. Jean from the Paladins.
D. The 2015 deadline date was extended to August 14th pushing the LCSFS to August 22 & 23 and the LCFS to August 29 & 30. The change was necessitated due to contractual arrangements with the Westlock & District Agricultural Fair Board.
E. A decision on whether or not to acquire league-wide liability insurance was postponed and will be dealt with at the next Fall Bi-Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.
F. Two new umpires were appointed to the core of umpires. Our congratulations to Matt Beaudry and Coleten Leblanc who will join a capable and devoted group of umpires who work the NCABL on a regular basis.
G. It was announced that the Official Scoring Clinic will once again be open to all minor league personnel wishing to obtain certification in this area. The clinic runs on April 18th at the Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton.


Highlights from the 2016 Spring Bi-Annual Board of Governors Meeting
1- The 2016 All-Star Game will be a matinee affair scheduled for Sunday, July 17th, andhosted by the Orioles in Barrhead. The two year bid will also see the game return toBarrhead for the 50th anniversary edition.
2- The Orioles also responded to the League’s request for a fourth tournament by returning the Blue Heron Invitational to the four-pack of sanctioned tournaments.
3- The Primeau’s unveiled their new uniforms to go along with a name change fromIndians back to the earlier Primeau name associated with their franchise when itwas anchored in Legal, Alberta.
4- It was moved that a high school outreach program be adopted for the purpose ofattracting young candidates to umpiring.
5- Circling the Bases returns for a full season of broadcasts beginning in May.
6- The Edmonton Athletics and Edmonton Blackhawks expressed an interest in enteringthe Baseball Alberta Provincial Championship at the Senior AA level. The Western Canada Championship is being held in Cold Lake , Alberta, this year.


Classic Defensive Gem Kick Starts NCABL Semi-Final Series A


Contributed by Earl Thompson & Paul Riopel

The first game of the semi-final Series between the Blackhawks and Red Lions proved to be an exciting and closely contested affair. The game remained scoreless until the top of the 5th inning when, with two out, the Red Lions managed to string two consecutive hits. With two runners on base, Nathan Swap delivered with a sharp single bringing in the first run of the ball game.

With time running out for the Blackhawks in the bottom of the 7th, a lead off base hit followed by a Red Lion error on an attempted sacrifice bunt suddenly gave the Blackhawks new life. Another base hit loaded the bases before Dustin Reschny delivered with yet another single driving in the tying run. With none out the Blackhawks looked confident that the game could be won in walk off fashion. But Curtis Burlet had other ideas as he got the next two Blackhawk batters to fly out before striking out the third to throw the game into extra innings.

This game would see-saw back and forth with both teams having their chances until the bottom of the 10th when with the bases loaded, Ryan Gregg was hit by a pitch bringing in the winning run and giving the Blackhawks the all important first game victory. Kyle Lawrence, the 2016 MVP of the Year, was outstanding on the mound for the Blackhawks amassing 16 strikeouts in 7 and one third innings pitched. Regan Hoet got the win with 2.2 innings pitched. Burlet went the distance in taking the loss giving up 8 hits over ten innings to go along with 5 strikeouts.

Final score: Edmonton Blackhawks 2 Westlock Red Lions 1


Athletics Tamed by the Mets in the First Game of Their Series


Contributed by Earl Thompson

Unfortunately for the second seed Sherwood Park Athletics, this game was over early as the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning on the way to scoring 5 runs on 4 hits. With the deficit already significant, the Mets heaped 4 more runs in the third inning to make it a 9 -0 game. In this game, the Athletics could not seem to get anything going against Mets pitcher Josh Turner who went the distance while giving up only 2 hits and 1 walk. Turner struck out 6 batters on his way to recording the win. Catcher Brandon Strocki led the way for the Mets with a double, single, stolen base, walk, and 4 RBI’s.

Final score: Stony Plain Mets 9 Sherwood Park Athletics 0


Blackhawks and Red Lions Keep Fans in Their Seats


Contributed by Earl Thompson & Paul Riopel

Game two in the best of three Series between these two clubs continued where it had left off by providing high drama. The Red Lions took an early lead scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the first and adding a third in the second inning. They looked to be on their way to tying the series until the Blackhawks came roaring back in their half of the fourth by scoring 4 runs to take the lead 4-3. The Red Lions quickly answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead 5-4.

The Blackhawks would again strike back in the seventh inning with the tying run and in dramatic fashion attempted to score the go ahead run only to be thwarted by Chris Brand’s strong throw from the outfield which cut down the second runner for the third out.

Into extra innings for the second time in the Series did both teams battle with each club seeing opportunities vanish as a result of good defence and outstanding pitching. In the tenth, opportunity knocked for the Blackhawks as they scored two runs to give themselves the lead they would not relinquish. Although the Red Lions responded with a two out double in the bottom of the inning, the Blackhawks took no chances by bringing in Hoet in relief who extinguished any hope the Red Lions may have had of repeating as League Champions. The Series was over after 20 innings of incredibly entertaining baseball which will not be soon forgotten by those fans in attendance.

Final score: Edmonton Blackhawks 7 Westlock Red Lions 5


Mets Advance to LCFS


Contributed by Earl Thompson & Chuck keller

After getting trounced 9-0 in game one of their Series against the Mets, the Sherwood Park Athletics were looking for a bounce back effort to force a 3rd and deciding game.

Game 2, however, started out much the same as game 1 as the Mets’ Chad Spellman led off the bottom of the 1st with a base hit, stole 2nd ,took 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a bases loaded walk. The Mets went on to score another run in the 2nd inning and took a commanding lead in the 3rd with 4 more runs as starter Brennan Nelson struggled with his control, hitting 3 batters, walking 2 more and giving up a bases loaded double to Chad Spellman. With a 6-0 lead the Mets looked to be in total control.

To their credit, the Athletics did not throw in the towel. RBIs by Cole Viger and Kent Morrison in the 4th inning off starter Kevin Geinger gave the Athletics their first runs of the series narrowing the score to 6-2 after four innings of play.

With reliever Mike Cote now on the mound for the Mets, the Athletics’ Mike Falkins cracked a 2 RBI base hit in the 5th inning to close the gap to 6-4. One inning later, the young Sherwood Park crew tied it up when Henry Duke hit a shot to right field that went for a 2 run triple.

In the top of the seventh, the Athletics threatened to take their first lead of the game only to leave runners stranded on second and third. In the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second, the Athletics elected to make a pitching change and brought in Henry Duke. Chad Spellman greeted him with a base hit to load the bases. In dramatic walk off fashion, Brad Walde lined a pitch into right field to claim the victory and series for the Mets.

Mike Cote was credited with the win for the Mets while Brennan Nelson, who pitched well for the most part, took the loss. Despite falling in two straight games, the Athletics showed signs of maturing as a team and will undoubtedly be seen again in the League Championship Series. Cole Viger, Evan Hole, and Henry Duke were 2 for 4 on the day for the Athletics, while the Mets were led by Spellman who finished 3 for 5.

Final score: Stony Plain Mets 7 Sherwood Park Athletics 6


University or College Bound NCABL Players Take Note

For the sixth year running, the North Central Alberta Baseball League, in partnership with Servus Credit Union, will be offering an educational grant to a deserving NCABL player who qualifies. The deadline for applications is fast approaching. The application process is relatively simple and all of the details can be found in the Commissioner’s Corner under Contacts on our main page. If you are planning to be in full time attendance at a post secondary institution anywhere in North America in the 2016-17 academic year, you can apply to receive a $500 grant. Simply follow the links and submit your application on or before the regular season deadline date of August 12, 2016. Your League believes in supporting its young players in their academic pursuits as well as providing them with good quality amateur baseball opportunities.

Calling On Our Alumni Everywhere

You’ve heard the buzz by now, but have you signed up yet as an NCABL alumni? The League is currently building a registry of players, managers, coaches, umpires, and sponsors who have at one time or another been involved with us. We have given ourselves six months to reach as many of our former members as possible. It’s easy as pie to register. Simply go to contacts on our main page and scroll down to “register as an NCABL alumni”, or click here. Follow the easy directions and you will be included on our invitation list come January. This will be an invitation to attend two celebrations. The 50th Anniversary All-Star Game, to be hosted in Barrhead in July of 2017 will be the first of two major events. The second will be the 50th Anniversary Alumni Week-End to be held in August of 2017 in Westlock, Alberta. We need your communication skills to help us along, whether these skills are verbal or technological. Get out there and tell your baseball friends all about our upcoming celebrations or get on social media and spread the word that way. Whatever you do, don’t just stand for doing nothing. We want everyone to join us in celebrating a great Alberta tradition, the North Central Alberta Baseball League.

Circling the Bases To Offer 50th Anniversary Updates

Players and fans will have one more reason to tune in to Circling the Bases at any time during the week. With a new show released every Monday night, Earl Thompson’s informative talk show will not only continue to provide timely baseball related news but will also touch upon what might be in the works regarding the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. This is the kind of program that you can listen to at any time from the comfort of your home or office by simply finding League on our main page and scrolling down to Circling the Bases. Are you sitting on a new piece of information related to baseball? Why not call Earl to make him aware of it?



League Championship Final Series Moves to Telus Field
The League has announced a last minute change of venue and game times for the most important series of the 2016 season. The League Championship Final Series between the Edmonton Blackhawks and the Stony Plain Mets will be played at the Edmonton Professional Ball Park formerly known as Telus Field. The times for all games have also changed as a result. The first game of the best of three series will be played on Saturday, August 27th, at 11:30 AM. This will be the only game played on Saturday. The Series will resume on Sunday, August 28th, with a second game scheduled to start at 2:30 PM. A third and final game, if necessary, would follow immediately after the conclusion of the second game. Fans are advised to pass the word around that their last chance to see some of Alberta’s best amateur baseball will be this coming Saturday and Sunday. Admission on both days will be $5. Children ten years and younger will be admitted free of charge if accompanied by an adult. The Ken Schultz Memorial Award, the most coveted award in the NCABL, will be presented on-field just prior to game time along with the NCABL’s Education Grant for superior studies to a worthy recipient from the League’s eligible youth. The latter is being sponsored by Servus Credit Union, Morinville branch.


2016 NCABL All-Star Game Set for Barrhead on Sunday

The North Central Alberta Baseball League has finalized and released the names of all players who will be facing one another in the 2016 edition of the League's All-Star Game. Go to League on this page and scroll down to All-Star Club 2016 (or click here) for the complete roster selections by club and position. The title sponsor for the home club will be Leon's Carpet and Paint from Barrhead, Alberta. The visiting club will be sponsored by the Beverly Optimist Club of Edmonton. Game time at Orioles Park is set for 2:00 PM. This All-Star tilt will be the first of two slated for Barrhead in consecutive seasons. The 2017 50th edition of the All-Star Game will also be hosted by the Orioles in Barrhead. Fans are encouraged to come out to the ball park to enjoy good baseball, a festive environment, local food and beverages, along with a chance to win many prizes drawn throughout the game.

Voted All-Stars Released by the NCABL

The North Central Alberta All-Star Game is less than one week away and the excitement surrounding the first Sunday afternoon all-star contest is already mounting. As first time hosts of this prestigious event, the Barrhead Orioles are gearing up for the 2016 match-up between clubs representing the Beverly Optimist All-Stars and those representing Leon's Carpet & Paint Inc., a local Barrhead business. This season's home team, Leon's Carpet & Paint All-Stars, will feature players from the Edmonton Blackhawks, Barrhead Orioles, Stony Plain Mets, Edmonton Primeaus, and Edmonton Athletics. The Beverly Optimist All-Stars will be represented by players from the Westlock Red Lions, Sherwood Park Athletics, Camrose Axemen, St. Albert Cardinals, and Sturgeon Paladins. The Sunday contest will start at 2:00 pm and will feature thirty elite players from the ranks of the NCABL along with Managers and coaches from many clubs. The home manager will be Randy Gregg of the Blackhawks, while the visiting manager will be Adam Sawatzky of the Red Lions. Admission for this event is only $3 while children under 10 are admitted free of charge as well as all minor baseball players in full uniform. Fans will be in for a great afternoon of baseball entertainment with chances to win many prizes to be drawn between innings. The 2016 contest will not be Barrhead's only chance to host an All-Star game as the 50th anniversary All-Star Game has been awarded to Barrhead in 2017. Each year, the League presents a slate of voted all-stars who have impressed Managers from across the League by their offensive and defensive accomplishments. This season's voted all-stars by position are as follows:


Pitcher From the Blackhawks #12 Kyle Lawrence
Catcher From the Blackhawks #5 Sam Ewanishan
First Base From the Blackhawks #11 Kevin Stork
Second Base From the Mets #27 Blair McGeough
Third Base From the Edmonton Athletics #87 Gus Salgado
Shortstop From the Primeaus #19 Kyle Fagnan
Outfield From the Cardinals #6 Hayden Chies
Outfield From the Red Lions #8 Chris Brand
Outfield From the Mets #15 Chad Spellman
Utility From the Edmonton Athletics #7 Peter Shepert


On Thursday, the League will be releasing the names of those players selected to join the voted all-stars. Each club will be comprised of fifteen players all coming from their respective divisions.


Barrhead Fans Cheer Leon's Carpet & Paint All-Stars to Victory

It was a great day for baseball in the North Central Alberta Baseball League. It was an even greater day for baseball in Barrhead. Not only did mother nature hold back the rain, but fans were treated to a close and exciting game which saw the Beverly Optimist Club All-Stars in the lead for most of the contest until the seventh when the opportunistic home club sponsored by Leon's Carpet & Paint tied the game and won it with bases loaded and two out on a walked batter who scored the winning run in walk off fashion. Final score: Leon's Carpet & Paint All-Stars 5 and the Beverly Optimist Club All-Stars 4.

The following are the captive highlights from the 2016 All-Star game which was attended by over 200 fans:

For the Beverly Optimist Club All-Stars:

Most effective pitching performance was given to Kento Vanzwall of the Cardinals who pitched two scoreless innings while allowing no hits and giving up two walks.
Most effective hitting performance was given to Jordan Riopel whose 2 RBI triple was the most productive hit of the day putting the visitors in the lead to stay until the seventh. Riopel would later score on a sacrifice fly to register three of the four Beverly Optimist runs.
defensive highlight of the game was given to Cole Viger of the Sherwood Park Athletics who turned a most difficult double play by scooping a low throw from Justin Turner at third base and making a great throw to Swap for the double play.

