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U15 Aces win pair to start provincial play

The Prince Albert Aces came to play on Friday, winning a pair of games to kick off the U15 A Girls Provincial Championship.

Prince Albert defeated the Saskatoon Raiders 10-3 in their opening game before knocking off the Southeast Sun Devils 12-4 in their afternoon contest.

Aces head coach Curtis Bradbury says he was pleased with how his team played.

“First game bats and defense were going and the girls played really well. It was an early morning game. It was hot, but we ended up getting the job done pretty quick. We had two pitchers, Avie Kovitch and Shaye Woolley, who pitched fantastic.”

In the afternoon contest, the Aces bats would start out hot, scoring three runs in the first and added single runs in the second and fourth innings.

Southeast would cut the deficit to just one after posting a four run inning in the bottom of the fifth.

After each team was held scoreless in the sixth, Prince Albert exploded for seven runs in the top half of the seventh to invoke the mercy rule.

Bradbury says the Aces got contributions in the win from every player on the roster.

“We started off the game hot with offense and we ended up slumping a little bit in the middle of the game but that happens. The nice thing with the heat, we have 13 girls. Everyone got into the game and then the bats just took over at the end to get us the mercy rule again.”

With 17 teams in the field, the Aces ended up in the Green Pool which is the lone pool of five teams in the tournament. Having to play an extra round robin game before the playoff bracket, Bradbury says it was crucial to start off the tournament with a pair of wins.

“Our goal at the start of the weekend was to at least go 3-1 in Round Robin. To get two right off the first day is huge and if we could get one or two more tomorrow we’ll be playing Sunday so it’s fantastic. Especially with the heat the way it is, we have the bodies, we have 13 girls who are great ballplayers. The more ball, the better. That’s kind of the way that I’ve always looked at it, so keep our game going, get the bats going. Defensively, stay sound, and we’ll be okay.”

The Aces return to action at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning when they take on the Regina Royals Comets.

U11 Royals comeback falls short against Moose Jaw

It was much longer than a typical 11U baseball game.

The Prince Albert Royals were defeated 21-19 by the Moose Jaw Canucks in a game that went eight innings.

Games at the 11U level are typically only six innings, but the game went into a pair of extra innings.

Prince Albert head coach Nathan Noble says the experience was great for his players, despite the final result.

“It was a great start. Playing it in this heat, everyone’s concerned about pitch count and staying hydrated and then we get thrown an extra couple of innings so the boys battled so hard it was awesome to watch.”

At one point in the game, Prince Albert trailed by as many as ten runs but were able to close the game down to three heading into the bottom of the sixth.

After scoring a pair of runs, Prince Albert would tie the game thanks to a double steal. With runners on first and third, the Royals would attempt a steal of second base and with the catcher attempting to throw out the runner, the tying run would cross the plate.

Noble says he was pleased with how the Royals hit the baseball throughout the afternoon.

“They put the ball in play, they got some runs, they kept battling, they didn’t quit, so we’re really proud of these guys today. All the way from top to bottom of the order. Every one of those guys got hits, put the ball in play. We’re very proud of everybody. It was nice to see that. That’s how we stayed in that game.”

After Moose Jaw scored in the top half of the seventh, Prince Albert had the winning run on third base with nobody out.

A pop fly was caught by the Moose Jaw first basemen, the runner from third base would attempt to score the winning run. In a close play and controversial call, the runner was called out and the game continued.

Moose Jaw would score two runs on a single in the top half of the eighth to take the lead that they would not relinquish.

Noble says the Royals as a team weren’t thrilled with the final result, but will regroup for the rest of the weekend.

“They were so emotional right at the end of it. I think we pitched nine guys in that game and it’s a lot of fun. They’re getting used to provincial ball and they’re going to have to battle through a couple tough ones tomorrow now.”

THe 11U Royals return to action at 9 a.m. on Saturday when they take on the Kindersley Royals.

U15 Astros, Aces set to host provincials this weekend

The diamonds at Prime Ministers’ Park will be buzzing this weekend as Prince Albert prepares to host U15 provincials for both boys’ and girls’ softball.

