2016 Season

North Central Alberta Baseball League
Award Ceremony Held on August 28, 2016
At Telus Field in Edmonton, Alberta

Presentation of the NCABL Education Grant
Sponsored by Servus Credit Union
Recipient: Forrest Hisey of the Sherwod Park Athletics

This year’s recipient of the NCABL’s Education Grant hails from Sherwood Park and is a junior aged member of the Athletics. Forrest Hisey’s on-field accomplishments this season earned him the Dan Gerlach Memorial Award as the most promising junior player in the NCABL. His 1.73 ERA placed him among the League’s elite pitchers and at 21 years of age, the youngest player to position himself within the League’s top ten pitchers this season. In addition to his interest in baseball, Forrest is focused on obtaining a political science degree with a major in environmental studies before pursuing a law degree with a specialization in environmental issues. Forrest is currently enrolled as a sophomore at Augustana College in Rock Island , Illinois. He plans on continuing to play baseball on the Augustana College Varsity Baseball club as he dedicates himself to also completing his educational pursuits. The NCABL and its sponsor, Servus Credit Union, is proud to support Forrest in reaching his stated goals. Here today to accept the NCABL Education Grant on behalf of her son is Mrs. Hisey. Once again, our congratulations and best wishes to Forrest on having been chosen as this year’s recipient.

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: Rod Callihoo, Barrhead

Rod Callihoo’s love of baseball began early in life and has only grown since then as measured by his dedication and commitment to the game over the years. Rod used his years as a player for the Barrhead Orioles as a springboard to his involvement with the game in later years. From coaching in the Barrhead Minor Baseball system to planning all of the schedules for Barrhead’s launch into competitive baseball, Rod will be best remembered and admired for the way he treated kids. Under Rod’s leadership, no child sat and everyone benefitted from Rod’s knowledge of the game of baseball. It was not uncommon for Rod’s minor division teams to practice four times per week. It was also not uncommon to see Rod organizing work bees to do repairs to bleachers, fences, or backstops and to spend countless hours grooming the fields those children would play on.

When Rod Callihoo first joined the board and became Vice-President of Barrhead Minor Baseball, baseball was struggling in Barrhead and enrolments were down. When Rod left the board as President ten years later in 2015, Barrhead’s baseball program had seen a dramatic improvement in both the number of participants as well as in the quality of play. Competitive baseball had returned to Barrhead and a large measure of that success story is owed to Rod Callihoo, whose vision and guidance made it all happen. Today, two Midget teams take to the field in Barrhead where a few short years ago none existed. The Barrhead Orioles who were absent from the NCABL for years have also returned with a promising outlook for the future. Rod has not only given of his time and talents to baseball and softball, but to other sports as well. Rod is a highly respected high school volleyball coach. He has helped Barrhead High School reach the provincial championship round as head coach and assistant coach over ten consecutive years.

Rod has the ability to reach people in an unassuming manner. This attribute defines him as a leader and a special person in his community. Today, the NCABL wishes to recognize Rod as a community leader and a tireless worker in our baseball community. Here to present Rod with the Ken Schultz Memorial Award is Becky Smith, niece of both Ken and Tim Schultz.


Rod Callihoo receiving the 2016 Ken Schultz Memorial Award from Commissioner Riopel and Becky Smith representing the Schultz family

Presentation of the Most Valuable Player in the Championship Series

Presented to: Kyle Lawrence of the Edmonton Blackhawks

Kyle Lawrence continued where he left off during the regular season by demonstrating why he was the most consistent performer under any kind of pressure situation. The crafty pitcher was chosen to take the mound for the all important first game of the LCFS . He faced 29 Mets batters over seven complete innings allowing 4 hits and 3 walks on his way to blanking the opposition by a 3 – 0 score. During the post season, Kyle threw a total of 15.3 innings while giving up 11 hits and only one earned run. His 21 post season strike-outs led the field. When not pitching, Lawrence was used in the outfield where he turned in a solid performance. Despite a cold bat, Lawrence was by far the shining star among a strong supporting cast.

North Central Alberta Baseball League
Award Ceremony Held on August 20, 2016
At Keller Field in Westlock, Alberta

Presentation of the Servus Cup:
Recipient: Edmonton Blackhawks

The Edmonton Blackhawks have joined a select group by capturing a third consecutive NCABL pennant. Only the Morinville Pioneers and Westlock Red Lions, who accomplished this feat on three separate occasions, have this claim to fame. The Blackhawks were undefeated in the first half of the regular season and completed the regular season with a record of 15 wins and only three losses besting the surging Sherwood Park Athletics by a single game. The Blackhawks allowed only 34 runs while scoring 180 over the regular season eclipsing their 2015 accomplishments by a wide margin. The NCABL wishes to congratulate the Blackhawks for an exceptional regular season by presenting them with the Servus Cup, emblematic of regular season supremacy in the North Central Alberta Baseball League.