For Leon's Carpet & Paint All-Stars:

Most effective pitching performance was given to Craig Connelly of the Barrhead Orioles who pitched the mandated limit of two innings while also giving up no runs on two hits and one hit batter.
Most effective hitting performance was given to Blair McGeough who went two for two with two walks and one stolen base on the day in addition to scoring a run. McGeough would later be named the game's Most Valuable Player and presented with a game bat among other prizes during a brief post-game presentation.
As no defensive highlight plays were noted on the home side, the steady glove of Blair McGeough at second base merited a mention for defensive effectiveness.


Osborne Honoured by Orioles

In a brief ceremony following the singing of the national anthem, John Osborne, former Canadian National Team pitcher, former US college coach, and former major league scout, threw out the first pitch to officially kick off the 2016 All-Star game. The surprised look on one of the best knuckle ball pitchers in Canada and most certainly the very best the NCABL has ever seen was worth the price of admission as John's number on a replica of his former jersey was unveiled to the crowd. Noticeably touched, the always humble former great acknowledged the Orioles brass who had orchestrated this special event which fit so well with their first ever hosting of the All-Star Game. Congratulations, John, on a great baseball career. The NCABL joins the Orioles and all of Barrhead in thanking you for your contributions to the game and to your chosen community.



Edmonton Athletics Manage A Big Tournament Victory in Lac la Biche

After their last appearance at the Pow Wow Days Invitational Tournament in 2014, the Edmonton Athletics wanted desperately to prove to themselves that their appearance in that tournament's Championship Final game was not a mere stroke of luck. To have lost a close game to the heavily supported Lac La Biche Dodgers in the final game of that tournament only whetted their appetite for a second chance to prove themselves and prove themselves they did during the three day tournament which ran from Saturday thru Monday, July 30 to August 1, in the AA division. The A division started play one day earlier on Friday. The Athletics kicked off the tournament with a close 6-4 decision over the only other NCABL club in that tournament, the Edmonton Primeaus. The Athletics followed that victory by pounding the Roselind Athletics 10 - 1. The Primeaus easily handled the much improved Grande Prairie Brewers who recently clinched the pennant in the AA Wheatbelt League by a score of 11 - 0 largely as a result of a brilliant pitching performance from Blair Cowley who also amassed three doubles and drove in four RBI's in the game. Sunday's action on the premier side began with what some fans may have considered to have been the best played game of the entire tournament as the Brewers and Reselind Athletics battled to a 4 - 4 draw which stood due to tournament regulations which stated that tie games would be permitted due to time constraints in the round robin. The Primeaus, also looking for their second victory of the tournament, managed to get by the Roselind Athletics by a score of 8 - 6, while the Brewers finished Sunday's action with a close 5 -3 victory over the Edmonton Athletics. But the stage had already been set for an all NCABL final between the Athletics and the Primeaus. Both clubs showed a little fatigue as they battled for tournament supremacy and the largest tournament purse of any Alberta baseball tournament this season. The Edmonton Athletics with Mark Trela on the hill simply outlasted the Primeaus who sent three pitchers into the game before bowing 14 - 8 to the Athletics. Although out of the post-season race, the Athletics managed an impressive feat which will hopefully take them into the next season on a positive note.

Orioles to Host Final Sanctioned Tournament

The Barrhead Orioles, fresh off of a successful mid-season surge in the standings, are very optimistic about their future in the NCABL. Despite dropping out of the post season race last week following their defeat at the hands of a desperate Red Lion club, the Orioles are well positioned to once again make their way to the show in the highly competitive North Central Alberta Baseball League in the very near future. The reason for their optimism rests in the fact that their alumni have been quietly grooming young players within the Barrhead Minor Baseball system by serving as coaches and mentors. Former players like Rod Calihoo, Lyle Schaffrick, and Ken Dievert to name but a few have committed time and energy to reviving baseball in Barrhead. Others like Dave Schaffrick and Dean Rau have provided leadership to an up and coming group of new stars who are still developing and who will soon form the nucleus of a new and improved Orioles club. The Orioles stepped up to the plate last spring by formally announcing that they would be hosting the fourth and final sanctioned tournament of the season. The as yet to be announced field of teams will probably number six and will include the young stars of tomorrow, a group of graduating midget players from the general Barrhead area along with some current midget players, who will be getting their first taste of the competition they can expect once they make the jump into the NCABL.

NCABL Returns to Lac la Biche

Only two years have passed since the Town of Lac la Biche celebrated the 100th anniversary of the introduction of baseball to its town. With the assistance of Commissioner Riopel, the Pow Wow Days Association put on a first class senior AA tournament during the 2014 August long week-end. It was announced last Thursday that the NCABL would again be participating in yet another Pow Wow Days sponsored baseball tournament which hopes to attract six quality clubs from different leagues across the province for a three day tournament. The tournament will also include a four team single A division from the locality which will largely be scheduled on Friday, July 29th. Commissioner Riopel has been given the green light to provide at least three of the clubs which will be competing in Lac la Biche on July 30, 31, and August 1. It has been announced that a $5000 prize package will be offered during this tournament which will be officiated using an NCABL crew. Clubs interested in applying should contact Commissioner Riopel without delay for details. A refundable performance bond will be required of every applicant.



Two NCABL Clubs Sign On For Pow Wow

The Edmonton Athletics and Edmonton Primeaus will be lacing up their cleats for the Lac La Biche Pow Wow Invitational Tournament on July 30, 31, and August 1. These two members of the NCABL family hope to share in the spoils as the prize money being offered by the Pow Wow Days Association is one of the largest purses in the entire province, easily surpassing any purse being currently offered at the AAA level of baseball. We wish them well in the land of the great fish derby!

Circling the Bases Offers Up To The Minute News From Around The League

Players and fans are reminded to tune in every Monday evening to Circling the Bases, an informative weekly talk show featuring host Earl Thompson who shares news and views from across the entire League. From up to date signings, to injury reports, to analysis on the state of certain teams, Earl is the voice of the NCABL. If you have an interesting baseball story to tell, Earl would be interested in hearing from you. To reach Earl, go to www.ncabl.ab.ca and scroll down contacts to "officials".

Locating Our Alumni

The League is looking to register all players, managers, coaches, governors, and umpires who have worked or played in the North Central Alberta Baseball League over the course of the past forty-nine years. We want everyone who was ever associated with the League in any capacity to provide us with a name, an E-mail address and a current telephone number. In about a week, look us up on Facebook, and leave us with your contact information. We will be building our alumni directory over the next six months in preparation for the launch of our 50th Anniversary Celebrations next season. Everyone who registers will be receiving via E-mail or regular mail if need be an invitation to both of our major alumni events planned for 2017. Keep Sunday, July 16th, open on your calendar for a very special All-Star Game to include a huge tailgate party and lots of local entertainment. Hosted by the Orioles and the Town of Barrhead, this will surely be a highlight. But the event of the half century will be taking place from August 18 through 20th in Westlock Alberta during the Westlock and District Agricultural Fair. On that week-end, our alumni from all five decades of North Central Alberta baseball will be gathering for the biggest reunion ever. Whether you are planning on driving, bringing along your holiday trailer, or flying to be part of this historic event matters not. But everyone who has donned a uniform and proudly played the game in the NCABL should mark their calendar now. Details of planned events will be forthcoming in short order, but first let's get your name on that registry.
NCABL Returns to Lac la Biche

Only two years have passed since the Town of Lac la Biche celebrated the 100th anniversary of the introduction of baseball to its town. With the assistance of Commissioner Riopel, the Pow Wow Days Association put on a first class senior AA tournament during the 2014 August long week-end. It was announced last Thursday that the NCABL would again be participating in yet another Pow Wow Days sponsored baseball tournament which hopes to attract six quality clubs from different leagues across the province for a three day tournament. The tournament will also include a four team single A division from the locality which will largely be scheduled on Friday, July 29th. Commissioner Riopel has been given the green light to provide at least three of the clubs which will be competing in Lac la Biche on July 30, 31, and August 1. It has been announced that a $5000 prize package will be offered during this tournament which will be officiated using an NCABL crew. Clubs interested in applying should contact Commissioner Riopel without delay for details. A refundable performance bond will be required of every applicant.

Starchuk-Semeniuk Memorial Tournament Rained Out

Gary Macyk has been running the Starchuk-Semeniuk Memorial Tournament in Waskatenau for all of its twenty-four year run, but despite his expertise at putting on a fine "good old country baseball tournament", Gary has not found a way to keep mother nature from raining on his parade. To say that the Starchuk-Semeniuk Tournament has had its share of rain over the years would be a major understatement. Following the opening game of the tournament on Friday night which saw the hometown Chiefs drop a 13 - 5 decision to the Westlock Red Lions, the clouds lingered until morning when incessant rain simply played havoc with the playing field and offered no opportunity to resume this very popular event in the NCABL calendar. The second of four sanctioned tournaments was officially rained out, but the promise of an eight team 25th anniversary tournament in the League's 50th season of operation promises to bring back many to the confines of Pine Creek Park.



Blackhawks Off To Fast Start

It isn't just the six consecutive regular season wins nor the sanctioned tournament victory in the Rainmaker Invitational Tournament last month that impresses the baseball pundits in the NCABL as the season revs up. Rather it is how easy the Blackhawks have made it all look that is making heads turn of late. Bolstered by the return of two key players to their line-up, namely Jamie Gregg and Kevin Stork, the already well balanced Blackhawks have taken their game to the next level. Sadly, their perennial thorn in the side Axemen have been unable to rise to the challenge of matching the Blackhawks with the loss of key personnel in the likes of Riley Guntrip, Dylan Borman, and Chance Wheatley. The Axemen veterans have been playing well of late but a deep bench is everything in a long season which is why holding on to second place might pose to be too big a challenge.

The Mets have also strengthened their roster particularly with the return of Josh Turner on the hill and of Kyle Radke at shortstop, but the Mets collectively have not yet found their A-game. The Red Lions have returned with much the same line-up they fielded for the 2015 Championship Final Series. Although the Red Lions generally play a fundamentally sound defensive game and their bats generally can manufacture runs, the club has laboured early in the season and a few clubs have been able to take advantage of these lapses. Although it may be too early to predict whether the Primeaus can continue to challenge the leaders in the pack, there is a sense early on in this season that for at least half of the clubs, reaching that plateau of .500 baseball may require a magical turnaround.




Commissioner's Corner To Provide Quarterly News on Upcoming 50th Festivities

Be sure to take a few minutes to check out the latest League business reports under Contacts/Commissioner's Corner. You will find highlights from the most recent Board of Governors Meetings, news from our umpiring fraternity, as well as updates on the progress being made by the committee organizing our 50th anniversary celebrations which will be taking place in July and August of 2017. The latest information on scoring clinics as well as a complete registry of official scorers can also be found in the Commissioner's Corner. Click here to find your way there now.

Umpire Mentorship Program Moving Forward

Good quality baseball needs good quality umpiring in order to retain the game's integrity and to allow the full expression of all of the nuances of the game. The NCABL recognizes a need to foster the growth and development of this part of the game. To this end, our mentorship program and fall ID and development camp are aiming to produce a greater number of umpires who are not only familiar with the League but who are also better able to apply their new found knowledge to game situations. The Annual Umpire Meeting has just concluded and everyone has been briefed and is ready to go. This season the League will be covered by eight core and five casual umpires who will be working a total of 90 regular season games and four sanctioned tournaments. In order to sustain our numbers moving forward, all clubs will be approaching a local high school to inform them of our interest in introducing prospective candidates ages 16 - 21 to the officiating side of the game of baseball. Our work has just begun, but the effort has already shown positive results. This augurs well for the future of "the most progressive baseball league in the West".

Spring is for Dreaming of Post Season Glory

An early spring with little snow to contend with has certainly pushed outdoor spring training ahead by at least two weeks. NCABL clubs have been busy studying their rosters and recruiting new players whenever they can to fill vacant spots left open by the retirement of some and the departure of others. Along with the uncertainty comes the anticipation of what the new group of prospective athletes will look like and play like when the season opens on May 7th and 8th. Will our perennial powers return to their enviable positions early in the season? Will a retooled newcomer challenge in the early goings of a new season? Will a club that struggled over the past few seasons suddenly emerge as a new challenger and post-season hopeful? These and many more questions are all part of the rite of spring, a time when the fresh air , warming afternoon sun, and greening grass along with the sound of baseballs popping gloves and cracking off of bats are of seemingly greater importance than any world news. Soon the real season will be starting and the stakes will once again be high. Only four will emerge to play deep into August. Only those teams with the talent to display, the dedication to practice, and the desire to win will experience the thrill of playing late into August.

2015



North Central Alberta Baseball League
Award Ceremony Held on August 22, 2015
At Keller Field in Westlock, Alberta


Presentation of the Servus Cup:
Recipient: Edmonton Blackhawks

The Edmonton Blackhawks continued to make their presence known in the NCABL by capturing a second consecutive pennant, bringing the total number of pennants won to three since joining the League in 2005. The Blackhawks finished the regular season with 14 wins and 4 losses besting the Axemen by a single game. The Blackhawks boasted the stingiest defence in the NCABL having allowed only 57 runs scored against while having scored 127 runs which was second only to the Red Lions with 152 runs scored. The Blackhawks have continued to play a disciplined style of baseball while exhibiting good sportsmanship whenever representing the NCABL in tournament play. The NCABL wishes to congratulate the Blackhawks for this significant achievement this season.


Manager Randy Gregg and Coach Duncan Knoll (Coach Derek St. Laurent missing from photo) accept the Servus Cup from Commissioner Riopel in Westlock.



Presentation of the Bob Kootenay Memorial Award:
Presented to the Manager of the Year:

Recipient: Bryan Toles of the Camrose Axemen

Bryan Toles is a relative newcomer to the coaching ranks within the NCABL. Since having taken over the reigns of the Camrose Axemen from Wes Harrison two years ago, the Axemen have continued to establish themselves as a perennial contender. The Axemen will me making their fourth consecutive post-season appearance. Under Toles, the Axemen have finished second to the Blackhawks in each of the past two regular seasons counting for 28 victories against only 10 losses. Most impressively, Toles has managed to retain the competitive level of the Axemen ball club through two transitional years during which time the club has either lost or retired over half of their 2013 starting line-up. Toles has been successful in blending the remaining core of experienced players with the addition of fresh new talent, producing a success story on the field in the process.


Commissioner Riopel congratulates Bryan Toles of the Camrose Axemen on winning the Bob Kootenay Memorial Award as the league's Manager of the Year.