Astros hoping to return to Canadians for second straight year

The Prince Albert Astros will look to punch their ticket to nationals for the second year in a row after hosting the event last year..

Astros head coach Neil Finch says Prince Albert has set that as their goal all season long.

“We’re excited to try to get to Nationals as our goal and that’s our target. There are teams that will be able to get to Nationals and Westerns after the weekend and our goal would be for sure to be going to Nationals after the weekend is over.”

With six teams in the tournament, the Astros will play two games on Friday and two on Saturday in hopes of qualifying for the playoff bracket on Sunday.

With the way the Astros are built as a team, Finch says Prince Albert will need to play well and win low scoring games to find their way into the conversation on Sunday.

“We will have to be playing really good defence and have that clutch hitting when need be. But between those two things, that’s going to help us have success. The thing on top of that is just that mental game and staying emotionally level, which the bigger the stage, the harder that is for athletes. But that’s something we talked about, is just staying emotionally level and making sure that we stay intense but relaxed at the same time.“

The Astros played host to Nationals last season at Prime Ministers’ Park, welcoming teams from across Canada. Prince Albert returns three veterans from that team.

Finch says the trio have been key leaders for a young Astros team all year long.

“We rely on them heavily. They helped with that being intense but relaxed at the same time because they’ve seen that, they’ve been at that stage before and that’s an important piece to our game and we will rely on them as being leaders.”

The Astros begin their provincial championship at 9:00 a.m. on Friday when they take on the Valley Blue Jays.

Aces hoping to come out on top of 17 team field

The Prince Albert Aces are looking to be the top team at the end of the weekend.

Aces head coach Curtis Bradbury says the team is looking forward to their first game on Friday.

“This is the weekend that we prepare for throughout the season, going to exhibition games, going to tournaments. All in anticipation for this weekend, so I think the girls are extremely excited to get going tomorrow morning.”

Prince Albert finds themselves in the Green Pool with the Saskatoon Raiders, Regina Comet Royals, White Butte Storm and Southeast Sun Devils. The top two from each pool will advance to the championship bracket on Sunday.

In order to find themselves competing on Sunday, Bradbury says Prince Albert will need to minimize errors in the field.

“For us it’s just having everything come together (and) having consistency defensively, not making or minimizing our errors and then hopefully our bats are going with the offence. If we could get those two things going in our direction then I think we’ll be successful.”

Bradbury adds that the Aces are lucky to have a tight knit group that should play dividends on the weekend.

“It’s probably our team chemistry. We have 13 girls who have played ball together the last five, six years. They all get along. We have a great parent group. Our pitching was fantastic. We have four solid pitchers. To have four strong arms, especially when they’re going into a weekend like this, where a few things are going to factor in, lots of games, the heat and the dynamics of what may happen during the games, it’s certainly a benefit. But I like the fact that our team is close knit, that’s going to help us in the long run.”

The U15 Aces kick off provincial play at 9:30 a.m. when they take on the Saskatoon Raiders

Predators look to defend PGLL title as final kicks off Saturday

The Prince Albert Predators are looking to put the cherry on top of a historic season.

Prince Albert will travel to Swift Current for Game 1 of the Prairie Gold Lacrosse League (PGLL) on Saturday night in a rematch of the 2023 final. The Predators finished the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record and a goal differential of +161.

Predators head coach Lucas Wells says the team has been looking forward to the matchup for quite some time.

“I can tell they’re all pretty excited. The intensity of practice is starting to ramp up there. Guys are starting to chirp a little bit more at each other, trying to get under each other’s skin. Just the little things that are going to happen in-game. I know the older guys, the guys that were here last year, are very excited to get back to work and get back in the final and try and repeat this year, especially against Swift.”

It’s a new format for the PGLL final in 2024. Instead of a single game, the league has shifted to a best-of-three for the final with the lower seed hosting Game 1. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be hosted by the higher seed.

Wells says the format puts a premium on the first game for Prince Albert.

“I think for us, the most important game is going to be game one in Swift Current. I don’t see any team coming to PA and beating us twice in a row. I think in every playoff series, the first one is the most important one. I think that if you can take that lead back home, it definitely poses a great advantage for us.“

During the regular season, the Swift Current Wolverines posted a 9-3 record and a +40 goal differential. With Swift Current and Prince Albert facing each other in several key matchups in recent years, Wells says the matchup has extra meaning for the Predators.

