The Parkland Twins edged the Westlock Red Lions 2-0 at Keller Field on Saturday, August 27th to capture their first League Championship in straight games.
CALENDAR OF IMPORTANT DATES: 2023
|February 15||Deadline for the provision of home dates and black out dates to the Official Scorer.|
|March 15||Distribution of a first draft schedule to all clubs by the Official Scorer.|
|March 22||Deadline for the acceptance of club requests for final changes to the draft schedule.|
|March 27||Spring Bi-Annual Board of Governors Meeting. Scheduled for 7:00 – 10:00 pm|
Location: Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Address: 9502, 100 ave.,
|April 15||NCABL Annual Umpire Meeting. Scheduled for 10:00 am – 1:00 pm Location:|
Morinville Leisure Centre. Address: East of Morinville on 100th ave.
|April 29||Official Scoring Clinic: Morinville Community High School @ 9506, 100 ave.,|
Time: 09:00 A.M . Session 1 starts for beginners and non-accredited scorers. 12:30 P.M. Lunch for all registrants included. 1:00 P.M. Session 2 starts for all accredited scorers including beginners and non-accredited scorers. The clinic will end at 4:00 P.M. Pre-registration is required. Simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org leaving your name, an e-mail address, and cell phone number. Free to all NCABL scorers. A course fee of $35 for all non-NCABL scorers due and payable at the door. Cash or check only.
|May 10||Opening Day|
|June 1||NCABL player registration deadline.|
|June 15||NCABL player pick-up deadline for clubs entering Baseball Alberta competition.|
|July 1||NCABL late player registration deadline.|
|July 1||Umpire selections’ deadline to League Office for LCSFS and LCFS assignments.|
Non binding club option.
|July 1||NCABL All-Star Club balloting deadline.|
NCABL standings cut-off date for All-Star Club allocations.
|July 23||NCABL All-Star Game. First pitch @ 2:00 PM Location: Keller Field, Westlock|
|August 1||Nomination deadline for the Ken Schultz Memorial Award.|
|August 1||Balloting deadline for the Most Promising Junior Player Award.|
|August 1||Balloting deadline for the Manager of the Year Award.|
|August 1||Nomination deadline for a Fan of the Year recognition: optional and limited to one candidate per club per season. Free admission to all post-season play for recognized fans.|
|August 1||Nomination deadline for the most valuable player of the year award|
|August 4||Balloting deadline for the NCABL Most Valuable Player of the Year.|
|August 11||Deadline date for regular season play.|
|August 12||LCSFS A and B begins at Keller Field in Westlock with games at 10:00, 13:00, and 16:00.|
|August 13||LCSFS A and B concludes at Keller Field in Westlock Alberta. Game times TBA.|
|August 17 – 21||Parkland Twins away to Manitoba to compete in the Western Canada Baseball Championship.|
|August 18 – 20||Western Canada Baseball Championship in Manitoba.|
|August 25||League Championship Final Series (LCFS): Game #1|
Hosted by the top regular season finisher among the semi-finalist qualifiers
|August 26||League Championship Final Series (LCFS): Game #2|
Hosted by the lower regular season finisher among the semi-finalist qualifiers
|August 27||League Championship Final Series (LCFS): Game #3 (if necessary)|
Hosted by the top regular season finisher among the semi-finalist qualifiers
|August 28||League Championship Final Series (LCFS): Rain out date|
|September 15||Baseball Alberta Awards nomination deadline|
Baseball Alberta Scholarship Application deadline
|October||NCABL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (2nd)|
Site, date, and time: TBA
|November 4||NCABL Fall Bi-Annual Meeting: Site: TBA. Time: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM|
Catch all of the NCABL post-season action in this, our 55th consecutive year of operation
Catch all of the NCABL post-season action in this, our 55th consecutive year of operation
League Championship Semi-Final Series A: (best of three)
August 18, 2022: Parkland Twins – 11 @ St. Albert Cardinals – 1
August 20, 2022: St. Albert Cardinals – 7 @ Parkland Twins – 8
League Championship Semi-Final Series B: (best of three)
August 19, 2022: Westlock Red Lions – 9 @ Fort Sask. Reds -1
August 21, 2022: Fort Sask. Reds – 3 @ Westlock Red Lions – 13
The Red Lions and Twins advance to the League Championship Series
League Championship Final Series: (best of three)
#1 Westlock Red Lions – 5 vs. Parkland Twins 6
#2 Parkland Twins – 2 vs. Westlock Red Lions – 0
Parkland Twins win LCFS in two straight games at Keller Field in Westlock
ceremonies have been scheduled as follows:
Schultz Memorial Award
Saturday Aug. 27 Pre-game
of the Championship Series
To follow final game of series
To follow final game of
To follow final
game of series
All Star return
The return of the NCABL All-Star Game in 2022 was a success. Both All-Star Clubs posed together following the game played at Telus Field. Team B edged Team A by a score of 5 – 4 in what was a most entertaining baseball game.
All-Star Game Returns to Remax Field in 2022
All-Star Game Returns to Remax Field in 2022
After a two year hiatus, the North Central Alberta Baseball League All-Stars will be returning to Remax Field to resume a long standing tradition. Covid interrupted this significant baseball event in both 2020 and 2021 but the League boldly moved forward in both years with an abbreviated regular season. The newly renovated Remax Field, home of the Edmonton Riverhawks, will be a beautiful venue for the return of the League’s All-Stars. Despite having lost three franchises following the 2021 campaign, the League has slowly re-stabilized, and is hopeful to add to its numbers in the not too distant future. In the meantime, the League proudly celebrated the announcement of its official 2022 All-Star Club following the results of League wide balloting this afternoon. The voted All-Stars were chosen from across the entire League and will form part of two rosters representing divisional rivals. Next week, management will be releasing the names of additional players selected to represent each division. The two divisions emerge from splitting clubs according to the standings as of July 1st. Odd numbered clubs in the standings will face off against the even numbered clubs. Official names for each of the All-Star squads based on their promotional affiliations have yet to be named by the League.
