2015 Season

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 TolesCamrose Axemen50
Tyson StasiukEdmonton Athletics29
Randy GreggEdmonton Blackhawks25

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 HoetEdmonton Blackhawks54
Blair MulderCamrose Axemen49
Chris BrandWestlock Red Lions35
Hayden ChiesSt. Albert Cardinals35
Cornelius FriesenBarrhead Orioles35
Blair McGeoughStony Plain Mets35
Mike CoteStony Plain Mets31
Mark TrelaEdmonton Athletics31
Riley GuntripCamrose Axemen27
Dylan BormanCamrose Axemen25
Kevin DryburgSturgeon Paladins25

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 BormanCamrose Axemen59
Ryan GuntripCamrose Axemen56
Forrest HiseySherwood Park Athletics29

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.

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:

PositionPlayerHome ClubAll-Star ClubBallot
PitcherCornelius FriesenBarrhead OriolesAmyotte40
CatcherAaron WatamaniukWestlock Red LionsBeverly Optimist25
First BaseCraig FagnanEdmonton IndiansBeverly Optimist35
Second BaseBlair McGeoughStony Plain MetsBeverly Optimist35
Third BaseDustin ReschnyEdm. BlackhawksAmyotte20
ShortstopRegan HoetEdm. BlackhawksAmyotte20
OutfieldChris BrandWestlock Red LionsBeverly Optimist45
OutfieldHayden ChiesSt. Albert CardinalsBeverly Optimist35
OutfieldKyle MartelEdm. BlackhawksAmyotte30
UtilityBryan BartmanSturgeon PaladinsAmyotte30

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 Lions1 Edmonton Blackhawks0
Edmonton Blackhawks5 Westlock Red Lions0
Westlock Red Lions9 Edmonton Blackhawks7

Westlock Red Lions advance to the League Championship Final Series

Semi-Finals Series B:    
Camrose Axemen2 Stony Plain Mets0
Camrose Axemen7 Stony Plain Mets1

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.

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.