“Playoffs are a different season. Regular season doesn’t really mean anything if you go undefeated and you don’t win the final game of the year. The guys understand and they know that. It’s going to be embracing the challenge of having everybody gunning for you. Especially Swift, I would consider that our rival team. Us and Swift, especially over the last two, three years. We’ve kind of grown a hatred towards each other and we know we have the target on our back.”

The Predators last played a PGLL game back on June 15 against the Moose Jaw Mustangs. Prince Albert last played on June 30 against the Queen City Kings in a Founders’ Cup play-in game in Regina.

With the long break, Wells says Prince Albert should be able to use their fresh legs to play with pace against Swift Current.

“We have to use our speed. I don’t think that there was a team in the PGLL that was able to match our speed in transition offensively or defensively. I think if we attack with speed and just play our brand (of lacrosse), I think we’ll be fine.”

Game 1 begins at 6 p.m. at S3 Arenas West in Swift Current.

Trio of Raider prospects named to U17 development camp, Howe named to National Junior Team Summer Showcase

There will be plenty of familiar names on display for Hockey Canada over the summer.

A trio of Raider prospects have been named to Canada’s national under-17 development camp in Oakville, Ont. from July 28-24.

All three players that the Raiders selected in the first round of the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft have been invited. Daon Rudolph (first overall), Riley Boychuk (second overall) and Ty Meunier (seventh overall) all earned invitations to the Under-17 Camp.

Rudolph and Boychuk were teammates last season on the Northern Alberta Xtreme (NAX) U18 Prep team. Rudolph registered 59 points in 28 games as a defenceman. Boychuk registered 62 points in 27 games, including 46 assists.

Menier appeared in 35 games for the St. Albert U18 AAA Raiders in the Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL). He registered 27 goals and 26 assists in those games.

Former Minto Tanner Howe will also get a chance to compete for a roster spot on the Canadian World Junior team.

The Regina Pats captain is coming off a campaign where he posted 77 points in 68 games. He was selected 46th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft and has signed an entry level contract with the club.

Raiders to host first ever Raider Run in October

A new event is coming to Prince Albert this fall as the Prince Albert Raiders will host their first ever Raiders Run event in support of the team’s education fund.

Raider business manager Michael Scissons says the team decided to form the event to complement the already existing events schedule in Prince Albert.

“There’s just some incredible events, we thought there was room in the community and in the area for doing another one a little bit later in the year, almost like a fall run. We got a great day on October the 6th, and it’s just a way of promoting the healthy lifestyle and living and celebrating our community and everything that’s great about it.”

Participants in the Raiders run will have the option to sign up for a 2km, 5km or 10 km loop. The Raiders are hosting the event in collaboration with 321 Go Running, a company based out of Saskatoon that organizes other running events including the Saskatoon SPCA Jog and Stroll and Step Up For Mental Health.

Early bird registration will cost $58.50 for the general public and $35 for students ages 6 to 18. It is free for children under five to attend. The event will also feature a 0 km option for those who want to support the event, but not participate in the run.

All members of the Raiders, including staff, players and coaching staff will be full participants in the run.

Scissons says there was a bit of a light hearted exchange with some members of the organization, but they are all looking forward to the event.

“It was kind of funny. I just got a text message from Jeff Truitt saying ‘I wish we were consulted. My knees are already hurting.’ I was joking with them a little bit. The players and coaches and entire staff are excited to participate. I think you’ll see our players probably taking part in the 2K run along with our mascot with the families that sign up. Our guys love being out in the community and being part of it and then you get them doing some active events. They’ll get out there and be as competitive as ever with each other, but at the same time, have fun. The entire organization is looking forward to taking part.”

Whenever a player signs with a WHL team, they sign a Development and Scholarship agreement. For each season spent in the WHL, a player will receive full coverage of tuition, compulsory fees and textbooks. According to the WHL website, more than 405 WHL Scholarships were utilized by alumni during the 2018-19 season.
Scissons says being able to provide the funding for those scholarships is something the Raider organization is proud of doing each and every season.