The voted All-Stars by position and club affiliation are as follows:
Pitcher Mac Hillman Parkland Twins
Catcher Jared Lamb Parkland Twins
First Base Jarett Wilson St. Albert Cardinals
Second Base Josh Fisher Parkland Twins
Third Base Kirk Lachance Parkland Twins
Shortstop Ryan Poeter Parkland Twins
Outfield Hayden Chies Westlock Red Lions
Outfield Nathan Brown Westlock Red Lions
Outfield Luc Riopel St. Albert Cardinals
Utility Peter Shepert St. Albert Cardinals
CALENDAR OF IMPORTANT DATES: 2022
N.C.A.B.L. CALENDAR OF IMPORTANT DATES: 2022
February15 Deadline for the provision of home dates and black out dates to the Official Scorer.
March 15 Distribution of a first draft schedule to all clubs by the Official Scorer.
March 22 Deadline for the acceptance of club requests for final changes to the draft schedule.
March 29 Spring Bi-Annual Board of Governors Meeting. Scheduled for 7:00 – 10:00 pm
Location: Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Address: 9502, 100 ave.,
April 23 NCABL Annual Umpire Meeting. Scheduled for 10:00 am – 1:00 pm Location:
Morinville Community High School. Address: 9506, 100 Ave., Morinville, Ab.
April 30 Official Scoring Clinic: Morinville Community High School @ 9506, 100 ave.,
Morinville, Alberta. Time: 09:00 AM to 12:30 PM: Refresher session for accredited scorers.Time: 09:00 AM to 16:00 PM: Full session for beginners and non-accredited scorers. Pre-registration by E-mail to League office required by April 25th.
May 8 Opening Day
June 1 NCABL player registration deadline.
June 15 NCABL player pick-up deadline for clubs entering Baseball Alberta competition.
July 1 NCABL late player registration deadline.
July 1 Umpire selections’ deadline to League Office for LCSFS and LCFS assignments.
Non binding club option.
July 1 NCABL All-Star Club balloting deadline.
NCABL standings cut-off date for All-Star Club allocations.
July 17 NCABL All-Star Game. First pitch @ 2:00 PM
Location: Remax Field.
August 1 Nomination deadline for the Ken Schultz Memorial Award.
August 1 Balloting deadline for the Most Promising Junior Player Award.
August 1 Balloting deadline for the Manager of the Year Award.
August 1 Nomination deadline for a Fan of the Year recognition: optional and limited to
one candidate per club per season.
August 12 Deadline date for regular season play.
August 12 Nomination deadline for the most valuable player of the year award
August 14 Balloting deadline for the NCABL Most Valuable Player of the Year.
August 18 NCABL Semi-Final Championship Series A (LCSFS): Game #1
Hosted by the fourth place club.
August 19 NCABL Semi-Final Championship Series B (LCSFS): Game #1
Hosted by the third place club.
August 20 NCABL Semi-Final Championship Series A (LCSFS): Games #2 and #3
Hosted by the Pennant Champions.
August 21 NCABL Semi-Final Championship Series B (LCSFS): Games #2 and #3
Hosted by the second place club.
August 27-28 League Championship Final Series hosted by the winning semi-finalist highest
in the regular season standings.
Sept. 15 Baseball Alberta Awards nomination deadline
Baseball Alberta Scholarship Application deadline
October NCABL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (2nd)
Site, date, and time: TBA
Nov. 5 NCABL Fall Bi-Annual Meeting: Site: TBA. Time: 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Morinville Museum Ousts NCABL Hall of Fame
Morinville Museum Ousts NCABL Hall of Fame
Citing a lack of space due to the increasing pressure to house more artifacts from St. Jean Baptiste Church following the devastating fire which burned that historic building to the ground almost two months ago, the Morinville Museum Committee informed League Office that it must vacate its premises in short order. Commissioner Riopel was taken aback by the committee’s decision which was swift and totally unexpected. Another reason given by the Museum Committee for asking that the NCABL vacate the premises was that the Hall of Fame did not fit all of the criteria for housing within a designated museum. Commissioner Riopel responded that this fact had not prevented the museum from having welcomed the NCABL in 2017 during the League’s 50th anniversary celebrations. In that year, the Town of Morinville had assisted the NCABL in encouraging the Morinville Museum Committee to approve a move to that facility located on Morinville’s main street. Prior to 2017, the Hall of Fame had a smaller footprint and had found space in the former Morinville Cultural Centre as well as in the Town Hall itself. Today, the Hall contains all of the press books containing the entire League history from its formation in 1967 to the present day. This massive undertaking was completed by the NCABL in its 50th anniversary year and first entered into a public exposition during the “Meet and Greet” event held in Westlock as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Morinville was recognized as the official seat of the NCABL by decree of Council in 1993 following the League’s Silver Anniversary celebrations. The NCABL has always maintained an official address in Morinville despite the Town not having had a franchise in over two decades. Commissioner Riopel addressed Morinville Town Council last Tuesday to inform them of the Museum’s decision. Discussions are set to take place with upper administration in the very near future when we will hopefully have more to report on the fate of the NCABL Hall Of Fame in Morinville.