Tabulated results for the 2015 Manager of the Year:
Ballot Points
Bryan Toles Camrose Axemen 50
Tyson Stasiuk Edmonton Athletics 29
Randy Gregg Edmonton Blackhawks 25



Presentation of the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award:
Presented to the player who has distinguished himself throughout the regular season by his exceptional offensive and defensive abilities resulting in the highest level of performance.

Recipient: Regan Hoet of the Edmonton Blackhawks



Regan Hoet exemplifies all of the qualities of a complete athlete. A talented pitcher, Regan has regularly positioned himself among the NCABL's top ten arms. This season, his 1.93 ERA over 36 innings pitched ranked him second among pitchers behind only Cornelius Friesen of the Orioles who posted an ERA of 1.62 with 39 innings pitched. Off the hill, Hoet is a dangerous offensive threat who can usually find the gaps and whose speed can surprise. Regan finished the regular season among the top twenty batters in the NCABL earning himself leader board status with his .390 batting average. Adding to these great achievements, Regan's infield prowess at shortstop has been recognized by many baseball enthusiasts. Not only has Regan Hoet demonstrated exceptional baseball skills, his display of sportsmanship both on and off the field are fine attributes which qualify him as a truly valuable asset to the Blackhawks.

The League wishes to congratulate Regan Hoet on another fine season and to present him with the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award for 2015. Regan Hoet is a recent two-time Championship Series MVP and was an All-Star Game MVP in 2012.



Commissioner Riopel congratulates Regan Hoet who was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the year in the NCABL in 2015.


Tabulated results for the 2015 Top Ten Most Valuable Players:
Ballot Points
Regan Hoet Edmonton Blackhawks 54
Blair Mulder Camrose Axemen 49
Chris Brand Westlock Red Lions 35
Hayden Chies St. Albert Cardinals 35
Cornelius Friesen Barrhead Orioles 35
Blair McGeough Stony Plain Mets 35
Mike Cote Stony Plain Mets 31
Mark Trela Edmonton Athletics 31
Riley Guntrip Camrose Axemen 27
Dylan Borman Camrose Axemen 25
Kevin Dryburg Sturgeon Paladins 25


Presentation of the Dan Gerlach Memorial Award:
Presented to the Most Promising Junior Player of the Year in the NCABL

Recipient: Dylan Borman of the Camrose Axemen


After a quiet entry into the NCABL in his first season after graduating from the Red Deer Minor Baseball program, Dylan Borman quickly emerged as a young budding star with the Axemen this season. Part of the youth movement being developed by the Axemen, Borman, a tall lanky pitcher and utility infielder, has proven to be a valuable weapon in the Axemen stable of upcoming pitchers. Dylan logged 24 innings in his sophomore season . He faced 104 batters while striking out 32 on his way to a stellar 2.04 ERA. Not only has Dylan impressed at his pitching position. Dylan's power at the plate has begun to emerge as the young slugger amassed 5 doubles, a triple, and a home run at Harry Andraesen Field while recording a .339 batting average on 59 at bats this season.! His 14 RBI's lead the Axemen batters in that category. The NCABL wishes to recognize the successful season Dylan Borman has enjoyed with the Axemen by presenting him with the Dan Gerlach Memorial Award which goes to the most promising junior player in 2015.


Dylan Borman is presented with the Dan Gerlach Memorial Trophy by Commissioner Riopel.


Tabulated results for the 2015 Most Promising Junior Player of the Year
Ballot Points
Dylan Borman Camrose Axemen 59
Ryan Guntrip Camrose Axemen 56
Forrest Hisey Sherwood Park Athletics 29



Award Ceremony Held on August 29th, 2015

At Harry Andreassen Field in Camrose, Alberta



Presentation of the NCABL Education Grant
Sponsored by Our Friends at Servus Credit Union in Morinville

2015 marks the fifth year in which the NCABL has partnered with Servus Credit Union in offering an education grant to a deserving athlete from the League. The athlete in question must be in full time attendance at a post-secondary institution in Canada or the United States. This year's recipient hails from Camrose, Alberta, and has already completed the first year of a Bachelor of Science Degree in biology at Siena Heights University in Michigan. In his first season in the NCABL, Riley Guntrip has proven to be a valuable asset for the Axemen organization, but more importantly Riley was chosen as this year's recipient of the NCABL Educational Award on the strength of his convictions and willingness to work to achieve goals the League holds to be important for all youth. Riley has a proven record of success having registered a GPA of 3.78 in his first year of study. His pursuit of a college education in the United States has tested his willingness and dedication to hard hard work both back home during the summer as well as back at school. Riley has embraced the challenge with the same strength of character that brought him success on the baseball field this season. He was third in batting for the Axemen this season with a .308 batting average and was a constant long ball threat. As a catcher, Riley has all of the defensive tools necessary to both block and call a great game not to mention a deadly accurate arm to stop potential base runners in their tracks. There is plenty of upside to this rookie catcher which is why the NCABL wishes to encourage him to pursue his ambition of one day entering medical school and graduating as a doctor. The Axemen are sure that they can always use a good doctor on their staff.


Riley Guntrip, upon receiving from Commissioner Riopel, the NCABL's Education Grant sponsored by Servus Credit Union.


Presentation of the Ken Schultz Memorial Award:
Presented to an individual who has distinguished himself/herself over an extended period of time within a franchised area of the NCABL as a builder, administrator, promoter, or umpire in the game of baseball. This is the highest individual honor bestowed by the North Central Alberta Baseball League. The award, annually supported by the Schultz family, commemorates the life and contributions of a member of the Schultz family who showed exemplary courage in battling a life-ending condition while demonstrating his love of the game of baseball by serving as one of the NCABL's elite core of umpires for many years.

Recipient: Bert & Bob Craig of Morinville, Alberta

The Craig family from Morinville, Alberta, is the recipient of the prestigious Ken Schultz Memorial Award for 2015. Nominated in the category of promoter, Bert Craig is being recognized posthumously along with his son, Bob, who currently resides in Morinville and who continued in the footsteps of his father by generously contributing to the support of a senior baseball franchise in the community of Morinville from 1975 to 1985.

From its inception in 1968 until 1974, the North Central Alberta Baseball League had operated as two divisions with no inter-division play during the regular season. All that changed in 1975 when the League dropped the two division format to create a single division or super league. The fledgling franchise from Morinville recognized that to continue being competitive in the newly created single division, they would need to revamp their organization, attract new and better players, and build a recognizable brand while representing their town in both League and tournament play. The club's leaders knew whom to approach. Upon hearing of their plan to build a strong community based team for the Town of Morinville, Bert Craig quietly and unassumingly began to support the project. The club was revitalized with the assistance and support of one of Morinville's strong baseball promoter's at a time when one's community baseball and hockey team brought honour and recognition to the town.

Management responded to the Craig family's generosity and civic pride by naming the club the Morinville Manufacturers, a name that would stick until 1980 when the club, still under the sponsorship of the Craig family, would change its name to the Morinville Merchants. That name would remain until the end of more than a decade of direct Craig family support which spelled the end of an equally illustrious period of time during which the Morinville Manufacturers and Merchants proudly represented the Town of Morinville with a team that won far more than it lost.

Bert and Bob Craig were true baseball fans. They believed that any level of participation in sports would only promote a healthy lifestyle and stronger family bonds. That is one reason why Bert would gather his family and set out for the Alexander Reserve where the colourful antics of the Alexander Braves baseball club delighted young and old. Also important to mention that the delicious corn on the cob dipped in hot butter was pretty attractive too!

! Bert and Bob Craig have built a successful and thriving manufacturing business which has always focused on innovation and vision. Their contributions to community have always been generous and provided without fanfare. From baseball fencing, to backstops, to dugouts, the Craig family has had and continues to have some involvement in the great game of summer. For their years of contribution to the promotion of the sport of baseball in the Town of Morinville, the NCABL is proud to present Mr. Bob Craig with the Ken Schultz Memorial Award for 2015.


Addendum:
The N.C. A. B.L. wishes to acknowledge the countless hours contributed by Mrs. Elaine Craig to the Morinville Minor Baseball Association in her role as a member of the founding executive of that organization.


Award Ceremony held on August 30th, 2015
At Harry Andreassen Field in Camrose



Presentation of the MVP in the League Championship:

Recipient: Chris Brand of the Westlock Red Lions

Chris Brand continued his fine display of offensive and defensive talents where he had left off at the conclusion of the regular season during which he recorded a .444 batting average en route to a sixth place standing on the NCABL's regular season leader board. The Red Lion outfielder was a steady and reliable presence throughout the Series making all routine catches and occasionally dazzling fans with a highlight reel catch. Although overshadowed offensively by Axemen Ryan Petryshyn's spectacular .647 batting average during the Series, Brand continued with a hot bat throughout both the LCSFS and LCFS posting a .474 batting average which earned him third spot on the post-season leader board. Chris Brand's unblemished performance during the 2015 post-season along with his strong leadership qualities earned him the nod for the Most Valuable Player Award during the 2015 League Championship.


Fall Bi-Annual Features 50th Anniversary Highlights!

Aside from the usual order of business, the buzz at this fall's bi-annual meeting of the Board of Governors was directly focused on the 2017 season when the NCABL will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. In addition to a number of smaller local events which will be taking place across the League in the summer of 17, the NCABL will be focusing on a few featured events. The League is confident that these major events will attract hundreds of baseball alumni to both Barrhead and Westlock. To better prepare for the 2017 All-Star Game, the host club from Barrhead submitted a two year proposal which was approved. Both the 2016 and 2017 All-Star Games have been given afternoon start times to facilitate the staging of many extras which will include tailgating activities with entertainment for the fans and games for the children in 2017. The All-Star Game extravaganza in 2017 will possibly be scheduled later in the season depending upon the success of a trial run in 2016 which will be using an August date. Previously, the annual All-Star Games have all been scheduled on either a Tuesday or Wednesday evening during the third full week of July. The August date will allow the Orioles to tie our event in with Blue Heron Days held annually in Barrhead. Two weeks later on August 18th, the alumni week-end will begin with a parade on Friday morning, a meet and greet titled "The NCABL Story" at the Spirit Centre on Friday evening, three games of LCSFS action on Saturday, a full day exposition for the general public in the Spirit Centre where the Hall of Fame will be set up, adult and children interactive activities planned, and the NCABL story exposed within its numerous press books which will all be on display. A kiosk will be open on both Friday evening for the alumni and their families as well as on Saturday for the general public where 50th anniversary paraphernalia will be up for sale. Draws for many prizes will also be available to be won by all who visit the hall. An alumni Texas scramble is also being planned on that week-end at the Westlock Golf Course. The Celebration 50 Gala at the Westlock Recreation Centre will follow. The organizing committee is planning a capful of surprises at both of their featured events. On Friday evening, five decades of All-Stars will be feted in grand style during the alumni meet and greet. On Saturday night, alumni and friends of the NCABL will be gathering for a fine banquet, an awards presentation, a featured guest speaker from the game of baseball, and finally with a dance featuring a top local band. The LCFS will conclude on Sunday topping off what promises to be a fun-filled and memorable not to be missed event for all of our alumni and friends. In addition, visitors will be treated to a full schedule of rodeo, chuck wagon, and other related activities during Westlock's Annual Agricultural Fair. For all of the highlights from this Fall's Bi-Annual Meeting, simply click here.




Commissioner Riopel had the pleasure of meeting Betty Carveth Dunn while a guest of the Edmonton Athletics during the annual Warriors Athletic Association Banquet and Awards Night. Betty Carveth, a pitcher for the Rockford Peaches and Fort Wayne Daisies of the AAGPBL, played her professional baseball in the mid-1940's. These fine athletes were later featured in a Hollywood movie titled, "A League of Their Own".




NCABL Focused On Addressing Umpire Shortage

The North Central Alberta Baseball League has always provided young and upcoming umpires with great opportunities for personal growth and development. The League has also maintained a strong bond with its core of umpires by retaining programs and policies which have focused on building close ties with its officiating personnel. The NCABL belongs to all who have an attachment to it and NCABL umpires are made to feel that they have contributed and that they therefore have a vested interest in the League's future. Commissioner Riopel has been sounding the alarm for at least two seasons and his sense of urgency in wanting to address a current trend within the province of Alberta has not necessarily convinced many followers. Although the Board of Governors has been placed on high alert that the days of providing reliable and highly qualified umpires on demand may be coming to a sudden end, alarm bells never seem to frighten anyone to action like the real fire does. Waiting for the fire, however, may have a detrimental impact on the game itself and that possibility would be unfortunate in light of all of the League's efforts in building a quality product on the field. The most recent attempt by the League to address the impending shortage of quality umpiring personnel took place recently at the SAMBA Clubhouse. Core umpires Jim Crawford and Alex Becigneul joined Commissioner Riopel in taking part in the League's first Fall Umpire ID Camp & Workshop. A select number of hopefuls were introduced to the NCABL and provided with a day long workshop which focused on specific rule interpretations broken down into twenty minute teaching segments throughout the morning. The afternoon focused on the technical aspects of the game with emphasis on game control strategies, plate work, and the two-man system in general. In addition to providing an educational tool for its umpires, whether they might belong to the core, casual, call-up, or mentorship groupings, the League is hopeful of introducing a greater number of future prospects to what the NCABL has to offer. The ever expanding NCABL is hoping to add as many as three additional umpires to its core within the next two years while many more casual positions await those umpires whose availability is more restricted. Anyone interested in launching a promising career in amateur umpiring should inquire as to the possibilities awaiting them within the NCABL.


Circling the Bases Returns For a Second Season on Monday

Earl Thompson returns to the airwaves next Monday with his first program of the 2015 season. Thompson, who was appointed by the NCABL as the Leagues Director of Audio-Visual Programming, will be airing a new program every Monday during the regular and post-season. The final show will air on Monday, September 7th. A total of nineteen programs have been scheduled this season covering all aspects of the game within the NCABL. Listeners will be hearing from Managers, the Commissioners Office, players, umpires, and even fans as "Circling the Bases" attempts to inform, editorialize, predict, and encourage discussion and debate related to issues arising during the course of the season. Fans are welcome to contact Earl at any time to share their views or commentary. Tune in every Monday and even if you've missed Earl on Monday, every program will be available for your listening pleasure at any time after they've been released. By finding "League" on the NCABL's main page and scrolling down to "Circling the Bases", you'll keep posted on the latest tidbits Earl has managed to find during his travels around the League. Tune in!


