After a wild weekend of action, the Prince Albert Under 19 Astros regained their provincial title in dramatic fashion last Sunday in Saskatoon.
Having finished second a year ago, the Astros regained the U19 ‘A’ Men’s championship with a 13-12 victory over the Delisle Pride in a game that lasted nine innings.
“What stood out for me is how the guys hung in there,” Astros assistant coach Steve Bicknell said. “They never got flustered and they really showed their character in the final game.
“It was a good team effort against Delisle and it was nice to be on the right side of the scoreboard against them as they beat us a couple of times in the past.”
After losing an 11-9 affair to the Pride Friday, the Astros picked up wins Saturday in round-robin games against the Saskatoon Selects and the Shellbrook Rangers.
The Astros would advance to the championship contest with a 5-4 win over the Rangers in the semifinal Sunday.
“That final against Delisle was one of the craziest games that (head coach) Kevin (Preymack) and I have ever been involved in,” Bicknell said.
“It was an emotional roller coaster, as we felt like we had things in the bag at one moment and then we felt like we were going to lose seconds later. It was one of the most draining and rewarding games that we have ever been through.”
In addition to playing in the local men’s league, the Astros also gained some valuable experience ahead of the provincials as they played a touring team from New Zealand in June and matched up with the national sides from Argentina and the Czech Republic ahead of the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship held here earlier this month
“I think that did us a world of good as you only get better by taking on top teams and top competition,” Bicknell said.
“The level of pitching that we faced from those national teams was truly impressive, and I think that will help us get ready for our next major event.”
With another provincial championship in their back pocket, the Astros are now gearing up to compete at the Under 19 ‘A’ Boys’ National Championship in Napanee, Ont. from Aug. 14-19
“We’ve been able to bring in a couple of guys from Saskatoon to help strength our roster, but we’re ready to go to the dance with the same players that brought us here,” Bicknell said.
“We have a strong pitching core and a good fielding team, but the key is to have our bats going right away when we get to nationals. That’s something that has cost us in the past.”