“It’s one of the flagship projects of the Western Hockey League. Every year you play in the league, you get a year of education and books paid for it. That education and books doesn’t get cheaper through time, and the costs are significant, and so we always look for ways to contribute to that education fund to continue to pay for the schooling of our former players and our alumni. It’s something we’re really excited to be able to do every year, because to see the growth in our individuals as they go out and become part of the workforce and get that trade outside of hockey or while continuing to play hockey is something I think is incredibly important, and so we’re happy to be able to do that.”

Registration for the event is now open online.

New Zealand punches return ticket to Prince Albert with repechage win over Canada

New Zealand will be back in Prince Albert in 2025.

The Black Sox National Team defeated Canada 4-1 in the repechage game in the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Group B qualifier to guarantee a spot in the World Cup Finals next year.

New Zealand lost in the final 6-5 to Argentina, who is ranked number one in the world.

After weather delays caused the first pitch of the repechage game until after 10 p.m.,

New Zealand head coach Thomas Makea says it was good to see the Black Sox stay locked in despite the long day at the ballpark.

“Today was a very long day. I was hoping we were going to get that one in but you know delays happen and that’s part of the sport that we play but really proud of the group to really stay involved in the game. Two tough games there, two tough battles against two great teams so to stay in the fight right to the last inning, last out, amazing for these guys.”

After a wild pitch gave Argentina the go-ahead and deciding run in the final, Makea says he was proud of how New Zealand competed against the top team in the world.

“Argentina’s a very tough side, very good pitching, very good hitting. We knew as a group that we could hang with those guys, but you know, at the end of the day that’s why they’re world number one. They came out on top and got the one that mattered.”

Canada would lead off the game with a bang as Matieu Roy smacked a solo shot to right.

It would turn into a pitcher’s duel from there on out as New Zealand’s Pita Rona and Canada’s Ty Sebastian would trade zeroes until the bottom half of the fourth.

After a walk to Black Sox leadoff man Ben Enoka, Wayne Laulu would tie the game with an RBI single to left.

New Zealand would take the lead for the first time in the bottom of the sixth as Ben Enoka would lead off the frame with a solo shot to right-centre field. Later in the inning, Rhys Evans would single to right off Canadian reliever Justin Schofield to extend the Black Sox lead.

Makea says he was thrilled with the effort he got out of his starter Pita Rona.

“Pita once again was amazing, I don’t actually think he was supposed to go the whole seven innings but he pitched a good four or five (innings) against Canada the other night and came out and just kept getting better and better. On the other side too, Ty Sebastian pitched a hell of a game too. We touched him up in that first game but it was great to see him shut us down for a good five innings there.”

Rona allowed one earned run on three hits over seven innings walking one batter and punching out eight to earn the win. For Canada, Ty Sebastian allowed three earned runs on three hits, with three walks and nine strikeouts over five and a third innings.

If Canada had won, there was no guarantee that New Zealand would’ve been granted a wild card spot into 2025 based on world rankings.

Makea says the guarantee of returning to Prince Albert next year will be huge for the sport back in New Zealand.

“It’s massive for our home fans. We’ve come a long way since 2022, where we didn’t finish that well, but this group of guys here that we’ve brought together have restored a bit of money in the jersey. I’m looking forward to the next 12 months in terms of planning and see where we land.”

Argentina earns top spot in WBSC Group B qualifier

Argentina entered the week as the number one ranked team in the world and proved it in Prince Albert, posting a perfect 6-0 record in WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Group B qualifier action.

Argentina went a perfect 5-0 in round robin play and defeated New Zealand 6-5 in the final to punch their ticket to return to Prince Albert in 2025 for the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Finals.

Argentina head coach Jose Guerrinieri spoke to the Daily Herald after their win over New Zealand with assistance from translator Joan Garcia.

“They’re very happy, very proud.” Guerrinieri said. “They work really hard. They train really hard, so they’re happy that it was fruitful in the end.”

Argentina would take the lead in the bottom half of the first inning as Juan Zara would drive home Teo Migliavacca with a sacrifice fly to deep centre field.