NCABL Official Scoring Clinic A Definitive Success

Led by Official Statistician Ryan Petryshyn, the NCABL's 7th annual clinic was well attended and well received by both novice and experienced scorers in attendance. The clinic offered both general sessions of introduction as well as break out sessions for the more experienced scorers who were challenged with complex scenarios involving the calculation of earned runs versus unearned runs among other scoring challenges frequently encountered by our dedicated core of volunteer scorers. Chuck Keller led the sessions for novice scorers by easing them into the often daunting task of scoring a baseball game. Commissioner Riopel was also on hand to thank everyone in attendance, but especially those returnees who have dedicated themselves to becoming even more proficient scorers for the NCABL and the minor baseball associations they represent. A complete listing of accredited official scorers can be found by going to "Contacts" and scrolling down to "Commissioner's Corner". From there look for "Official Scoring Clinic".


Blackhawks Poised to Join Elite Group

The Blackhawks have demonstrated that commitment to player development can and will produce results. Results for the Blackhawks were not quick and furious, but when patience prevails good things happen. Having earned their way into the last two League Championship Final Series, the Blackhawks have gone on to outperform their opponents on their way to clinching two consecutive Championships. Stellar individual performances from a core group of star players combined with unexpected contributions from a steadily improving supporting cast have fashioned strong showings in each of the past two Championships, both won by the Blackhawks. With every new season new challenges arise. For the Blackhawks, 2015 will offer them the prospect of achieving something great, something that only two clubs have ever achieved over 47 years of NCABL baseball. Clinching yet another post-season berth would take them part way, climbing into the Championship Final Series again would take them even closer, but winning it all would mean a three peat. Only two other clubs have ever won three or more consecutive championships. That honour is currently reserved for the Morinville Pioneers who ran a string of four championships (1989 - 1992) only to be followed by the Westlock Red Lions with five championships (1993 - 1997). No club has been able to duplicate this feat since 1997. Will the Blackhawks be the next club to do so? The 2015 season may be one to be remembered.

Blue Willow Tournament Just Days Away

The host Edmonton Blackhawks will be proudly representing a long standing family tradition in the Mah family this coming week-end. Stan Mah, and his father before him, have been city fixtures in the support of amateur baseball for several decades. This week-end, at Telus Field, baseball fans will once again be treated to a great exhibition of amateur baseball from the Blue Willow Club led by Blackhawk Manager Randy Gregg and coached by Duncan Knoll and Derek St. Laurent, formerly with the Edmonton Indians. Competition will be coming from within the North Central Alberta Baseball League (Camrose Axemen and Sturgeon Paladins) as well as from Leagues across central Alberta. Joining the NCABL representation will be the Leduc Milleteers, repeat Powerline League Champions, as well as the Provost Combine Pilots whose last major accomplishment was in winning the Western Canada Senior Championship a few years ago. Heisler Cardinals, Innisfail Indians, and the Rocky Red Dogs will round off this year's hopefuls in what should prove to be a highlight tournament and the last of the regular season sanctioned tournaments in the NCABL. According to the local organizing committee for the Blue Willow Invitational Tournament, players competing in this year;s tournament can look forward to an MVP of the Game Award as well as to a Play of the Game Award following each contest. The NCABL joins Stan Mah in welcoming all amateur baseball fans to Telus Field this week-end. For a complete schedule of games and starting times, please click here.


City of Edmonton Plays A Wait and See Game over Telus Field

The recent announcement by the City of Edmonton that Telus Field would not be targeted for possible demolition in the near future prompted a sigh of relief from the baseball community in general. The official position of the NCABL is that Telus Field has earned the right to stay based on Edmonton's rich baseball history. But we all know that baseball history does not pay the bills; only a viable baseball product on the field can ultimately achieve that goal. In a market dominated by professional sport, Edmonton baseball fans are loathe to support anything but the refined play of professionals who at least have legitimate aspirations of some day donning a major league uniform. At present, the odds of landing such a prize are not too favourable. What remains as an option, at least in the interim, would be the resurgence of a quality independent league with a distinctively Canadian flavour. Properly planned and effectively launched, such a league might be capable of attracting a sustainable following at an affordable cost to would be owners. Amateur and collegiate leagues alone, it is felt, will not totally satisfy the local appetite for an "elite" product. But they certainly can and must do their utmost to fill a void which currently exists and which could conceivably threaten the very existence of our cherished Telus Field. John Ducey would certainly not be pleased to see his vision for Edmonton baseball glory extinguished.


All-Star Game Began 39 Years Ago

The North Central Alberta Baseball League unveiled its first ever All-Star Club thirty-nine years ago as the fledgling league was entering its 10th season of operation. The League entered its very first All-Star Club in the Harvey J. Memorial Tournament that year which was held in Westlock, Alberta, on August 12th & 13th, 1977. The club was represented by players from only seven of its eight franchises which counted in that number the Rochester Lions, Barrhead Broncos, Morinville Manufacturers, Vimy Blues, Bon Accord Tigers, Linaria Flyers, and Legal Pontiacs. Only the home town Red Lions, host of that tournament, and 1977 pennant champions had not contributed to the talent pool of the 77 edition of the All-Star Club. The All-Stars had little trouble defeating the Altario Mets 12-3 in their opening game which meant that they would be slated to meet the home town Red Lions in the semi-final of the straight knock-out affair. The Red Lions had disposed of the Amisk Rampards 9-5 to earn their way into the semi-final. In a classic game which went down to the very last out, the Red Lions prevailed 5 - 4 over the All-Stars. It was, bar none, the best game of the tournament according to the local press, who were obliged to report that the Grand Centre Northlanders had defeated the Red Lions 8 -2 in the final. The Red Lions went on to finish the regular season with a record of 11W, 2L, and 1T which saw them clinch the 1977 NCABL pennant. To view the complete roster for the 2015 edition of the All-Star tilt, click here.




NCABL Releases Voted All-Stars

The North Central Alberta Baseball League released the names by position of those players chosen by way of a vote from among all ten franchises in the League. The ten players will be playing for either the home team Amyotte All-Stars or the visiting team Beverly Optimist All-Stars during the annual All-Star Game hosted by the Cardinals at Legion Park in St. Albert on July 21st. Game time is 7:30 PM. The voted All-Stars include:


Position Player Home Club All-Star Club Ballot
Pitcher Cornelius Friesen Barrhead Orioles Amyotte 40
Catcher Aaron Watamaniuk Westlock Red Lions Beverly Optimist 25
First Base Craig Fagnan Edmonton Indians Beverly Optimist 35
Second Base Blair McGeough Stony Plain Mets Beverly Optimist 35
Third Base Dustin Reschny Edm. Blackhawks Amyotte 20
Shortstop Regan Hoet Edm. Blackhawks Amyotte 20
Outfield Chris Brand Westlock Red Lions Beverly Optimist 45
Outfield Hayden Chies St. Albert Cardinals Beverly Optimist 35
Outfield Kyle Martel Edm. Blackhawks Amyotte 30
Utility Bryan Bartman Sturgeon Paladins Amyotte 30


The Amyotte All-Stars will be managed by Bryan Toles of the Camrose Axemen. Coaches for the Amyotte All-Star club will be drawn from the staffs of the Axemen, Blackhawks, Edmonton Athletics, Sturgeon Paladins, and Barrhead Orioles. The Beverly Optimist All-Stars will be managed by Adam Sawatzky of the Westlock Red Lions. Coaches for the Beverly Optimist All-Star club will be drawn from the staffs of the Red Lions, Mets, Indians, Sherwood Park Athletics, and St. Albert Cardinals.



Cardinals to Host First Ever All-Star Game

The North Central Alberta Baseball League will be featuring its top players during the 2015 All-Star Game which is being held on Tuesday, July 21st, beginning at 7:30 PM at Legion Field in St. Albert. The Cardinals will be hosting their first All-Star Game since joining the League in 2013. This season, the home club sponsor will be Amyotte's Awards and Promotions owned and operated by Richard and Nicole Moreau of St. Albert. Amyotte's All-Stars will be comprised of fifteen players, both voted and selected, from the Camrose Axemen, Edmonton Blackhawks, Edmonton Athletics, Sturgeon Paladins, and Barrhead Orioles. Repeat sponsors of the visiting club will be the Beverly Optimist Club of Edmonton. Player representation for the Beverly Optimist All-Stars will be coming from the Westlock Red Lions, Stony Plain Mets, Edmonton Indians, Sherwood Park Athletics, and St. Albert Cardinals. Admission to the game is only $3. Children ten and under will be admitted free of charge. Many fan appreciation prizes can be won with the price of admission. Concessions will be available on site. Come join us for a relaxing game of baseball under the lights.


Axemen Prevail Over the Blue Willow Angels In A Nail Biter!

The fourth and final League Sanctioned Tournament of the 2015 NCABL season provided a little of everything for baseball fans. From fine pitching performances, to spectacular outfield catches, to slick infield plays, to a solid display of power and clutch hits, this year's Blue Willow Invitational Tournament probably surpassed previous editions on the strength of its entries and many notable individual performances. Even the early evening downpour at Telus Field did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Blue Willow field crew led by their skipper Randy Gregg and coaches Duncan Knoll and Derek St. Laurent who worked feverishly to remove the surface water from the field and to bring it back to an acceptable playing condition. Click here for a glimpse of the field both before and after the downpour.

After both Provost and Heisler opted to allow their opponents to advance to the semi-finals despite having earned victories over the Sturgeon Paladins (6-3) and the Innisfail Indians (6-4) respectively, the stage was set for Sunday's action. Also advancing into the semi-finals were the Blue Willow Angels who defeated the Leduc Milleteers 7-3 on Friday night along with the League leading Camrose Axemen who downed the Rocky Red Dogs 13 - 7 on Saturday.

The Blue Willow Angels, behind an effective pitching performance from Jamie Gregg, defeated the ever improving Sturgeon Paladins 12 -4 in the first of two semi-final games on Sunday. Jon Agliani took the loss for the Paladins. Blue Willow amassed 19 hits while Gregg allowed only 4 which earned him a nod for the Angel's MVP of the game.Offensive honours for the Angels went to Regan Hoyt who was 3 for 5 with 1 RBI and 3 runs scored.

The Camrose Axemen blanked the Innisfail Indians 3-0 in the second semi-final game behind a solid outing from Dylan Borman who went the distance (five completed innings due to a time ruling). Borman allowed four hits, struck out 6 batters, and needed only occasional help from a solid defensive effort from the Axemen. Jesse Scheunert, pitched well in a losing effort despite allowing 5 hits and recording but one strike out. Both pitchers earned MVP of the game selections for their respective clubs. Blair Mulder led the Axemen attack going 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.

The final game of the Blue Willow Invitational Tournament was both intense and unpredictable. Two and one half weeks had passed since these two clubs had last met. The Axemen had held on to a narrow 3 - 0 victory on home turf. Kyle Lawrence was back on the bump for the Angels, while Blair Mulder would again be sent by Manager Jordan Riopel to face the strong Angel hitting line-up. The stage was set for a second pitching dual. Mulder allowed a single hit in the first while Lawrence retired the side in order. Mulder again allowed one single off Kyle Martel's bat to drop into the outfield but finished off the inning with his second strike out of the game. Lawrence faced four batters in the second allowing but a single to Petryshyn. Mulder again faced four batters in the third isolating a Ryan Gregg single. Lawrence dropped three Axemen in order to end the third inning in a still scoreless game. Mulder returned the favour in the top of the fourth which set the stage for the only earned run of the game. Mulder himself led off with a single, but after Borman had filed out to right field, Guntrip blasted a double scoring Mulder before the side was retired. Mulder again returned to retire the Angels in order. In the bottom of the fifth after a Landriault single, the Angels snuffed out any further threat by turning a crisp double play which ended the inning.

The sixth inning brought sudden and unpredictable change to a game that had unfolded with precise execution by both sides for five innings. Kosh led the inning with a stand-up double. Ewanishan walked. Hayden grounded out. And the gates opened for the Angels as Jamie Gregg's ground ball skirted through the legs of Guntrip at first scoring Kosh. In a frantic effort to throw the batter-runner out at first, Petryshyn overthrew first allowing Ewanishan to score on the second error. Muzechka, who had replaced Mulder, finished the top of the sixth with a strike-out but the damage was done. Lawrence delivered with deadly accuracy in the sixth, retiring the top of the Axemen batsmen in order. Muzechka, not to be outmatched, did the same in the top of the seventh. With the score now 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Lawrence recorded a strike-out against Guntrip. Petryshyn responded with a single. Wheatly reached first on an error to Ryan Gregg which sent Petryshyn to third. In an attempt to steal second, Wheatly was stranded in no man's land with catcher Ewanishan bearing down on him. An errant throw gifted Wheatly to second scoring Petryshyn to tie the game. Zimmer out for the second out of the inning. With both dugouts standing and the tension throughout Telus Field showing in every partisan's face, Landriault delivers the biggest single of his season scoring the speedy Wheatly from second. Midnight tolls at Telus. The game is won. The tournament is over. Only the formalities remain. And the memories forged from the total unpredictability of the game we know and love.




Deadline Nears for College Bound Players to Apply for Educational Grant

Collegiate players who choose to play in the NCABL can apply for an annual grant offered by the League through the generous support of Servus Credit Union. With the number of young players on the rise within the League and the cost of education mushrooming, a little financial support is always welcome. The application process is simple and players need not demonstrate exceptional academic achievements to be chosen for this award. To qualify, a player must be successfully registered and accepted into a full time program at a post-secondary institution anywhere in North America in the academic year following a complete season of play for an NCABL franchised club. For further details on the application process and deadline, go to "Contacts" on the main page and scroll down to the Commissioner's Corner. Find the article titled, "The North Central Alberta Baseball League Partners With Servus" and read about another great opportunity offered young players in this League.