New Challengers Emerge in Post-Season
New Challengers Emerge in Post-Season
The youngest franchise in the NCABL will be making its first visit to the post season in 2021. The youthful Fort Saskatchewan Reds will not have an easy task facing the Pennant Champion Sherwood Park Athletics. The Reds, who have enlisted some promising and talented players, will be rolling out a much shorter bench than will the well balanced, deeper, and more experienced Athletics. Sherwood Park breezed to an 11-1 record during the abbreviated season to capture their third pennant. As reigning NCABL Champions, they will be hungry to repeat for their second consecutive title. Last season the Athletics captured their first crown after several disappointing losses to the Edmonton Blackhawks in previous series’. A sweep over the Red Lions in 2020 broke the ice for Sherwood Park who will be difficult to unseat from their perch atop the NCABL. Post-season action in that series, which will all be played at Centennial Park #9 in Sherwood Park, begins on Thursday, August 19th, at 7:00 PM. The Reds will be the home club for that game with the series concluding on Saturday, August 21, with games scheduled for 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm if necessary both hosted by the Athletics.
The Edmonton Athletics have not been in the show for more than a decade. Thanks to the re-emergence of all-star pitcher Mark Trela, the Edmonton club took advantage of the abbreviated season to finish with a .500 winning percentage, good enough for a third place finish this season. Trela will have to continue providing stellar performances against the rebuilding Red Lions if the Athletics are to emerge as victors from LCSFS-B. Semi-final Series B will open on Friday, August 20th, at Wally Footz Field in Edmonton. Game time is 7:00 pm. This series will return to Westlock’s Keller Field on Sunday, August 22nd, for games 2 and 3 if necessary. Game times on Sunday are set for 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm respectively. An admission of $5 per person will be charged at all venues. Children 10 and under will be admitted free of charge.
North Central Alberta Baseball League Poised to Launch
No sooner had Alberta Health and the Provincial Government announced that their targets for a full re-opening of all sports venues had been met that the NCABL followed suit with an announcement of their own. To no one’s surprise, the League with an impressive fifty-four consecutive year track record, will be taking to the diamonds on opening day, June 14th, just days after being given the green light to do so. League Office released a partial schedule which will provide fans with a steady diet of baseball until the close of the regular season on August 13th. Seven franchises will be vying for the four traditional post season berths including the youngest franchise from Fort Saskatchewan known as the Reds. Joining the Reds will be the St. Albert Cardinals and Westlock Red Lions who battled in a separate cohort last season to meet health requirements then in place but which will no longer impact this season’s alignment. Joining them will be the reigning League Champion Sherwood Park Athletics, the Parkland Twins, the Edmonton Primeaus, and the Edmonton Athletics. The League also announced the cancellation of the annual All-Star Game for the second time in as many seasons, partly due to the abbreviated season’s impact on player selection to the All-Star club. Likewise, the League will not be activating its core of official scorers nor providing complete statistical coverage for all active players within the League during the regular season. During the post-season, however, the League will be returning to full statistical coverage of all games played in both the LCSFS and LCFS series. The post-season will begin on August 19th and conclude on August 29th, barring any rain postponements which would push the boys of summer into September as was the case last season. The sound of baseballs popping into the leather and resonating after solid contact with a bat will once again be greeting visitors to the ball yards this summer.
Sherwood Park Athletics Have Arrived
The Sherwood Park Athletics arrived on the NCABL scene in 2010 amid much fanfare and high expectations from the graduating Midget AAA club who had represented Sherwood Park Minor Baseball at the highest minor league level. Fast forward eleven years after following the steady evolution and development of this young club and one would have noticed a steady ascent to baseball stardom. To become that star requires many attributes. Baseball maturity is not a right of passage from one League to another. Baseball maturity is earned through the patient application of dozens of intangibles associated with the game of baseball. Experience is the capture of all on field moments, whether while gripping a piece of lumber as you await a 3-2 pitch or executing an infield shift to improve your chances at executing that double play. Baseball experience is also the capture and control of the cadence and psychology of the game.
The mental game or game within the game is a true test of baseball maturity. Therein lies the reason why a true champion cannot be crowned without having reached a level of baseball maturity worthy of the title being won. That title can now be proudly affixed onto the caps of the Sherwood Park Athletics for they have arrived! The Sherwood Park Athletics are true NCABL Champions.
Fresh New Website Design to Usher In 2021 Season
Many months have passed since the Board of Governors approved of a plan to revamp its original website and to replace it with a fresh new look and a more interactive display. Today marks the official launch of that long awaited moment. As our website continues to be updated so as to incorporate all of its rich historical past, so will it pursue new directions to include more photography, better ad displays, improved integration with our Facebook account, a more direct interface with our statistical department which will mean much faster access to our club stats, along with timely short news reports on baseball topics of interest to our League. The full potential of our new website will not be realized instantaneously, but hopefully the improvements will be evident from the time of our launch and will continue to surface as we grow in our familiarity with this new product. The League is happy to announce that our complete staff responsible for the delivery of our website and statistical package is now in place. We are grateful for the continued services of our website manager, Jani Painter. We welcome back into our fold our highly respected Official Statistician, Ryan Petryshyn. We also welcome our newly appointed Chief Clinician, Cathy Fagnan, who will be in charge of future “Official Scoring Clinics” as well as undertaking a supervisory role over all official scorers qualified to work games in the NCABL.
