The Prince Albert Astros ended the U16 provincial softball tournament the way they started it—with a win at Rotary Field.
The Astros went undefeated through the round robin, and capped off the weekend with an 11-1 victory over the Saskatoon Longhorns Selects in the championship final on Sunday.
The Astros never trailed all game, putting up three runs in the first inning and another eight in the fourth, capped off by pitcher Jack Hrycuik’s grand slam.
“It was pretty exciting,” Hrycuik said afterwards. “I was just hoping to get a hit, and the ball started to carry. It went over and, man, the rest is just … I don’t even remember the rest.”
“I’m over the moon proud of my boys,” Astros head coach Derek Mitchell added. “Like we talked about last night, it was a two-year process with this team, and for them to come through, it was nice to see.”
Sunday’s final marked the fourth straight win for the Astros, and their second over the Longhorns at Sunday’s tournament. It was a fitting end for a group of players who stuck together after a fourth place finish at U14 provincials in 2019.
“It just shows the progress and how far we’ve come along,” Hrycuik said. “It’s just been a fun, fun ride the whole way.”
The Longhorns entered the game having defeated the Saskatoon Fury 14-10 earlier in the day. However, a few early errors and miscues allowed the Astros to put some early runs on the scoreboard.
CF Jaymon Mitchell reached first on an error and later scored on a passed ball to make it 1-0. Hrycuik walked and scored on an error with Keegan Dansereau, making it 3-0.
“One of the things that we stressed was team speed,” Mitchell said. “I think our speed really catches teams off guard. There were a few errors that Saskatoon made, but a lot of that was pressed by some of our boys and their ability to move around the base paths, putting pressure on (the fielders), and causing a couple of errors. It gave us three runs early, and then it got a little tight there for a while.”
The score remained unchanged until the top of the fourth when Saskatoon knocked in their lone run. RF Jake Kessler doubled and scored on a fielders choice to make it 3-1, but the Astros came roaring back with eight runs in the bottom half of the inning to secure the win.
Sage Roberts reached on an error, and later scored on Meyer Chu’s single to make it 4-1. A series of singles and a walk to Kaden Burgess led to two more runs and loaded the bases for Hrycuik.
With only one out, Hrycuik smashed a pitch over the centrefield fence for a grand slam, making it 10-1. A double from Roberts, and a single from Gaige Epp make it 11-1, ending the game and securing the provincial title.
“It’s something I’m never going to forget, just watching those four boys round the bases,” Mitchell said. “(Seeing) the joy on their faces was great. It was unbelievable.”
The U16 Astros are the third boys team from Prince Albert to win provincials this year. The U12 and U14 Astros also took home gold at provincial tournaments in July.