Finalists Declared Following Pitched Battles

Semi-Finals Series A:
Westlock Red Lions 1 Edmonton Blackhawks 0
Edmonton Blackhawks 5 Westlock Red Lions 0
Westlock Red Lions 9 Edmonton Blackhawks 7


Westlock Red Lions advance to the League Championship Final Series
Semi-Finals Series B:
Camrose Axemen 2 Stony Plain Mets 0
Camrose Axemen 7 Stony Plain Mets 1


Camrose Axemen advance to the League Championship Final Series
Blackhawks Clinch Second Consecutive Pennant

In a season which saw every club improve its on field performances, the race for the pennant and most especially for a post-season berth was one of the most exciting in recent years. In the end, though, the Blackhawks prevailed to capture their second consecutive pennant. To do so, they had to scramble from a multiple run deficit against the Axemen late in the season to record a narrow 6-5 victory. A week later, the Edmonton Athletics faced elimination from the post-season. Only a victory against the Blackhawks could have kept their hopes alive. The Blackhawks were again solid in an 8-0 victory over the Athletics. In the games that mattered, the Blackhawks found a way to win. Even the improved Paladins took a beating in their final game of the season against the Blackhawks, bowing to the eventual pennant champions by a score of 10 - 1. But despite their impressive finish, the Blackhawks had the Axemen breathing down their backs the entire season. The two clubs each won at home against one another, with the Axemen holding onto the better runs against average. As for the rest of the field, both the Mets who finished third and the Red Lions who squeezed into the fourth and final post-seson berth were challenged during the late season stretch by the Edmonton Athletics and the Indians. The Indians were the first to be eliminated from the race for a top four finish, but the Edmonton Athletics persisted until the very end of the regular season before bowing out. That will leave four post-season finalists who are very familiar with the League Championship Semi-Final Series. The Blackhawks will be meeting the Red Lions. Each club has won one regular season contest this year.Their play-off history, though, would favour the Blackhawks. They last met in the 2013 LCFS. That series went the full three games with the Blackhawks emerging as the victors. But in the 2012 LCSFS, the Red Lions upset the second place Blackhawks by taking them in straight games (3-1) and (7-3). The 2011 LCSFS saw the Blackhawks prevail in a very closely fought three game series. If recent history can tell us anything about post-season baseball, this series should prove to be a good one. Series A begins on Saturday, August 22, at 11:00 AM with the second game scheduled for 5:00 PM that same day. Should this series require a third game, it will be played on Sunday, August 23, at 11:00 AM.


Host Site for LCFS In Limbo

The Camrose Axemen swept the Stony Plain Mets this past week-end in their semi-final series held in Westlock, however they now find themselves without a diamond on which to battle the Red Lions for the North Central Alberta Baseball League Championship. According to unofficial reports from club representatives, the dual purpose field which the Axemen call home for the entire season of play has apparently gone to football. Despite a strong regular season showing which saw the Axemen come within a single game of clinching their third pennant since 2015 and despite a growing fan base within the City of Camrose, the Axemen face the prospect of having to play away from home.! Last minute efforts are currently being undertaken by club management in an effort to secure a site which would enable their fans to attend a Championship Final Series which could see their club win its first ever crown. Disappointment would not describe the feelings of club management on this day. League Office will be announcing the location of the upcoming final series within the next two days.




NCABL Honours Top Manager, MVP, and Junior Player

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon preceding game 1 of Semi-Final Series B between the Axemen and Mets, Commissioner Riopel released the winners of three major League awards. Bryan Toles of the Camrose Axemen was named Manager of the Year, Regan Hoet of the Edmonton Blackhawks was named Most Valuable Player of the Year, and Dylan Borman of the Axemen was chosen as the most promising junior player for 2015. Go to the "Commissioner's Corner under Contacts on the main page" for the complete award resume including the top picks for Manager of the Year and Junior Player of the Year and the top ten most valuable players for 2015. Or if you prefer, click here.


Axemen Hungry for Championship Series Victory

The 2015 North Central Alberta Baseball League Championship Series will be a repeat of the match-up in 2012, when the Red Lions last faced the Axemen for all of the marbles. This time around, however, the Axemen will be wishing for a far different result. In 2012, the Axemen edged the Red Lions 5-4 in game 1 at Harry Andreassen Park only to drop the second game by a score of 3 - 0 thus forcing a third and deciding game. In that game, the Lions roared mightily by crushing the Axemen 14 - 6. This season, the Axemen are on a mission to change the end result by capturing their first NCABL Championship after having been denied in 2012 and in 2014. The two clubs match up well and both have solid pitching staffs. Veteran Adam Sawatzky (3.38 ERA), fresh from two semi-final appearances, will definitely be counted on again to silence the Axemen bats. In support, Kris Johnson (2.12 ERA), will also have to turn up for the next series. Beaudoin, Burlet, and Webber may also be used as needed. The Axemen will respond with MVP of the Year runner-up Blair Mulder and sophomore Dylan Borman, also a top ten MVP of the Year finalist who turned in a spectacular performance on the hill (2.04 ERA) this season by striking out almost a third of the batters he faced. The Axemen have a trove of pitching talent in support with Martz, Majeski, Ofrim, and Pasychnyk in the wings not to mention the ever reliable Muzechka whose talents at closing games for the Axemen is without question. Defensively, both clubs have a solid outfield presence, but the Red Lion outfield brought out their A game in their semi-final series against the Blackhawks with highlight reel catches from Nathan Brown and Chris Brand. The Axemen will reply with veteran outfielders with strong arms in the likes of Mulder, Johnson, Riopel, and Zimmer. Both clubs have the ability and speed to turn the double play. With Brendan Watamaniuk and Jordan Brand up the middle for the Red Lions and Chance Wheatley and Ryan Petryshyn for the Axemen, both clubs have a combination of veteran savvy and youthful skill. Whichever club manufactures those timely hits in a close series often walks away with the prize. For the Axemen, their most productive batsmen this year have been Mulder and Petryshyn with Borman and Guntrip surging in the latter part of the season. The Red Lions have answered the bell all season long with the end of their bats. Led by Ryan Teske, Chris Brand, Brendan Watamaniuk, and Nathan Brown, all of whom finished with batting averages above 400, the Red Lions have the offence to make them roar. As is often the case in a big series such as this one,however, one unidentified player can often rise from the ashes of obscurity to become the hero of the day. Whether or not that will be the case in the 2015 LCS or not will have to wait until the week-end.


City of Camrose Accommodates LCFS

The Axemen faced the unenviable possibility of having to play the League Championship Series away from the familiar confines of Harry Andreassen Park. That is, until a last minute arrangement was worked out with city officials who did their utmost to keep the Series in Camrose where it belonged. The Axemen swept the Mets over the week-end at Keller Field in Westlock to earn the right to host after the pennant champion Blackhawks were dropped by the Red Lions in Series A by the closest of margins. The accommodation will mean that the baseball championship will still be played on the usual dates of Saturday and Sunday, August 29th and 30th, but the times for Saturday's scheduled games have been changed to allow for a football game to be played on Saturday night. The League Championship Series will begin with a game on Saturday at 11:00 AM to be followed by a second game at 2:00 PM that same day. Should a third and deciding game be necessary, it would start in the usual time slot of 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon. For a re-cap of dates and times along with the cost of admission, please click here.


Chris Brand of the Red Lions named LCS Most Valuable Player

For a complete story on the exploits which earned Brand the prestigious MVP Award for outstanding play during the League Championship, please click here.


Chris Brand put in a stellar performance in the outfield throughout the Championship Series to earn MVP honours.



Red Lions Pounce on Opportunities to Eliminate Axemen

A large crowd returned to Harry Andreassen Field on Sunday to witness what they hoped would be an Axemen victory and a first ever championship crown. But the Red Lions did not read that same script. Despite a gutsy effort from Mulder who returned to the mound for the second time in two days for the Axemen, costly errors and mental lapses by the young guns on the Axemen club killed any chance the club had of making a final comeback attempt late in the game. With the Red Lions leading 4-3, the floodgates opened in the sixth and when the dust had settled the Red Lions held a 10 -3 lead which they were not about to relinquish. Although the Axemen managed to bring in a few more runs on Red Lion misplays, the story line had been written. The Axemen would drop the Championship Series in three to a pesky come from behind club for the second time in four years. The Axemen have appeared in three of the past four League Championship Final Series and will have to wait at least one more season for another try. Burlett earned the game 3 victory for the Red Lions who defeated the Axemen 10-5.


The Red Lions are all smiles as they celebrate the 17th championship of their illustrious tenure within the NCABL.



LCFS Going Three

Under a hazy blue sky and a very warm Saturday afternoon sun, the Axemen and Red Lions squared off at Harry Andreassen Field. The large crowd in attendance roared their approval as the Axemen defeated the Red Lions in game 1 by a score of 5-1 behind the pitching of Blair Mulder who recorded his second complete game victory of the post-season. Kris Johnson took the loss for the Red Lions. The turning point in the game came as a result of a three RBI double by Petryshyn of the Axemen late in the contest which positioned the Axemen for that victory. The never say die Red Lions replied in game 2 of the Series by edging the Axemen 6-5. With the game tied at 4 in the latter innings, a costly error at first base allowed the Red Lions to take the lead. With the Red Lions leading by two runs, the Axemen did respond in the sixth with a single run, however a costly base running decision at second for a second critical out cooled any further comeback. Adam Sawatzky recorded the win for the Red Lions, his second of the Series to go along with a save. Cory Martz was tagged with the loss. For the complete post-season results for 2015 click here.

2014

Sizzling Summer Temperatures Heat Up Pennant Race

There hasn't been a day of regular season play that passes lately in the NCABL without noticeable movement in the standings. As the hot summer sun brings on the best on the field, clubs are fiercely competing and jostling for favourable positions from which to launch a final assault on a post season berth. Now firmly atop the pennant ladder, the Mets solidified their position last Monday by pounding their way to a 9-4 victory over the hometown Red Lions at Keller Field behind the strong pitching of Mike Cote. That victory left the Red Lions in a three way tie with the Blackhawks and Axemen, all at 6-3. The Blackhawks changed that again on Tuesday night with a solid outing (11-1) against the Cardinals, avenging their loss of a week ago. Crouched behind these leaders and ready to pounce are the Sherwood Park Athleitcs and surprising Barrhead Orioles. Other clubs lower in the standings are not without their own arsenals of talent. Consider the surging Cardinals as a possible threat on any given night. Or the Edmonton Athletics who on Monday night dropped a game to Sherwood Park in three extra innings. One thing is apparent, high heat has brought on high intensity on the fields across the League. And the baseball has been fun to watch' Just ask the 250 odd fans who attended last Monday night's game at Keller Field

 


League Releases Comprehensive Package of Statistics

Ryan Gregg quickly emerged as a force to be reconed with as the Blackhawk infielder posted a mighty .700 batting average on the League's first release of its top twenty batters. Gregg has demonstrated a steady progression in his game over the past several seasons and is now hitting for power and driving in valuable runs in critical game situations. The Camrose Axemen, meanwhile, placed the most batters (4) among the top twenty hitters followed by the Mets, who lead in the pennant race, with three. Of the pitchers who have logged seven or more innings thus far, Cory Martz of the Axemen, leads the way in the win column with one to go along with his 0.00 ERA. Kyle Lawrence of the Blackhawks has an equally impressive ERA also at 0.00 to go along with his two saves and 16 strikeouts so far on the young season. Complete team by team statistics are now available by scrolling down "Statistics" to the club of your choice.




Phillies Sign Former NCABL Alumni

Lars Davis, 28, an NCABL alumni formerly with the Barrhead Yankees organization has recently signed with the Phillies organization after being released by the Diamondbacks. Davis collected a total of 333 plate appearances for triple A Colorado Springs while registering batting averages of .255, .313, and .356 respectively. Lars was named the 2002 Most Promising Junior Player in the NCABL while still under 18 years of age.

 

Paladins Lose Valuable Player to Injury

The Sturgeon Paladins lost a valuable member of their club during the second game of their DH last week. It was reported that Justin Turner (BA .286) broke his leg late in the second game following a hard slide into third base. The hard nosed utility player will be missed according to Manager James Turnbull. Turner is not expected back for any part of the 2014 regular season. The league wishes him a speedy recovery.

 


Three of Four Sanctioned Tournaments Completed Without a Hitch

The Rainmaker Invitational Tournament was the most ambitious tournament effort of the young season thus far. With eleven scheduled games, all completed over three days, the second year St. Albert Cardinals were not only able to record their first victories of the season but also lay claim to hosting a fine tournament on their beautifully manicured field. The Harvey J. Doherty Tournament which holds the current title of longest running sanctioned tournament in the NCABL did not fare as well this season with only three clubs registering to do battle. Although a single day of baseball was salvaged, the tournament hopes to return to its traditionally stronger base of clubs next season. More recently, the quiet community of Waskatenau, Alberta, continues to host what has become a very popular annual tournament. The Starchuk-Semeniuk Memorial Tournament held its traditional six-team and nine game week-end tournament in the confines of Pine Creek Park to the delight of locals who look forward to this annual sporting event. The tournament champions in date order were the Edmonton Athletics, Cold Lake Cardinals and Edmonton Blackhawks respectively. One sanctioned tournament remains to be played. The Blue Willow Invitational will be played on July 18 thru 20th and hosted by the Blackhawks.

 

All-Star Balloting Just Around the Corner

Management from across the League will soon be pouring over their notes and the statistics provided by League Office to vote for the top ten players in the NCABL for 2014. A third instalment of official statistics will be posted in just a few days to provide a most effective means of making the very best decisions possible on the website ballot. The NCABL honours its voted All-Stars in a special way prior to the selection process taking over to effectively top up each club to a maximum of fifteen players. This year's All-Star Game is being hosted by the Axemen in Camrose, Alberta, on Tuesday, July 22. Game time is 7:45 PM.

 



Final Sanctioned Tournament

The Blue Willow Invitational Tournament will officially close the season on sanctioned tournaments in the NCABL for 2014. Now down to four pack of tournaments, the Blue Willow represents a unique opportunity to play on a professional surface at Telus Field in Edmonton. In its second year at this venue, the Blackhawks have attracted an impressive field of touring clubs which include the hosts of the 2013 Western Canada Senior AA Championships, the Provost Combine Pilots, the Heisler Cardinals, the Oyen Eagles, and the Rocky Red Dogs. Club teams from the NCABL entered into this tournament include the League leading Edmonton Blackhawks, the Shwerwood Park Athletics, the Stony Plain Mets, and the Sturgeon Paladins. For the complete draw, go to tournaments and scroll down to Blue Willow Invitational.

 

Camrose Hosts first Ever NCABL All-Star Game

Next Tuesday, July 22nd, the North Central Alberta Baseball League will be putting its best talent on display during the annual All-Star Game. This year's game is being hosted by the Axemen at Harry Andreassen Park in Camrose. Admission is only $3 and children under 10 years of age are admitted free of charge. On Sunday, League Commissioner Paul Riopel released the complete rosters for both the Artslinger and Beverly Optimist All-Star Clubs representing all eleven franchises currently playing in the NCABL. The game will be a seven inning contest played under the lights. The first pitch will be thrown at 7:45 PM. To view the complete club rosters, go to League and scroll down to All-Star Club 2014.