Pandemic Continues Assault on Sports
Although the pandemic posed a considerable threat to the 2020 NCABL season, the League managed, through the dogged persistence of its Governors, to complete an abbreviated regular season followed by a highly successful post-season. The month of September was flagged as amateur baseball’s new “October” as the NCABL produced three exciting series of baseball which saw a new League Champion crowned preceded by two exciting semi-final series which both went the distance. The League did not lose the word “consecutive” in describing its 53rd season of play. Since player safety and adherence to health regulations were uppermost in importance for the League, the NCABL went to great lengths to establish sound protocols which were largely respected by all franchises. This valuable experience should greatly assist the League in its efforts to launch a 54th season despite looming threats from a virus which has mutated several times and which has reared its ugly head in our province. The NCABL will definitely continue to work diligently in its preparation for yet another success story in 2021. Though we may not have all of the resources of the professional sports organizations, the NCABL has remained strong and resilient in the face of all challenges. This “amateur league with a professional attitude” attracted several players from other leagues last season who joined our clubs and went on to enjoy an entertaining season of baseball. More and more players now have a growing appreciation of the NCABL’s ability to offer a quality product both on and off the field. For this reason, the League anticipates a growing interest from players in other leagues who would prefer playing meaningful baseball within the NCABL in 2021.
Official Scorers to Refine Their Skill
Have you wanted to better understand the game of baseball, or better still position yourself just a little bit closer to the action? The League can and will afford you that opportunity again this season. Whether you are a novice or an experienced scorer, or whether you have been recruited or simply want to better acquaint yourself with the game of baseball, learning about scoring can be an educational and rewarding experience.
This season, returning scorers will be offered a half day refresher course which will be conducted completely apart from the novice sessions. A live game course component will also be offered to NCABL scorers only as an optional supplement to their training. If you are a first time attendee, whether working for the NCABL or taking the course to assist your minor baseball organization, the program will involve a full day of presentations. Lunch will be provided on site and included with your registration. Registration is free to all NCABL sponsored scorers; all others attending will be paying a $35 fee on site. Registration is easy. Simply include your full name, a telephone number where you can be reached, and your E-mail address and send this information to email@example.com by April 25th inclusively.
The Official Scoring Clinic will be taking place on Saturday, April 27th, at the Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton. Both sessions begin with registration at 9:00 AM. Returning scorers may attend the full day of presentations at their discretion. As a special incentive this season, all NCABL scorers in attendance for the half day program will be eligible to receive a small stipend of $10 per regular season game for which they are the registered official scorer. Annual attendance is mandatory in order to qualify for the stipend. Spread the news. Register a friend. Come and learn all about the fundamentals of scoring a game of baseball. For all returnees, the focus will be on completing a game summary form and tracking and recording pitching statistics (ERA).
For all novices, you will learn all about the essential tools for properly scoring a game without delving into any knotty problems
N.C.A.B.L. Growing Their Footprint in Edmonton Area
The North Central Alberta Baseball League, once known as a predominantly rural league, lost another country based club following the 2018 regular season but just as quickly picked up yet another Edmonton area franchise. Eight Sturgeon County communities once boasted having a club playing in the NCABL. Horse Hills, Namao, Gibbons, Morinville, Alexander, and Redwater have not fielded teams in the past twenty years. The Town of Legal lost their club within the past decade. Now, the Sturgeon Paladins playing out of Bon Accord have pulled up stakes leaving the County of Sturgeon without any representation in the NCABL. The loss of the Paladins has further strengthened the view that the NCABL has adapted very well to the demographic shift which began almost twenty years ago and which has seen a dramatic growth of baseball within the larger Edmonton metropolitan area while the rural presence has almost totally disappeared.
This season, The Parkland Twins will launch their inaugural season from their base in Spruce Grove. This will return eight franchises to the NCABL producing a 21 game schedule which was recently released by the League (go to schedule/regular season). Quality of play has not suffered as a result of this geographic shift as improved coaching and superior playing fields have positively impacted play within the NCABL. The League does believe that several communities within the County of Sturgeon have the resources needed to bring back baseball to its former position of summer dominance, but time will tell if the potential to do so will in effect translate into reality. Sturgeon County is where it all began and the Town of Morinville in particular holds the distinction of being the official seat of the North Central Alberta Baseball League in addition to housing the only sport specific Hall of Fame in Alberta. These historical facts alone should encourage community leaders to revisit the possibility of returning the game to the place of its birth in north central Alberta.
Expectations and Prognostications for Season Fifty-Two
What is certain about the upcoming season is that the Blackhawks will be representing the NCABL in the Western Canada Senior Championship to be held in Stonewall, Manitoba in August. The veteran club is expected to be very competitive in that Championship as were other League representatives in season’s past. The Blackhawks will have access to other players from across the League who will not be involved in the LCSFS which happens to be scheduled for the same week-end in August. In addition to planning for this event, the Blackhawks will also have their sights set on returning to defend their Championship title, their fourth over the past decade to go along with three pennant victories during the same time period. Under the tutelage of Manager Randy Gregg and coach Duncan Knoll, look for the defending champions to retain a top four finish and to be strong contenders for a fifth title providing that the road to Western’s has not unduly tired the club.
If any club rises to the challenge of taking the championship title away from the Blackhawks, the Sherwood Park Athletics under youthful Manager Brett McElroy would likely be that club. A well balanced club with an experienced roster, the Athletics snatched their first ever pennant last season and had lofty expectations of going farther. The returning players will have something to prove and are expected to be even hungrier than ever before.
