Aces teams ready for nationals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Kenzie Demers lays down a bunt for the Prince Albert Under-16 Aces during a practice Thursday as the team prepares for next week’s national championship in Winnipeg.

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That’s the approach that the Prince Albert Aces Under-14 and Under 16 girls’ softball teams have taken over the last few weeks as they both prepare to travel to Montreal and Winnipeg respectively to compete at the national championships from Aug. 15-19

“We’re coming off a provincial title last month so you don’t really want to try and change anything,” Under-16 Aces coach Devon Kolosa said. “We’ve had our batters and pitchers go head-to-head with one another in our practices and we’re just taking everything from there before we go to Winnipeg.”

“We’re just sticking with what we’ve done well all year,” Under-14 Aces coach Curtis Olsen added. “We’re a team that plays strong defence and gets the big hits when we need to get runs on the scoreboard. If we do that next week, we should be fine.”

Since winning their provincial championships in July, each Aces club have taken different approaches to preparing for the nationals.

“We had a couple of exhibition games last week with the Twin City Angels (which features players from Martensville and Warman), who will also be at the nationals,” Kolosa said. “In addition to that, we’ve also spent a lot of time working on our fundamentals when it comes to pitching and hitting.”

“Our biggest focus has been in making sure that our girls stay sharp,” Olsen added. “We’ve had a pretty relaxed approach in practice with no exhibition games, but we’ve had some help from the Under-16 team and we’ve also had a couple of mini-games with ourselves to get ready.”

Both lineups have varying experience levels at national tournaments.

Although this will be a new challenge for many of the girls on the Under-14 team, the majority of the Under-16 squad knows what to expect at an event like this.

“If you go back a couple of years we were in the same boat as the U14 team where all of us weren’t aware of what we were getting into,” Kolosa said. “Now the players have a good idea of everything that goes into a national tournament. Although the rosters might be different, many of the teams that we’ve faced in the past will be there once again.”

“We really don’t know what to expect until we get there, but I think that girls are really excited about that,” Olsen said. “It’s obviously a trip into the unknown as we face different teams, so we’re going to really focus on ourselves and play well.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
The Prince Albert Under-14 Aces received a $5,000 donation from Prince Albert Optimist Club treasurer Vince Parker and president Jim Nicholson Thursday ahead of their trip to the nationals in Montreal next week.

Prior to making their trip to Montreal, the Under-14 Aces received a donation of $5,000 from the Prince Albert Optimist Club that will help to offset the costs of attending the event.

“We’re really grateful for them coming through for us, along with the other business that have helped both Aces teams,” Olsen said.