 

NCABL Releases Names of Voted All-Stars

The NCABL All-Star Game will be hosted by the Camrose Axemen at Harry Andreassen Park in Camrose on Tuesday, July 22nd. The first pitch will be thrown at 7:45 PM. The annual game will feature ten players voted as the very best at their positions this season. To that number will be added top selections from all clubs across the League to a roster maximum of fifteen players on each All-Star squad. The hosts will be placing two players on the prestigious "voted list" as well as the Edmonton Blackhawks who currently lead the pennant race. Pitcher Cory Martz and outfielder Jordan Riopel from the Axemen will be joined by catcher Sam Ewanishan and second baseman Ryan Gregg from the Blackhawks. The second year St. Albert Cardinals also had two players "voted" to positions. Matt Biollo will be playing first base while Hayden Chies will be patrolling the outfield. Joining Chies in the outfield will be Nathan Brown from the Red Lions. Third base will be occupied by Allan Lyster of the Mets while first time All-Star Alex McGregor will represent the Paladins at shortstop. Andrew Grafton of the Indians took the utility position as the tenth player voted to the 2014 NCABL All-Star Club. For complete results please find League and scroll down to 2014 All-Star Club.

 

NCABL Partners with Pow Wow Days

We all know that the fish derby is synonymous with Pow Wow Days in Lac la Biche, Alberta. But would anyone have guessed that baseball in Lac la Biche dates back 100 years to Alberta's very early years of settlement? Duane Young and Omar McGrabi, although not quite senior enough to have witnessed the early years, have nevertheless been involved in the promotion of the game in that region for many years. This year marks a very special milestone in baseball's history in that community, the 100th year of organized baseball. With that in mind, both Duane and Omar have set a goal for themselves in 2014. Each has promised, for this year at least, a return to Lac la Biche of good quality and competitive baseball as was seen some twenty years ago when visiting clubs from California and Washington State along with Saskatchewan clubs loaded with good quality US born players were constant fixtures during Pow Wow Days. To ensure the return of the game to its former glory in Lac La Biche, the Pow Wow Days Association has approached the NCABL to assist them in coordinating a six-team premier division who would compete for a healthy purse during the three day event which will run from August 2nd thru August 4th. The NCABL will be entering four of the six clubs in this tournament, while outside participation will either come from the Sunburst League or other Senior AA Leagues in the province. All inquiries from either inside or outside the League can be directed to Commissioner Riopel of the NCABL who is currently promoting this event.

 

Heated races produce new alignments for 2014 All-Star Game

The NCABL wishes to welcome a new All-Star Game Sponsor, the Artslinger Company, creators of graphic design, photography, and websites in the Edmonton area. The Artslinger All-Stars will be the home club in this year's tilt which will be drawing players from the Blackhawks, Axemen, Sherwood Park Athletics, Indians, Edmonton Athletics and Paladins. Randy Gregg of the Edmonton Blackhawks will be the Manager of the home club. Returning as an All-Star game sponsor for another two seasons, the League wishes to recognize and thank the Beverly Optimist Club from Edmonton. The Beverly Optimist All-Stars will be the visiting club and will be drawing players from the Red Lions, Mets, Orioles, Cardinals, and Warriors. The Manager of the visiting club will be Adam Sawatzky of the Westlock Red Lions who also garnered the second highest ballot count among pitchers in the League. The NCABL has adopted an in-house format for its annual All-Star game which pits players from all clubs with uneven ranking numbers agaist those players from clubs with even ranking numbers as of July 10th. The annual All-Star Game is always fun for the whole family. Minor baseball players in attendance can chase down foul balls for a 50 cent return, while all fans in attendance will be eligible for several draws throughout the game. Earl Thompson, the recently appointed director of audio-visual programming will be on public address. Take in the action at Harry Andreassen Park and join us in the media tent after the game for refreshments.

 

Blue Willow Angels Sweep Home Tournament

When the Oyen Eagles failed to show for the 3rd annual Blue Willow Invitational Tournament at Telus Field, Manager Randy Gregg was faced with having to make a quick decision so as to leave the draw intact. His decision to insert the newly formed Blue Willow Angels, an elite touring team with the NCABL, proved to be an insightful one as the club swept their opponents in three straight games to capture the tournament victory. The Blackhawk players, many of whom also played on the Angel's squad, also proved to the entire field that they were a team to contend with as they blasted the Provost Combine Pilots 13-0 in their opening game and demolished the Heisler Cardinals in much the same fashion (12-0) in the semi-final before bowing to the Angels (5-4) in the tournament final. Complete tournament results can be found under "Tournaments" by scrolling down to "Blue Willow Invitational"..

 







League Governors Stay the Course

Baseball rules seldom change and if they do the changes are subtle in a purposeful attempt not to tamper with the greatest of summer sporting traditions. There is certainly something to be said about playing a game that is securely entrenched not only in the folklore of a nation, in its parlance, but also in the psyche of those men who breathe the game. The Governors of the NCABL largely belong to this group and share the same philosophy, which is why the League has been nurtured and led in a thoughtful, rational, and decidedly cautious manner over the past 47 years. The Fall-Bi-Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors reflected this approach when dealing with all business items. For a glimpse at the highlights from the Fall Bi-Annual Policy Meeting go to Contacts on the main page and scroll down to "Commissioner's Corner".






Official Scoring Clinics Have Produced for the NCABL

Everyone knows that a well trained scorer in baseball circles is as precious a commodity when it comes to the production of accurate statistics as are the chances of recording a victory behind the effective pitching of your ace and strong relief work from the bullpen. The NCABL has been in the business of training official scorers for many years and the resulting effort of a more highly trained staff of official scorers has impacted the quality of statistical production over the course of time. For this improvement to continue, refresher courses are encouraged. According to Ryan Petryshyn, the Official Statistician for the League, official scorers should plan on attending a clinic at least every other year. Attending such a clinic is made easy in the NCABL with all costs of the single day event being covered by the League. The League includes lunch, snacks, and all materials free of charge to all scorers who work for the NCABL. Any local baseball association may send any number of participants to the annual scoring clinic for the nominal fee of $30 per participant. According to Commissioner Riopel, this is but one way that the NCABL contributes to the overall development of baseball in north central Alberta. Participants must pre-register with League Office by April 16th. Simply phone the Office (780-458-6800) or E-mail "Commissioner @ncabl.ab.ca" leaving your full name, telephone number, and your E-mail address. Confirmations with detailed instructions will be issued on the very next day via E-mail. The clinic is being held on Saturday, April 18th, at the Bessie Nichols School from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.



At Wally Footz Field in Edmonton, Alberta

Presentation of the NCABL Education Grant: Sponsored by Servus Credit Union
Presented to a qualified player within the League who is registered in a post-secondary institution as a full time student for the 2014-15 academic year.
Recipient: Chance Wheatley of the Camrose Axemen

Chance Wheatley is another example of the type of character player that the Camrose Axemen have recently recruited in an effort to build a franchise with a future. Chance, who began his minor league playing career in Heisler, Alberta, and who pursued his representative baseball in Spruce Grove and in St. Albert with the Whitesox and Cardinals respectively, has already established himself within the NCABL as a future player to watch. In his rookie season with the Axemen, Chance registered a 0.300 batting average on 75 plate appearances while logging valuable innings at shortstop where he demonstrated good range while committing seven errors on the season. Chance will be attending Lethbridge College in 2014-15 where he hopes to obtain a general business degree followed by a possible career in baseball administration. The North Central Alberta Baseball League with the cooperation of Servus Credit Union is proud to present Chance with the 2014 NCABL Education Grant. Commissioner Riopel and the entire Board of Governors wish Chance all the success required in reaching his goals.


Presentation of the Ken Schultz Memorial Award:
Presented to an individual who has distinguished himself/herself over an extended period of time within a franchised area of the NCABL as a builder, administrator, promoter, or umpire in the game of baseball. This is the highest individual honor bestowed by the North Central Alberta Baseball League. The award, annually supported by the Schultz family, commemorates the life and contributions of a member of the Schultz family who showed exemplary courage in battling a life-ending condition while demonstrating his love of the game of baseball by serving as one of the NCABL's elite core of umpires for many years.

Recipient: Gord Montgomery of Spruce Grove, Alberta




Gord Montgomery is the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Ken Schultz Memorial Award. Nominated in the category of promoter, Mr. Montgomery has been a fixture of minor baseball in the Parkland area for over thirty years. A product of southern Saskatchewan where he played competitive baseball in his youth, Gord moved to the Parkland area where he began his coaching career at the Midget level before helping to coach the Westlock Legionnaires in 1988, then an NCABL franchise at the Bison level. The Legionnaires went on to win a Provincial and Western Canada Championship in that year. But it was in his role as a career reporter that Gord will be fondly remembered and where his footprint on baseball will be most evident. Gord's passion for the game of baseball and special interest in the North Central Alberta Baseball League saw him produce insightful and intelligent articles while covering the sports scene for the Spruce Grove Examiner and Stony Plain Reporter. Gord took a special interest in covering the Parkland Whitesox when they were members of the NCABL and the Stony Plain Mets receive the same professional coverage today. Gord has always promoted the growth of baseball by and through his numerous articles showcasing local baseball talent. Gord's love of the game has kept baseball front and centre during the summer season in the local media. For his dedication to the game over decades of excellent reporting, the NCABL wishes to present the Ken Schultz Memorial Award to Gordon Montgomery of Spruce Grove, Alberta. Here to present the award is Mr. Tim Schultz, sponsor of the award.




League Championship Final Series (LCFS) Set For Footz Field

With the two top seeds in regular season play emerging victoriously from the LCSFS last week in Westlock, the stage is set for the battle between the Axemen and the pennant and defending League Champion Blackhawks to begin. This Saturday, at Footz Field, these two clubs will square off in a best of three final series for the Championship crown. Neither club has met the other in a post season series, however the Blackhawks swept the regular season series with the Axemen by decisive margins. Nonetheless this should be an interesting series with many variables at play. The Blackhawks boast one of the best one-two pitching duos in the NCABL, while Camrose has an experienced but less dominant staff. Both clubs have depth at this position and can call upon strong support from their bullpens. The Blackhawks have gone with a more fixed line-up than have the Axemen who have rotated more players into the starting line-up throughout the post-season. Led by red hot Ryan Gregg, the Blackhawks can put up numbers despite the fact that the Mets were quite successful in limiting most of the Blackhawk offensive leaders to lower than normal averages. The Axemen, on the other hand, have a strong hitting line-up with a combination of power and speed which will test the Blackhawk pitching staff. As for the defensive units on both squads, they match up quite evenly up the middle. With Hoet in an infield position, the Blackhawks may have a slight edge; but with Hoet on the mound, the Axemen are sure handed enough to hold their own in the infield. Depending on who is selected to play the outfield for the Axemen, the edge could again play in the Blackhawk's favour; that said Manager Toles could decide to go with a proven and experienced outfield which can match any the Blackhawks can produce. For more coverage on the upcoming LCFS, tune in to Earl Thompson's piece on "Circling the Bases" found by scrolling down from "League".

Blackhawks (17-3) versus Axemen (15-5) on Saturday and Sunday

Blackhawks versus Axemen. The League Championship Series, a best of three affair, begins on Saturday at Footz Field with games at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm respectively. The Series will continue on Sunday, if necessary, with a game at 2:00 pm. The second of a two-part award ceremony will unfold just prior to game two of the Series on Saturday. All games are scheduled for seven innings. Admission on Saturday is only $5 with children 10 years and under admitted free of charge. Sunday's admission charge will be $3. All are welcome to take in some of the best amateur baseball in Edmonton and area during the League Championship Series.

Sherwood Park's Hopes for Post-Season Dashed by Mother Nature

Despite a strong late season charge by the Sherwood Park Athletics, the Mets were able to secure the fourth and final post-season berth in the upcoming LCSFS to be held in Westlock on August 16th and 17th. The Mets, who led in the pennant race for over half of the regular season, saw their hopes evaporating in the second half as they fell from first to fourth and almost into fifth. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Athletics edged the Mets in their yard by a score of 1-0 in a classic and well pitched contest. This victory gave Sherwood Park another life. But the path to success would not be an easy one as they were slated to play the pennant champion Edmonton Blackhawks in the final week of the regular season. A victory against the Blackhawks and the Athletics would topple the Mets. Again, the Athletics took on the challenge with renewed vigour. Down 3-0 to the Blackhawks after five complete innings of play, the Athletics managed to rally against the effective pitching of Matt Kukovica. Sherwood Park scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning. The rally, unfortunately, would be short lived as mother nature unleashed her fury providing ample lightning and enough rain to halt the game. After a rain delay, conditions were unrelenting and the darkened field provided more gloom than could be described as the game was called reverting to a 3-0 score. The young Athletics had scored two, placed a runner on first and with only one out in the sixth felt a glimmer of hope that was just as quickly extinguished by an unfortunate intervention by mother nature. The Athletics' season was over. They needed a victory on this night, nothing less. But despite the defeat, Sherwood Park demonstrated that they were more than willing to do battle and to stay the course to the very end. With that resolve, they will return even stronger next season.

Blackhawks Prevail Over the Camrose Axemen

The Blackhawks provided the Axemen with a daunting task during the 2014 League Championship Final Series. First of all, the Axemen were faced with having to score runs against the stingiest defence in the NCABL; secondly, they had to score these runs while facing a solid pitching duo in the persons of Regan Hoet and Matt Kukovica. Although the Axemen had their chances to do some damage in the series, especially in the second game, a lack of timely hitting left them without the runs they so desperately needed to make a difference and possibly force a third and deciding game in the series. The Blackhawks took game one by a score of 5-1 on 5 hits while committing only one error and leaving 5 runners stranded in the process; the Axemen struck for four hits, stranding 7 runners on base while also committing only one error. The well played game was scoreless going into the sixth inning when the Blackhawks exploded scoring all five runs on a combination of hits by Lawrence, Stork, and Jennings with the assistance of an unfortunate Axemen error and timely RBI's from Gregg, Reschny, and Jennings with three. Hoet was the winning pitcher going the distance while amassing 10 strikeouts and allowing only 4 hits from the 29 batters he faced. Cory Martz, who pitched 5 2/3 innings before being replaced by Corey Epp, took the loss having allowed only 4 hits along with five walks on the day. The Axemen threatened early in game two of the Series while Kukovica struggled to find his groove on the mound for the Blackhawks. The Axemen stranded six over the first two innings of play while scoring only one run on two hits in the early going. That lack of production would prove costly for the Axemen as the Blackhawk bats came alive in the fourth and fifth innings with a pair of 2RBI home runs by Stork and Gregg. Kukovica took the win with seven innings of work having compiled 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 6 hits allowed. Paul Ofrim, in a losing cause, pitched five innings while striking out 6 batters, allowing 7 hits, and walking but 1 batter. Muzechka, in his two innings of relief, allowed no runs on no hits while striking out two batters. Both games were well played and fast paced and featured some fine defensive plays from both clubs. The Blackhawks emerged as League Champions for the second consecutive season after having captured the Servus Cup as pennant champions in the regular season. For live comments from both Managers following the Series, find League and scroll down to "Circling the Bases" , a weekly feature during the regular and post-season, hosted by Earl Thompson.