As everyone knows, every club will have the same opportunity come opening day to forge their own destiny. Will there be any surprises by season’s end? Will the final four include a new challenger or will the group remain largely unchanged but for positional designations? The Mets have probably undergone the most significant changes in personnel when compared to last season’s roster. The addition of a few former St. Albert Tigers and an improved pitching core should be enough to power the Mets back into the final four come August.
If the near miss performances of the youthful St. Albert Cardinals over the past two season’s are any indication that they are a club poised and ready to break into the post season, then they should not be ruled out from making their first Series’ appearance since entering the League. The crafty and never say die Red Lions will continue to have something to say about it, however. Despite missing all-star centre fielder Chris Brand for the entire season due to injury, the latter will be taking over management of the club and is counting on the return of former pitching great Carmen Brown to make an impact statement. The Red Lions play a solid defensive game and that will not change significantly this season, although team batting may be challenged.
What about the Primeau’s? Might they emerge from their funk and finally return to the competitive level of old when the club, then called the Indians, called Citadel Park in Legal home? To accomplish a return to the post season, the Primeaus will need a solid commitment from their entire core of starters, one that begins in May and ends in August and not any sooner. The challenge here will be in recruiting good young talent and keeping them around long enough to be developed into solid senior prospects. If the Primeaus can deal effectively with building a cohesive unit in both the infield and outfield, the possibility of making the final four is real. If not, the 2019 season could be another disappointing campaign.
The Edmonton Athletics currently hold the record for being the club with the longest tenure among urban clubs in the NCABL. For the Athletics, recruitment has never been their greatest challenge. They have always managed to fill roster spots and to remain relatively competitive over the years. Will the climb into the post-season be achievable this season? With the emergence of another star pitcher like Mark Trela, that goal would most certainly be more easily reached. Without it, the Athletics should turn to a closer working relationship with the N-E Zone who are currently promoting player development with vigour within their representative program. The current junior team would be a good place to start making inroads which could lead the Athletics back up the competitive ladder and possibly into the post-season at some point.
Predicting the success or lack thereof of a brand new franchise is always more difficult. The Parkland Twins have begun their quest for a future final four challenge in the right way, by forging alliances with Spruce Grove Minor Baseball. The success of their program will largely depend on their recruitment of graduating AAA Midget players from the locality as well as on regional recruitment. They will benefit from a beautiful facility in Henry Singer Park and from the past experience of a few grizzled veterans who once played for the successful Camrose Axemen. But beyond those intangibles, history has taught us that success in the NCABL is not instantaneous nor without the necessary commitment to practice and to skill development. We need only observe the dedication and progression of clubs like the Blackhawks and Sherwood Park Athletics to know that instant success is not a likely outcome. Hard work usually is.
Red Lions Complete Major Facelift
When Keller Field began to show signs of fatigue and aging, current and former Red Lion players did not lament over the fact that political decisions take time nor over whose responsibility it might be to initiate improvements. Players who have donned the Red Lion uniform over the past five decades have a proud tradition of meeting such challenges head on. The Rotarians had supported park renovations in 2017, the 50th anniversary year, through a grant they had obtained which was largely spent upgrading and beautifying the grandstand. With leftover funds falling well short of what was needed to replace the entire outfield fence, players and their families, both active and retired, came forward to spearhead the project to its conclusion. Local businesses, proud supporters of Red Lion baseball, were approached for additional funds and inkind materials and gave generously to the cause. A local baseball family offered a sizeable donation and asked for anonymity. The current coaching staff comprised of Chris and Jordan Brand, and Kevin Watamaniuk with off-field assistance from Chuck Keller organized the labor parties who toiled many hours to see the improvement project through. The finishing touches were not forgotten as the players whose numbers have been retired had their outfield boards replaced with fresh paint. As a parting tribute to the work effort of long time resident and Red Lion alumni Chuck Keller, a new sign towering above the scoreboard was erected. This last finishing touch had to wait until Mr. Keller had left for Europe so as not to face an objection from one of the League’s most noteworthy alumni. Regardless of where Chuck Keller may be in the years to come, he will always remain at the ballpark which bears his name and is an ongoing witness to the dedication and pride of all who have worn the uniform. Welcome to “Keller Field, Home of the Red Lions”.
Players Voted to 2019 NCABL All-Star Club
Jiffy Lube All-Star Club for 2019 (click here for roster)
Beverly Optimist All-Star Club for 2019 (click here for roster)
The Morinville Jiffy Lube All-Stars will be the home club for the 2019 All-Star Game to be held at Remax Field on Sunday, July 21st. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm. The Jiffy Lube All-Stars will be represented by the Sherwood Park Athletics, Westlock Red Lions, Stony Plain Mets, and Edmonton Athletics. Six of the ten voted all stars will be suited up for the Jiffy Lube All-Stars this year. The Sherwood Park Athletics who are currently leading in the pennant race have placed three players on the honour role including Mike Falkins, a skilled defensive catcher with a .364 batting average, Henry Duke, a heavy hitting third baseman, along with Austin Simper, a sure handed outfielder sporting a .348 batting average and a club leading 12 RBI’s. The Mets placed Lee Worobec and Andrew Slinko on the voted list, the former a pitcher with an ERA of only 1.04 after 27 innings of work for the Mets so far this season. Slinko patrols second base for the Mets and currently leads his club with a .474 batting average. Peter Shepert, a utility player for the Edmonton Athletics is the sixth player representing Jiffy Lube.