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

Recipient: Brett McElroy of the Sherwood Park Athletics

A very young Brett McElroy broke into the NCABL six seasons ago after having been given the reigns of a very youthful club, most of whom were fresh out of Sherwood Parks’ Midget AAA program. Three years later, Brett led his club into the post-season for the first time repeating that feat the following year. After missing the post season in each of the following two seasons, McElroy guided the Athletics to their best regular season ever in 2016 finishing second to the Blackhawks while recording a record of 14 wins and 4 losses. The Athletics were red hot in the second half of the season and hope to capitalize on that momentum going into the post season. Brett McElroy, from a very young age, has always conducted himself in an exemplary fashion on the playing field, displaying good sportsmanship and a cool demeanour. His leadership style has earned him the respect of his peers. In recognition of his dedication, success, and personal growth as a Manager, the NCABL wishes to honour Brett with the Bob Kootenay Memorial Award presented annually to the Manager of the Year.

Tabulated results for the 2016 Manager of the Year:

  Ballot Points
Brett McElroySherwood Park Athletics58
Randy GreggEdmonton Blackhawks44
Brad WaldeStony Plain Mets36

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: Kyle Lawrence of the Edmonton Blackhawks

Kyle Lawrence is another of those unassuming athletes whose contributions to the success of the Blackhawks has been monumental this season. A reliable outfielder who usually patrols right field, Kyle enjoyed a breakout season at the plate. Kyle placed 9th on the NCABL’s regular season top twenty list on his way to recording a .444 batting average. He saw the ball exceptionally well all season long striking out only twice on 45 official at bats. Lawrence scored 22 runs while driving in 9 for the pennant champion Blackhawks. But Kyle’s contributions to his club’s success did not stop there. When called upon to pitch this season, Kyle delivered in spades and an assortment of difficult to hit pitches which earned him the second best ERA in the League behind teammate Regan Hoet, last season’s MVP. Lawrence logged more innings for the Blackhawks than any other of their pitchers. He registered a 1.13 ERA on 43.33 innings pitched. Lastly, Lawrence led all pitchers in recording a whopping 66 strikeouts. Among his four credited wins was a late season no-hitter. Kyle Lawrence is a most deserving winner of the Most Valuable Player of the year award and the League wishes to congratulate him on his exceptional season of play.

Tabulated results for the 2016 Top Ten Most Valuable Players:

  Ballot Points
Kyle LawrenceEdmonton Blackhawks62
Josh TurnerStony Plain Mets55
Blair MulderCamrose Axemen48
Forrest HiseySherwood Park Athletics44
Blair CowleyEdmonton Primeaus40
Austin WatamaniukWestlock Red Lions27
Brent WierengaBarrhead Orioles24
Kyle FagnanEdmonton Primeaus40
Nick AudetEdmonton Athletics19
Taylor HeckBarrhead Orioles18

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

Recipient: Forrest Hisey of the Sherwood Park Athletics

Forrest Hisey, a junior aged player, enjoyed his best season of his young career in 2016. His greatest contributions came on the hill where his 1.73 ERA solidified third place among the League’s elite top ten pitchers. Only teammate Brennan Nelson registered a better record but his 12 innings of work were no match for the 28 and one third innings logged by Hisey. Forrest finished the regular season with 4 W, 1 L, and 1 Save giving the Athletics a solid outing each time. Forrest also recorded a solid .347 batting average scoring 12 runs and driving in 17. Hisey’s ability to hit for power was also evident as he led the entire League in home runs with three.

Tabulated results for the 2016 Most Promising Junior Player of the Year

  Ballot Points
Forrest HiseySherwood Park Athletics66
Cody McElroySherwood Park Athletics58
Kento VanzwollSt. Albert Cardinals32

Fan of the Year Recognition

Every season, clubs are invited to nominate one of their fans whose loyalty, commitment, and service to the club have been greatly appreciated throughout the season. The NCABL wishes to acknowledge two such fans today. The Edmonton Primeaus join the NCABL in thanking Cathy Fagnan. The St. Albert Cardinals join the NCABL in thanking Pat Sullivan.

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 Blackhawks3Stony Plain Mets0

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 Blackhawks2Westlock Red Lions1

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 Mets9Sherwood Park Athletics0


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 Blackhawks7Westlock Red Lions5

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 Mets7Sherwood Park Athletics6


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:

PitcherFrom the Blackhawks#12Kyle Lawrence
CatcherFrom the Blackhawks#5Sam Ewanishan
First BaseFrom the Blackhawks#11Kevin Stork
Second BaseFrom the Mets#27Blair McGeough
Third BaseFrom the Edmonton Athletics#87Gus Salgado
ShortstopFrom the Primeaus#19Kyle Fagnan
OutfieldFrom the Cardinals#6Hayden Chies
OutfieldFrom the Red Lions#8Chris Brand
OutfieldFrom the Mets#15Chad Spellman
UtilityFrom the Edmonton Athletics#7Peter 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.

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.