Regan Hoet Repeats as Post-Season MVP

Regan Hoet is the ultimate competitor; skilled, effective, and poised. Whether playing in his natural position of shortstop or standing on the mound delivering an array of craftily thrown projectiles stitched firmly together and bound in leather, Hoet will never cease to be the consummate player. Statistics alone cannot describe his value to the Blackhawks. That his calm demeanour and focused play have earned him a berth into the World Championship of Baseball is not surprising. That he has literally stood on his head in leading the Blackhawks to their 2014 pennant and 2014 championship is undeniable. Results speak for themselves, but in Hoet the Blackhawks get much more than a blue chip performer; they get all of the intangibles of great example and leadership. But to ponder the facts is to be in awe of Hoet's achievements. In 14 innings of post-season work on the mound, Hoet faced 56 batters allowing only 9 hits and a single run. He struck out 16 and walked only five on his way to recording two wins on two complete game performances. His ERA was 0.50. Hoet's defensive skills are poetry in motion. With a bat in his hands, he generated two hits on six at bats in the post-season scoring two runs in the process. That translates into a 0.333 batting average albeit on a limited number of plate appearances. Members of the selection committee did not have to ponder over their decision. Hoet was unquestionably the most deserving player in the NCABL post-season.

Thompson Named Director of Audio-Visual Programming

The incubation period is over. Today, the NCABL announced that the first audio program ever produced for distribution on it's official website will be launched on Monday. "Circling the Bases" with host Earl Thompson will be airing a new segment every Monday. The short weekly program can be viewed on the Official Website under the heading of League by scrolling down to the program's title, "Circling the Bases". Topics will vary from week to week and include interviews with League administration, Managers, guests, and even players and will also cover special events across the League. Thompson will be moderating the program which will feature a new segment weekly during the regular and post-season. All previous segments will be archived for easy reference. Earl welcomes any and all tips and suggestions for upcoming segments on his program. To contact him, simply find contacts on the main page and scroll down to "officials".


North Central Alberta Baseball League
Award Ceremony Held on August 16, 2014
At Keller Field in Westlock, Alberta


Presentation of the Servus Cup:
Recipient: Edmonton Blackhawks

The Blackhawks enjoyed their most prolific season yet in the NCABL . Under Manager Randy Gregg and Coach Duncan Knoll the club amassed seventeen regular season victories against only three losses. In doing so, they allowed only 62 runs against which represented the least in the entire eleven club circuit while scoring 146 runs against their opposition. Only the Mets and Axemen surpassed the Blackhawks in runs scored over the entire regular season. To their record, the Blackhawks recorded one tournament victory, capturing the Starchuk-Semeniuk Memorial Tournament in Waskatenau earlier in the season. Commissioner Paul Riopel presented the coveted Servus Cup to the Edmonton Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have won a total of two pennants since joining the NCABL, the previous one having been in 2008.


Presentation of the Bob Kootenay Memorial Award:
Presented to the Manager of the Year:

Recipient: Randy Gregg of the Edmonton Blackhawks

Randy Gregg is certainly not a stranger to this award having won it on three previous occasions, the first time in 2008 and more recently in each of the past two NCABL seasons. Recognized for his dedication to the growth and development of character individuals, Randy has utilized sport and baseball in particular as the medium from which to teach and mold his young charges. For Randy, the game of baseball offers him and his coaching staff led by Duncan Knoll, an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young men by imparting not only the skills of the game acquired through dedicated effort and self-discipline, but also by teaching them some of life's more subtle lessons such as the importance of working together and supporting one another in achieving a common goal.
This season, Randy introduced a new concept within the NCABL, that of a touring team comprised of players from around the League under the sponsorship of Blue Willow Restaurants. This is yet another example of Randy's dedication to the game. By exposing players within the NCABL to greater challenges both on and off the field, Randy is presenting them with opportunities for growth and development. For his dynamism, boundless energy, and commitment to his Managerial duties, NCABL Commissioner Paul Riopel presented the Bob Kootenay Memorial Award to Randy Gregg, the 2014 recipient of the Manager of the Year Award.


Presentation of the Dan Gerlach Memorial Award:
Presented to the Most Promising Junior Player of the Year in the NCABL:

Recipient: Joe Pasychnyk of the Camrose Axemen



The NCABL annually recognizes a young player who is under 21 years of age and who has distinguished himself by his steady on-field performances during the regular season. Joe Pasychnyk has provided the Axemen with plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future direction of his club. Pasychnyk's regular season batting average of .300 combined with his ability to power the baseball as evidenced by his 12 regular season RBI's, have not gone unnoticed by opposing Managers throughout the League. But his value to the Axemen is not limited to his batting. Pasychnyk, in his rookie season in the NCABL, logged 46 innings pitched for the Axemen leading all pitchers on this staff in this category by a wide margin. He faced a total of 220 batters while striking out 27 on his way to registering a 3.65 ERA. Joe's down to earth personality and unassuming nature have endeared him to his fellow team members who joined Commissioner Paul Riopel in congratulating Joe on having won the Most Promising Junior Player of the Year Award.


Presentation of the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award:
Presented to the player who has distinguished himself throughout the regular season by his exceptional offensive and defensive abilities resulting in the highest level of performance.

Recipient: Ryan Gregg of the Edmonton Blackhawks


Ryan Gregg's performance in 2014 has been nothing short of spectacular. Focused, consistent, and a formidable opponent for any pitcher to have to face, Ryan proceeded to record a 0.552 batting average during the regular season. His 58 at bats resulted in 32 hits and 25 RBI's including 12 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 home run. Ryan's steady glove in the infield only helped to solidify the fact that he did indeed exceed the performance standards of a quality athlete. Ryan Gregg enjoyed a stellar season in 2014, one in which he amply demonstrated why he is so deserving of the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award in the NCABL. Commissioner Riopel was the first to congratulate Ryan on a most exceptional regular season by presenting him with the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award.


Presentation of the Most Valuable Player in the Championship Series:
Recipient: Regan Hoet of the Edmonton Blackhawks


Regan Hoet is the ultimate competitor; skilled, effective, and poised. Whether playing in his natural position of shortstop or standing on the mound delivering an array of craftily thrown projectiles stitched firmly together and bound in leather, Hoet will never cease to be the consummate player. Statistics alone cannot describe his value to the Blackhawks. That his calm demeanour and focused play have earned him a berth into the World Championship of Baseball is not surprising. That he has literally stood on his head in leading the Blackhawks to their 2014 pennant and 2014 championship is undeniable. Results speak for themselves, but in Hoet the Blackhawks get much more than a blue chip performer; they get all of the intangibles of great example and leadership. But to ponder the facts is to be in awe of Hoet's achievements. In 14 innings of post-season work on the mound, Hoet faced 56 batters allowing only 9 hits and a single run. He struck out 16 and walked only five on his way to recording two wins on two complete game performances. His ERA was 0.50. Hoet's defensive skills are poetry in motion. With a bat in his hands, he generated two hits on six at bats in the post-season scoring two runs in the process. That translates into a 0.333 batting average albeit on a limited number of plate appearances. Members of the selection committee did not have to ponder over their decision. Hoet was unquestionably the most deserving player in the NCABL post-season.


 
North Central Alberta Baseball League: 2014   
    
Tabulated results for all voted awards   
    
Manager of the Year:  Ballot Points:
    
Randy GreggEdmonton Blackhawks 59
Adam SawatzkyWestlock Red Lions 54
Troy LitvinchukStony Plain mets 50
    
Most Promising Junior Player of the Year:   
    
Joseph PasychnykCamrose Axemen 51
Chance wheatleyCamrose Axemen 45
Braeden BurnsSherwood Park Athletics 25
    
Most Valuable Player of the Year:   
    
Ryan GreggEdmonton Blackhawks 64
Regan HoetEdmonton Blackhawks 55
Adam SawatzkyWestlock Red Lions 47
Chance WheatleyCamrose Axemen 36
Nic AudetEdmonton Athletics 34
Kevin DryburghSturgeon Paladins 34
Colin HoppeSherwood Park Athletics 33
Mike CoteStony Plain Mets 31
Levi DickSt. Albert Cardinals 18
Jory LutzmannEdmonton Warriors 16



Warriors End Fourteen Year NCABL Affiliation

The Warriors were the first Edmonton based franchise to join the North Central Alberta Baseball League in the Spring of 2001. Their entry into the NCABL was at the forefront of an aggressive campaign by the League to establish a foothold in the Edmonton baseball market. Prior to 2001, only the Sunburst League counted clubs within the city limits. Within a few short years, the NCABL was the only baseball presence in the capital city. The mantra of "an amateur League with a professional attitude" caught fire in the emerging Edmonton baseball market resulting in the demise of the last remaining Sunburst clubs and the emergence of four city based NCABL franchises which included the Edmonton Athletics, Edmonton Blackhawks, and most recently the Edmonton Indians. The Cubs have very recently added the only entry from Edmonton in the Sunburst League. As of 2015, however, the Warriors will no longer belong to the NCABL, a League they called home for fourteen consecutive seasons. In the earlier years, the Warriors often battled their way into the post season, but the franchise will leave without having won a pennant nor a championship. They will leave weakened and in disarray despite strong individual performances by a few of their players this past season. Nevertheless, they will be remembered as having been an icebreaker for NCABL expansion as well as having been a fun-loving group of athletes from the "north side of town" who always brought their own brand of baseball to the diamond.

Ken Schultz Memorial Award Presented during LCFS

Ken Schultz was passionate about the game of baseball, and this despite serious health issues which eventually took his life and cut short a promising amateur umpiring career in his thirties. Determined to continue umpiring despite these challenges, Ken exhibited tremendous inner strength and courage whenever he walked onto the field. He endured the pain and seldom complained about the unfairness of his situation. He was always alighted whenever the topic of baseball would come up in a conversation and even more captivated when with a group of his umpiring buddies discussing rotations or complex rule interpretations. Ken Schultz probably epitomized the true warrior in both spirit and quiet suffering. He loved the game of baseball and he loved the North Central Alberta Baseball League which gave him opportunities to be involved with the sport he loved far longer than would have been the case had he not belonged to a family compact which treasured his very presence and protected his right to be there. His passing brought sorrow to all of us who knew him, but at the same time we were left with memories to cherish and an award to remember Ken by. He would want those memories to reflect the best of times and the best of times were always those surrounding the game of summer. That great game will be taking a rest in the NCABL after this week-end's series, but not before another worthy individual is honoured by having his name affixed onto a trophy that bears the name of one of this League's most loyal heroes. Following the Championship Series, go to "Contacts" on the main page and scroll down to "Commissioner's Corner" for a full wrap-up of all award recipients and the stories accompanying each.

Gord Montgomery Receives Ken Schultz Memorial Award

Gord Montgomery, a local sportswriter with the Spruce Grove Examiner and Stony Plain Reporter, is the 2014 recipient of the Ken Schultz Memorial Award. The North Central Alberta's most prestigious annual award is reserved for individual's whose long time service to the game of baseball in a franchised area of the League has brought recognition to the sport of baseball. As a career sportswriter and former player and coach, Mr. Montgomery, with the support and encouragement of his wife, has always sought to present the game of baseball in an informative and enlightened manner bringing to life a game filled with nostalgic memories and the folklore of a young nation. For more about this and other 2014 awards, find "Contacts" and scroll down to "Commissioner's Corner".

2013


Championship Final Goes the Distance

The Westlock Red Lions dominated the Blackhawks in game 1 of the Championship Series held at Wally Footz Field in Edmonton on Saturday, handing them a 10-3 defeat. The Red Lion bats were alive as Matt Kukovica allowed 10 hits while the Blackhawks committed four errors further dampening the Blackhawk starter's effort at containing the hungry Lions. Kris Johnson of the Red Lions allowed only 3 runs to score on 3 Blackhawk hits while the Red Lions committed but one error. In game 2 of the Series, the table was turned as the Blackhawks pummeled Sean Beaudoin for 11 hits on their way to a commanding 7 - 0 victory over the Red Lions. Starter Regan Hoet was pulled after only three innings of work with the Blackhawks leading, denying him the victory. Mike Holroyd who replaced him and threw well for the Blackhawks was credited with the win. With the Championship Final Series deadlocked at one game apiece, these two quality ball clubs filled the summer air with the crack of the bats once more on Sunday to decide who would be taking home the treasured hardware along with the accompanying bragging rights. Regan Hoet, who had a loss to his record in the post-season semi-final series despite having given up only one earned run over nine innings pitched, was given the task of facing veteran starter Adam Sawatzky of the Red Lions. Hoet did not disappoint by going the distance in game 3, giving up only three hits while striking out six on his way to a complete game 7-1 victory over the defending League Champions. Although the Red Lions turned two double plays in consecutive innings to start the game, their bats were no match against the barrage they faced from a hot Blackhawk line-up led by Eric Campbell (3 for 4) with heavy support from Ewanishan, Holroyd, Jennings, and Martel who each contributed two hits in the final contest. Sawatzky was replaced by Aaron Watamaniuk in the fifth, one of the Red Lion's most prolific hitters with a post-season average of .461, who shut down the Blackhawks for the balance of the game. The damage was done, however, as the Blackhawks prevailed 7 -1 over the Red Lions to capture their second franchise championship having previously won in 2005.

For complete game results go to schedule and scroll down to post-season 2013.
 