The Beverly Optimist All-Stars will be the visiting club in this year’s tilt. They will be represented by the Edmonton Primeaus, St. Albert Cardinals, Edmonton Blackhawks, and Parkland Twins. Two players from the Blackhawks were among those voted to the All-Star Club. They are perennial all-star shortstop Regan Hoet who leads his club with a blistering .455 batting average and Greyson Roth, a reliable outfielder with a steady .333 batting average. The St. Albert Cardinals will be represented by Hayden Chies, a gifted centre fielder with one of the best arms in the League from the outfield and Joe Pasychnyk at first base from the Twins, the 2014 winner of the most promising junior player of the year while playing for the Camrose Axemen.
Brett McElroy of the Sherwood Park Athletics will be the All-Star Manager for Jiffy Lube while Craig Fagnan of the Edmonton Primeaus will be managing for the Beverly Optimist All-Stars. The coaching staff assisting each of these managers will be coming from the respective clubs representing each of these star laden clubs.
|NCABL Voted All-Stars 2019|
|Last Name||First Name|
|Pitcher||Worobec||Lee||Stony Plain Mets|
|Catcher||Falkins||Mike||Sherwood Park Athletics|
|1st Base||Pasychnyk||Joe||Parkland Twins|
|2nd Base||Slinko||Andrew||Stony Plain Mets|
|3rd Base||Duke||Henry||Sherwood Park Athletics|
|Outfield||Chies||Hayden||St. Albert Cardinals|
|Outfield||Simper||Austin||Sherwood Park Athletics|
Regular Season Sizzles as Rain Continues to Interrupt
If mother nature cooperates, an exciting post season tie breaker will be played at Legion Field in St. Albert on Monday, August 12th (7:15 PM). The winner will be declared fourth place finishers and go on to play the pennant champion Sherwood Park Athletics in the LCSFS (A Series) in Westlock on the week-end of August 17th and 18th. This will mark the third time that the Red Lions and Cardinals meet in either a late season game or a post-season elimination game to determine the final post season berth. The Cardinals are hoping that the old adage of third time lucky will mean that they would advance for the first time in their seven year history with the NCABL. The Cardinals will have to shore up their softening defence while exploding with more hits per game if they are to advance to the post season. On another front, the Blackhawks and Primeaus (second vs. third) open their series at Remax Field also on Monday night.(6:30 PM) That Series continues on Tuesday night with Wednesday held over for a rain out on either night. For a complete season ending summary of results in the standings, go to standings on the main page.
Blackhawks On Quest to Capture Western Canada Crown
The Edmonton Blackhawks are focused on two goals at the present time. The first is to emerge victorious from their semi-final series with the Primeaus; the second is to bring home the honour of having won the Western Canada Senior AA Championship. The Blackhawks have enjoyed much success in the NCABL over the past decade having claimed three consecutive pennants from 2014 – 16 and four League Championships in 2013, 2014, 2016, and again last season. The defending League Champions finished second behind the Sherwood Park Athletics this season and continue to present a threat to any opponent. Led by their Manager Randy Gregg, who was awarded the Bob Kootenay Manager of the Year on four occasions by his peers and wily veteran coach Duncan Knoll, the Blackhawks will take to the field in Stonewall, Manitoba, as a club team unlike many other clubs who will be competing as an aggregate of all-stars. The veteran squad will respond to the challenge as they have been groomed to do over their entire NCABL tenure. Former League MVP’s like Kyle Lawrence (2016), Regan Hoet (2015), and Ryan Gregg (2014) know the game and can lead when called upon by Manager Gregg. The supporting cast know their roles and contribute at critical times in a baseball game. The NCABL has not participated in the Western Canada Championship since 2006 and the League has not shown an active interest in Provincial play over the past decade.
The schedule at last posting will see the Blackhawks square off against the Manitoba Provincial Champions on Friday. On Saturday they will play the British Columbia Provincial Champions as well as the host club from Stonewall. On Sunday morning the Blackhawks will complete the round robin against the Saskatchewan Provincial Champions. The Championship final game is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks return to Alberta on Monday and may be playing in the third game of their best of three semi-final series against the Primeaus on Tuesday should that series be extended.
The North Central Alberta Baseball League wishes the Edmonton Blackhawks much success as they prepare for their next baseball experience. Above, the All-Stars enjoy play at Remax Field, home of the Edmonton Blackhawks.
Blackhawks Prove a Point
Baseball in the North Central Alberta Baseball League is alive and well. How can one draw this conclusion after the Blackhawks failed to win a single game while registering four consecutive defeats during the 2019 Western Canada Baseball Championship in Stonewall, Manitoba, last week-end. The answer is simple. The Blackhawks competed as a club team with the same basic roster they have depended upon in regular and post-season NCABL play. Their competition, on the other hand, were all clubs bolstered with several star players from across each competing province or at least from a larger regional base. A quick analysis of each game played will reveal a constant pattern. The Blackhawks fiercely competed in each of those four games, losing them all by an aggregate total of only six runs. In other words, the Blackhawks, our defending League Champions did not embarrass themselves. Far from it. They were in every game, losing two by a single run and two by a pair of runs including one game in extra innings. As Sam Ewanishan, one of the Blackhawk catchers noted, three small yet consistent observations or distinctions could be highlighted. The first was that all pitchers faced were top ten candidates in any League, the second was that no inherent weaknesses could be found in any batting order faced, and the third was that the club rosters faced by the Blackhawks were comprised of large and strong athletes. These three observations are all that is needed to prove another fact, that the Blackhawks were capable of facing this adversity while refusing to bend. Baseball is definitely alive and well in the NCABL.
|Result of games involving the Blackhawks:|
|Oak River Dodgers||9||Blackhawks||7|
|Stonewall Blue Jays||6||Blackhawks||5|
Series B of the LCSFS Produced More High Drama
Series B, a best of three affair pitted the second place Blackhawks against the third place Primeaus in a mid-week series scheduled to accommodate participation by the Blackhawks in the Senior AA Western Canada Baseball Championship. A game by game synopsis follows.
