As the top junior men’s softball players in the world were competing in Prince Albert over the weekend, two local teams were out achieving provincial glory.
The Prince Albert Aces Under-14 and Under-16 teams captured provincial championships Sunday at tournaments held in Saskatoon and Regina respectively.
It was a perfect weekend for the Aces U14 team, as they went 6-0 and came away with the title with a come from behind 11-8 win over the Moose Jaw Ice.
“This is a very resilient group that always keeps playing no matter what the score is,” Aces coach Curtis Olsen said.
“Moose Jaw was a very solid team when it came to their hitting ability and they had momentum on their side. We got down 6-2 midway through the final, but we had a quick chat with the girls and they were able to respond right away to retake the lead.”
Meanwhile, the U16 Aces had to bounce back from a loss in their first playoff game Sunday.
After going 4-0 in the round-robin to finish first in their pool, they suffered a 7-5 defeat to the Twin City Angels team that features players from Martensville and Warman.
The Aces rebounded with an 18-8 win in the semifinal over the Saskatoon Hustlers before picking up a 15-4 triumph over the Angels in the championship contest.
“The girls looked a little tired in that first game against the Angels and we made a few errors that cost us,” Aces coach Devon Kolosa said.
“I’ve been coaching for awhile now and I know that it’s very rare to go through a tournament like this without losing a game. Luckily we had our bad game then and not in the final, as the girls did a great job of bouncing back.”
In preparation for the provincials, both teams competed in the Girls Prairie Softball League this season and they each came away with championships in their respective divisions.
“I think that really helped us as we got to face some tough competition from Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer along the way,” Olsen said. “We could see our girls getting better and better as the year went along.
“They also got spend time bonding with each other on the trips to games in Alberta, which is something that we noticed right away.”
Next up for both programs are national championships that will take place from Aug. 15-19.
The U14 Aces will travel to Montreal and the U16 Aces will be competing in Winnipeg.
“I’m really excited for the girls to have to chance to compete at a national event,” Olsen said. “They’ve put in a lot of hard to work for this opportunity and we’re going to play hard in every inning.”
“For some of our girls on our team, this is the third time that they’ll be going to the nationals so they have a good idea of what to expect,” Kolosa added. “We know many of the other teams that are going to be there, so we’re going to give it our best and see how it goes.”