Red Lions and Blackhawks Rebound Ousting Axemen and Athletics

Local baseball fans who attended the annual Semi-Final Series in Westlock this past week-end were thoroughly entertained by four clubs who all deserved to be there. In Series A, the Axemen played a strong opening game against the Red Lions defeating them 3 - 0 before dropping a more lopsided affair in game 2 of that series. The stage was set for a thrilling third and deciding game, one which saw Red Lion pitcher Sean Beaudoin go the distance as the Red Lions narrowly defeated the pennant champions from Camrose by a score of 3 -2. In Series B, the drama began early in game one with the Athletics leading the Blackhawks by a single run late in the game. With their backs against the wall in the bottom of the seventh, Martel drew a base on balls which was followed by a single from Knoll and an RBI single from Gregg to score Martel and push that game into extra innings. Six excellently played innings followed by both clubs until the thirteenth when both Demchuk and Kenyon singled for the Athletics. In an unsuccessful attempt to end the inning with a double play on Kenyon and Kirwor, Demchuk scored and the Athletics went on to win a thrilling opener. Sunday's stage was set when the Blackhawks responded with a game 2 victory behind the masterful pitching of Matt Kukovica. When the scoreboard flashed the score after game three, fans also saw Matt Kukovica atop the mound with hands raised in victory after having thrown fourteen innings of baseball and having allowed only 7 hits along the way. The hard fought 2 -1 victory was largely his doing, but key hits by Gregg, Reschny, Campbell, and Ewanishan sealed the deal for an experienced Blackhawks club who prevailed against a younger but very talented club from Sherwood Park.

For the complete results and for the League Championship Final Series schedule click onto "schedule" and scroll down to "post-season 2013".



Lucky fan asked to contact NCABL Office

During the deciding game of Series B between the Edmonton Blackhawks and Sherwood Park Athletics a rain delay resulted in many fans leaving the park prematurely. After a brief delay play resumed and the fans who remained witnessed the conclusion to a fine baseball game won by the Blackhawks 2-1 over the Athletics. One fan with ticket number 439282 left without collecting a prize which the NCABL will honour until August 31 If you are the holder of this lucky number and can produce it as validation, please contact the NCABL Office without delay. Axemen Capture Second Consecutive Pennant

The 2013 NCABL pennant race went wire to wire this season with three clubs emerging from the regular season with identical 13 and 5 records. With the pennant as the prize, the Blackhawks and Axemen met face to face on the last day of the regular season to do battle. Two crucial errors in the first inning by the Blackhawks allowed the Axemen to score three early runs and go on to post a 5 - 1 victory over the Blackhawks on their home field. The win propelled the Camrose Axemen to their second consecutive pennant and dropped the Blackhawks to second place and the Sherwood Park Athletics to third in the ten club League. The Westlock Red Lions were the fourth and final club to qualify for the post-season. The Axemen began the season by posting only two victories in their first six regular season games. Camrose caught fire after that closing their season with 11 victories while dropping only one game during that stretch.



Sunny Skies Prevail for 2013 All-Star Game

The Big League Sports All-Stars took to the field at Centennial Park with a complete roster featuring some of the best players, voted and selected, from the Red Lions, Blackhawks, Cardinals, Warriors, and Indians. Despite a depleted roster due to several no-shows, the Beverly Optimist All-Stars battled hard for five innings and only trailed by two runs (5-3) going into the sixth. The Beverly Optimist All-Stars even added a run in their half of the sixth but could not hold the surging Big League All-Stars who amassed seven runs during a huge sixth inning rally to secure the victory. The final score: Big League All-Stars 12 and the Beverly Optimist All-Stars 5. Jason Louis of the Indians earned MVP of the Game honors going three for four on the night including a triple, two RBI's and three runs scored. Following the game, Commissioner Riopel expressed some disappointment over the fact that several Beverly Optimist All-Star selections had recanted without giving proper notification to League Office which would have given the League time to find replacements. "It is unfortunate that the Beverly Optimist All-Stars were forced to play at a disadvantage tonight", commented the Commissioner. "This is not to say", he continued, "that the Big League All-Stars were not fully deserving of their victory. They played very well and were definitely the better club on this night." Also honoured in a pre-game ceremony were umpires David Skuban and Jim Crawford who both received five-year service recognition awards. Commissioner Riopel noted that the NCABL's core of umpires are examples of reliability and dedication to the game of baseball while exhibiting an unquestioned knowledge of the rules of the game.

Ken Schultz Memorial Award To Be Presented Next Month

Although Ken Schultz passed away years ago, the 34 year old umpire left this earth with a passion for the game and an even greater passion for umpiring. His perseverence through the pain and suffering of his lingering condition is what we will remember from Ken's passage in the NCABL. The Barrhead native may have lost his own personal battle, but he left us with the inspiration to serve with a steadfast determination despite the obstacles. The Ken Schultz Award was established by the NCABL and continues to be supported by the Schultz family to recognize dedicated and longtime service to the great game of baseball in the North Central Alberta area. It recognizes individuals who have impacted the game and the young men who play it, be it through their financial support, time committed to managing or coaching or umpiring or building. These individuals exist because if they didn't the game would not have survived and thrived in this part of the world. They are the individuals who probably go about giving to the game without seeking praise nor recognition. They are the pillars of our baseball community, both past and present. Honoring them in a special way by taking the time to nominate them for the Ken Schultz Memorial Award is but a small gesture of appreciation for what these individuals have done for the development of our sport and for the young men who have been positively influenced and molded into strong citizens along the way. Resumes should be mailed or E-mailed to League Office without delay.
 


The Best Are Voted in as 2013 All-Stars

Each year, Managers and Coaches from across the League vote for the ten players they deem to be the very best at their respective designated positions. These positions include the All-Star battery, five infield and three outfield positions along with a utility position. A utility player must exhibit a higher than average skill set at more than one position. The North Central Alberta Baseball League has released the names of the all-star players voted to the ten qualifying positions. Other players to a maximum of fifteen players per club will be "selected" by the respective All-Star Managers and their coaching staffs. The entire All-Star club rosters will be released shortly afterwards on this website. Congratulations to the following players who will be representing their respective All-Star clubs on Tuesday, July 23rd, during the annual All-Star Game.



Position Player Home Club All-Star Club Ballots
Pitcher Matt Kukovica Blackhawks Big League Sports 30
Catcher TJ Oliwa Red Lions Big League Sports 35
First base Jason Louis Indians Big League Sports 40
Second base Ryan Gregg Blackhawks Big League Sports 25
Third base Dustin Reschney Blackhawks Big League Sports 25
Shortstop Paul Ofrim Axemen Beverly Optimist 30
Outfield Evan Hoffman Warriors Big League Sports 30
Outfield Ryan Demchuk Sh. Pk. Athletics Beverly Optimist 25
Outfield Ryan Lyster Mets Beverly Optimist 20
Utility Sean Beaudoin Red Lions Big League Sports 45


Manager Adam Sawatzky of the Westlock Red Lions will be in charge of the Big League Sports All-Stars with assistance from the coaching staff of the Blackhawks, Cardinals, Warriors, and Indians. Brett McElroy will assume management duties for the Beverly Optimist All-Stars assisted by coaches from the Axemen, Mets, Edmonton Athletics, and Paladins. All selections by management must abide by NCABL guidelines which stipulate that all clubs must be represented on an All-Star club by at least one player. A second guideline limits the number of innings that any pitcher can pitch in an All-Star Game to two innings.



The Big League Sports All-Stars proved to be too much for the Beverly Optimist All-Stars to handle as they downed the latter by a score of 12-5 in the 2013 All-Star Game.

The Beverly Optimist All-Stars, although underrepresented, gave their rivals a few tough innings during the annual All-Star tilt held at Centennial Park and hosted by the Sherwood Park Athletics.



2012


2012 NCABL Pennant Winners

Jordan and Luc Riopel accept the Servus Cup from John Bosman on behalf of the Camrose Axemen who captured the 2012 NCABL pennant with a 14 - 4 record.


S
ummary of Award Winners: 2012

Servus Cup: Awarded to the Camrose Axemen
Manager: Wes Harrison


The Camrose Axemen first joined the NCABL in 2008. The club has been steadily improving since that time having narrowly missed the post-season last year with a record of 11-8-1, finishing 5th among eleven clubs. This season the Axemen acquired several new players who have greatly contributed to their on field success resulting in the club posting a regular season record of 14 wins and 4 losses which not only put them into the Championship Semi-Final Series for the first time but also into the NCABL record books as the second recipient of the Servus Cup, emblematic of regular season supremacy.

Bob Kootenay Memorial Award: presented to the Manager of the Year
Recipient: Randy Gregg, Edmonton Blackhawks


Randy Gregg has consistently fashioned competitive clubs since having entered the NCABL back in 2005. After failing to earn a post season berth in his first three seasons in the League, Randy has since led his club to five consecutive post season appearances. His NCABL resume includes a previous Manager of the Year Award and pennant in 2008 to go along with a single League Championship. This year the Blackhawks battled the Axemen to the bitter end of the regular season before bowing to Camrose by only half a game. The Blackhawks finished the regular season with a 13 -4 - 1 record. Randy's approach to the game of baseball has always incorporated strong elements of personal development and leadership. Sport for Randy is a conduit through which many life lessons may be learned. His players have certainly benefitted from his consistent and dedicated leadership, characteristics for which he is being recognized by his peers today.


Randy Gregg  Edmonton Blackhawks  54 ballot points
Adam Sawatzky  Westlock Red lions (first runner-up)  53 ballot points
Wes Harrison  Camrose Axemen (second runner-up)  43 ballot points


Dan Gerlach Memorial Award: presented to the Most Promising Junior Player
Recipient: Padon Brenholen, Sherwood Park Athletics


Rare are the multiple winners of this award. Padon Brenholen of the Sherwood Park Athletics joined an exclusive club of great young NCABL stars. Other repeat winners of the most promising junior player award include the likes of Rick Provencal, a Red Lion alumni and hall of famer, who twice won this award as a member of the Vimy Blues. Another member of the Red Lions' great alumni to have won this award an unprecedented five times is Terry Vandenborn. The only other double winners include Justin Pysar of the Morinville Pioneers and Jason Lee, also of the Pioneers. Pysar completed four years of baseball in an NCAA Division I school while Lee went on to play professionally in Korea. Padon led the NCABL in hitting with a blistering .453 batting average on 66 plate appearances. He amassed 14 RBIs
over the regular season while striking out only once. Despite recording six errors, Padon's defensive skills helped propel the Athletics into the post season for the first time in their history as his strong play in the closing weeks of the season propelled his club to eight consecutive victories enabling the Athletics to edge out the Legal Indians.

Top three most promising junior players in the NCABL

Paden Brenholen  Sherwood Park Athletics  55 ballot points
Kris Johnson  Westlock Red Lions  26 ballot points
Blair Mulder  Camrose Axemen  23 ballot points


Most Valuable Player of the Year Award: presented to the player whose singular contributions over the regular season most benefitted his club
Recipient: Adam Sawatzky, Westlock Red Lions


Adam Sawatzky is the consumate Red Lion, a baseball player whose love of the game and passion for it is immediately evident. Positioned in the infield, Adam will always provide his club with excellent heads up defense; start him on the bump and he'll almost always give you a complete game; bring him into a pressure filled situation and Sawatzky will relish the pressure and produce results. This season, more than ever, Adam was called upon to be all of these things for his club as they posted a third place finish to qualify for the post season. After pitching 61 innings of regular season baseball and posting a 2.41 ERA placing him sixth overall among league pitchers, Adam relished any other opportunity to contribute to a winning cause. For his total dedication and immesurable on-field contributions to the game, Adam Sawatzky was recognized and honoured as the 2012 recipient of the Most Valuable Player of the Year Award.

Top ten regular season most valuable players in the NCABL
 

Adam Sawatzky  Westlock Red Lions  62 ballot points
Regan Hoet  Edmonton Blackhawks  58 ballot points
Colin Vaughan  Sherwood Park Athletics  53 ballot points
Mike Cote  Mayerthorpe Mets  37 ballot points
Matt Kukovica  Edmonton Blackhawks  37 ballot points
Evan Hoffman  Edmonton Warriors  33 ballot points
Ryan Petryshyn  Edmonton Warriors  30 ballot points
Justin Brann  Sturgeon Paladins  28 ballot points
Nick Audet  Edmonton Athletics  23 ballot points
Andrew Grafton  Legal Indians  21 ballot points


The NCABL's top ten most valuable players of the year were selected using a double balloting system conducted by League Office with the cooperation of club management.

Ken Schultz Memorial Award: presented to a builder, promoter, or umpire whose long term contributions to baseball in North Central Alberta have significantly impacted the sport
Recipient: Dan Rude, Edmonton


Dan Rude hails from Westlock, Alberta, and once played for the storied Red Lions of the North Central Alberta Baseball League. Since moving to Edmonton as a young family man, Dan has not ceased being an active contributor to the game of baseball. His involvement with minor baseball began in Jasper Place where he has spent fifteen years working with the youth of that part of Edmonton both as a coach and umpire as well as on the Board of the South Jasper Place Minor Baseball Association. While on the Board, Dan has served as Treasurer, Promotions Director, Registrar, and more recently as President. Dan's involvement in the promotion of recreational baseball is well documented in the Edmonton area. In addition to his work locally, Dan serves as the Baseball Alberta Director for Zone 6. Dan has been previously recognized for his involvement in the game of baseball as a recipient of the Wally Footz Builders Award in 2009 and the Baseball Alberta President's Award in 2011. To these accomplishments, the North Central Alberta Baseball League wishes to add its most prestigious individual award, the Ken Schultz Memorial Award. Our congratulations to Dan Rude, 2012 recipient of the Ken Schultz Memorial Award for distinguished service to baseball.

NCABL Education Grant: provided through the generous support of our friends at Servus Credit Union
Presented to Kyle Muzechka, Camrose Axemen


The North Central Alberta Baseball League has a strong complement of young players attending post-secondary institutions. It is the League's contention that sport promotes strong and essential attributes that can be carried forward and applied in one's work life and family life. Along with Servus Credit Union, our partners in this endeavor, the NCABL recognizes a deserving young athlete at the end of every regular season. Kyle Muzechka of the Camrose Axemen is the 2012 recipient of the NCABL Educational Grant. Kyle's love of baseball began at a very early age in the community of Vegreville, Alberta, and progressed as a result of his dedication and commitment to perfecting his skills. Kyle enjoyed his minor baseball years in Rocky Mountain House under Harold Northcott as well as in Sherwood Park under Nathan Schweitzer and Randy Ferbey. As a member of Team Alberta at the Western Summer Games, Kyle pitched and won the gold medal game. More importantly, Kyle has always understood the importance of pursuing educational goals as well. Currently enrolled at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, Kyle is pursuing his post-secondary studies in the hope of graduating with a bachelor's degree in Sports Management. Aware of the contributions of others to his own growth and development throughout his lifetime, Kyle is eager to one day give back in much the same way that he received. The North Central Alberta Baseball League is proud to be partnered with Servus Credit Union and joins with them in congratulating Kyle Muzechka of the Camrose Axemen.