Game #1 @ Remax Field: The Primeaus scored their lone run of the game in the top of the first inning, but that lead was quickly extinguished when the Blackhawks tallied in their half of the inning to take a 3-1 lead. The Blackhawks never looked back as they played solid defensive baseball behind the sure pitching of Kyle Lawrence. Defensive woes plagued the Primeaus throughout the game resulting in a few missed targets on thrown balls. The Primeaus did record a crisp double play to home and back to first which was a highlight play.. The Blackhawks, however, dominated this contest at home. Final score: Blackhawks 9 Primeaus 1
Game #2 @ John Fry: The Primeaus’ fortunes turned around abruptly behind the complete game pitching performance of Kyle Fagnan who allowed only four hits to record the win. His counterpart, Josh Turner, also only allowed four hits while taking the loss. Kyle Fagnan also went 2 for three at the plate for the Primeaus. Final score: Primeaus 2 Blackhawks 1
Game #3 @ Remax Field: The Blackhawks and Primeaus battled hard under a beautiful and warm night sky at Remax on this night. Josh Turner was given a second chance to start for the Blackhawks in this series. Despite a valiant effort from starter Kyle Fagnan and reliever Mike Henry, and despite committing but one error which did not factor in the scoring, the Blackhawks prevailed. The Blackhawk’s jamie Gregg led off the first inning with a hit and scored on a Kevin Stork double to put the Blackhawks ahead. The Primeaus replied in the second witha lead off double by Doug Moms who scored on a hit by Keegan Kwong. The third was scoreless. Greyson Roth led off in the Blackhawk fourth with a triple and later scored on a 6 to 3 put out and RBI from Jamie Wilson. The Primeaus could only manage one more it off starter and and winning pitcher Josh Turner as the Blackhawks punched their ticket into their second consecutive Championship Final Series. Final score: Blackhawks 2 Primeaus 1
Series A, also a best of three series, saw the pennant champion Sherwood Park Athletics square off against the fourth place Westlock Red Lions at Keller Field on August 17th and 18th. A game by game summary follows:
Game #1 @ Keller Field: The Athletics exploded with 24 hits to score 21 runs on their way to a rout of the Red Lions. The Red Lions could only muster 3 fns on five hits. Each club struggled defensively as Sherwood Park was charged with 3 errors and the Red Lions with four. Kevin Dryburgh earned the victory for the Athletics. Final score: Athletics 21 Red Lions 3.
Game #2 @ Keller Field: Keller Field in Westlock Alberta was beautifully groomed and the park glistened with its new outfield fence and recently painted grandstand. The second game in Series A of the LCSFS was viewed by many as a mismatch of epic proportions following the manhandling received by the Red Lions at the hands of a very determined and hungry Athletics team. Grit and pride have always defined the Red Lions throughout their storied existence in the NCABL and today was evidence of that as Carmen Brown held the powerful Athletic bats at bay for five innings as the Red Lions hung on to a 2 – 1 lead. As Brown tired, the Athletic bats began to find holes in the Red Lion infield and outfield. Without two of the three Watamaniuk brothers who had left to purse their college careers, the Red Lions were more vulnerable and their defence, despite a few crisp double plays, was somewhat more challenged. After the Athletics exploded for five runs in the sixth, the Red Lions could do little more than attempt a last gasp comeback scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh before Cody McElroy put out the fire by registering the final out the game. The Athletics sweep. Final score: Athletics 7 Red Lions 4.
Two Powers Meet Again
The upcoming Championship Final Series will not be played at Centennial Park in Sherwood Park but rather at Legion Field in St. Albert. It cannot be easily determined how this unexpected turn of events will play out. Needless to say, the Blackhawks aren’t complaining. The Athletics, younger and with an enviable batting arsenal will be up against a more veteran Blackhawk club with great pitching depth. The Athletics are not without post-season experience, however. They have matured as a club and have earned their position atop the NCABL standings, having twice received the Servus Cup in as many years. They have also played well enough this season to have swept their series with the Blackjhawks, outscoring them by a wide margin. Everyone knows that once a playoff series begins, both clubs are on equal footing, however there is a growing rivalry here that could account for a more intense series. Notwithanding the fact that the new “kid on the block” will definitely be thirsting for its first Championship since joining the NCABL, it is equally certain that a defending League Champion will not be relinquishing the crown without a dogged fight. This series is a must see.
|SATURDAY AUGUST 24 LEGION FIELD ST. ALBERT|
|1:00 PM||Edmonton Blackhawks||Vs.||Sherwood Pk. Athletics|
|3:45 PM On-field Award Presentations: Part Two|
|4:05 PM||Sherwood Pk. Athletics||Vs.||Edmonton Blackhawks|
|SUNDAY AUGUST 25 LEGION FIELD ST. ALBERT|
|2:00 pm||Edmonton Blackhawks||Vs.||Sherwood Pk. Athletics|
|The Sunday game will only be played if the series extends to three games.|
A Battle Royale to Open LCFS
The Blackhawks opened the scoring in the second inning on a Roth sacrifice fly to score Turner but the Athletics were quick to reply in the same inning on a Paden Brenholen home run. This set the stage for a classic battle. The Blackhawks struck next in the fifth scoring two runs on two hits to lead 3-1 going into the sixth. They added another in the sixth on two hits and an Athletic error. With the score 4-1 for the Blackhawks in the bottom of the sixth, the Athletics exploded for four runs on four hits aided by three costly Blackhawk errors to take the lead 5 – 4. Hoet and Ewanishan singled to lead off the seventh and Kevin Stork stepped up to the plate to deliver a two-RBI double giving the Hawks another slender one run lead going into the bottom of the seventh. With two out in the seventh, Darren Reay managed a single and eventually scored to tie the baseball game and to throw it into extra innings. A walk to Brett McElroy followed by a steal of second set up the dramatic finish. With Cody McElroy also on base and with one out, steady catcher Mike Falkins sacrificed to score the winning run in the bottom of the tenth. Final score: Sherwood Park Athletics 7 Edmonton Blackhawks 6.
In game two, starter Josh Turner was replaced by Regan Hoet following an injury to Turner. Hoet went on to out dual Kyle Mazechka for the win. Hoet and Turner gave up the same number of hits as did Mazechka but the Athletics failed to produce the timely hits required to score runs. The Blackhawks scored in the third to take a 1 -0 lead on a walk by Jamie Gregg who scored on an RBI soignée by Hoet. The Athletics battled back in the top of the sixth scoring Brenholen on an RBI double from Austin Simper. The Blackhawks responded with a barrage of hits in the bottom of the sixth with two away. Four hits produced three more runs for the Blackhawks providing them with a victory and forcing a deciding game in the Series. Final Score: Edmonton Blackhawks 4 Sherwood Park Athletics 1.
Sunday August 25 2:00 PM Legion Park St. Albert Admission: $5
Blackhawks Prevail in LCFS
The Sherwood Park Athletics ran into pitching difficulties early in the third and deciding game of the League Championship Final Series and could not mount an effective offensive response against the pitching of Jamie Gregg. This combination of factors resulted in an early Blackhawk lead which grew significantly over the course of the game. A late inning rally by the Athletics only served to salvage a little pride as the pennant champions bowed to the Blackhawks for the second straight year. Final score: Edmonton Blackhawks 11
Sherwood Park Athletics 4. Series results: Blackhawks win the LCFS 2 games to 1.
Look to the website over the next week for more extensive coverage of NCABL news.
League Franchises Change Under Covid-19
The North Central Alberta Baseball League has already suspended the official start of the 2020 regular season. The May 10th openers have given way to the possibility of an abbreviated regular season with a projected opening day of June 14th. Uncertainty over this later start still looms large as the corona virus continues to worry authorities due to the growing number of cases in Alberta. Despite these uncertainties, the NCABL has unveiled a three pronged strategic plan in the hope of salvaging the season. With the first of these options now behind them, the League has its hopes hinging on two possible starting dates. Should the League not deem the June 14th date to be a viable opening date, a third and final option would have the League begin the regular season on or about July 15th. Should the League proceed with the third option, regular season play would extend until the end of August with the post-season running into the first half of September. Commissioner Riopel does not see an August start to the regular season as a viable last choice for the League. “Our 53rd consecutive season is definitely under viral attack”, he mused.
In other major news from League Office, it was learned that rivalries were about to change within the League with the departure of the reigning League Champion Edmonton Blackhawks. Adding the sudden departure this Spring of the Stony Plain Mets, who were hoping to retool for the 2020 season, will spell new opportunities for those returning franchises who have not yet tasted postseason success. The Sherwood Park Athletics will be denied a third opportunity to dethrone their rivals, the Blackhawks; while the St. Albert Cardinals might not have to jump over their nemesis, the Red Lions, to reach the post season for the first time. Despite the impending threat from a long lasting pandemic, seven clubs have registered for the 2020 campaign. The returnees include the Edmonton Athletics, Edmonton Primeaus, Parkland Twins, St. Albert Cardinals, Sherwood Park Athletics, and Westlock Red Lions. The Fort Saskatchewan Reds, a new entry, will bring the total number of franchises to seven. With or without a regular season, the above clubs will be officially registered as members of the North Central Alberta Baseball League for the 2020 season.
NCABL Projected to House Junior AAA Dream Team
The St. Albert Minor Baseball Association (SAMBA) has long been producing players of high calibre through its tiered developmental system. Recent successes at the Midget AAA level have left SAMBA with an enviable problem of where to place these players after graduation such as to provide the organization with the best possible scenario for retaining them both in the game of baseball as well as on clubs which will properly develop them. Without an existing high profile junior league in which to play and with an overly crowded St. Albert Tiger roster, SAMBA is taking a giant leap forward in conjunction with the NCABL by establishing its own collegiate farm system. Graduating Midget players with existing ties to American schools or who simply wish to further their development in a highly immersed summer program with skilled coaching can apply to play on this club which will debut in the NCABL in the spring of 2021. The club, sponsored by SAMBA, will not be the first junior or collegiate club the NCABL has accommodated in its 53 year history. One of Alberta’s strongest collegiate clubs ever assembled and managed by Ray Brown found the NCABL to be the perfect league in which to hone player skills, providing them with a varied schedule, reduced travel and a well organized framework. Most of the players from the Morinville Pioneers went on to play for the St. Albert Tigers where they continued to dominate at the local level and excel at the national level. SAMBA is taking a courageous step which has been long awaited as the only one which can restore a successful future for senior baseball in St. Albert. The NCABL is looking forward to the partnership and will offer its invaluable experience to ensure the success of this recently announced program. According to SAMBA President Kurtus Millar, this junior aged club will also be entered into a few elite tournaments in Western Canada so as to challenge them even further. The NCABL is projecting a return to a normal season in 2021 with a minimum of eight franchises competing.