New Zealand would respond in the top half of the fourth inning with four runs. Wayne Laulu would single up the middle. Two batters later, Rhys Evans would tie the game with a double down the left field line.

The next batter Beau Bishop would crush a three-run home run to centre to give New Zealand a 4-1 lead.

Then Mother Nature would play a factor and the game would enter a short rain delay. Coming out of the delay, the Argentina bats would come alive in the bottom of the fourth.

Lucio Retamar would cut the deficit to just one with a two-run home run to centre. A sacrifice fly by Luciano Biondi would knot the score at 4-4 after four innings.

For the second time in the game, the skies would open up and another lengthier weather delay would take place, lasting more than two hours.

After the field was prepared by volunteers, the game would continue. In the bottom of the fifth, Manuel Godoy would score on a wild pitch.

Ben Enoka would tie the game for New Zealand in the top of the sixth inning with a groundout to the shortstop, scoring Rhys Evans.

A wild pitch uncorked by New Zealand reliever Daniel Chapman in the bottom of the sixth would allow Gian Scilacomo to score from third to give Argentina a 6-5 lead heading into the seventh.

Martin Gonzalez would pitch a clean inning to earn the save and secure the win for Argentina.

The game lasted more than six hours thanks to the multiple weather delays.

“It is part of the sport.” Guerrinieri said “They know they have to adapt to whatever circumstances they face. They’ve faced similar situations in the past and they were ready for it.”

In the Group A qualifier that took place in Hermosillo, Mexico last month, Venezuela went undefeated in round robin play before losing out in both the final and repechage game and failed to automatically qualify for 2024 in Prince Albert.

Argentina was successfully able to run the table in the Group B qualifier to book a trip back to Prince Albert next summer.

“It gives them a lot of confidence that they competed well this year.” Guerrinieri said “They understand that this is a difficult sport, a competitive sport and they will be getting ready for next year the same way that they did this year.”

Guerrinierri also said Argentina enjoyed their stay in Prince Albert and are looking forward to returning in 2025.

“They are very thankful, very appreciative of how they’ve been treated here by the people of Prince Albert and they’re very excited that they get to come back and experience it all over again, competing for the title.”

“I’m very proud of these guys”: Canada head coach on WBSC Group B qualifier

It wasn’t the final result Canada was hoping for entering the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Group B qualifier.

Canada has secured an automatic bid into the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Finals in Prince Albert next year thanks to being the host team.

Head coach John Stuart says he was happy with the performance Canada had throughout the week.

“That was a long day. We had a big win against Singapore. We came out flying. Our bats in that game were the best they’d been all week. We got to cash in runners when we have a chance. We have to have better bats and more clutch hits for sure. But overall, young team, a lot of new guys, I’m really happy with how some of the guys came in and how the team bonded and the chemistry. It was a pleasure to be a part of them for sure. But on the same note, looking forward to next year as well with the full availability of our roster as well.”

Canada made the playoff bracket as the third seed finishing with a 3-2 record in round robin play. The Canadians earned a spot in the repechage game thanks to a 8-0 five inning victory over Singapore.

Canada scored early and often in the win. Mathieu Roy started the game off with a solo home run to right. Bryan Abrey scored later in the inning on a wild pitch, Cory Jones had an RBI single to left and a two run home run off the bat of Justin Laskowski had Canada up 5-0 after the first inning.

Canada would add a pair in the second inning thanks to a Blake Hunter two RBI single and one in the fourth with a Jeff Lyons RBI base hit.

Justin Schofield threw a five inning no hitter in the win, he did not issue a walk and struck out 12.

In the repechage game, Canada fell 4-1 to New Zealand. Ty Sebastian was excellent in the pitching circle for Canada, allowing three runs on just three hits, walking three and striking out nine.

Stuart says Sebastian displayed excellent stuff throughout the outing.

“He was unbelievable tonight. His ball was moving. One pitch got away from him, and that was a home run. But other than that, unbelievable performance. He gave us a chance. He gave us an honest chance, and I’m very proud of him. He did an amazing job.”

Despite not having a full complement of players available, Canada was competitive against some of the world’s strongest teams throughout the week.

Stuart says the Group B qualifier was a great experience for Canada, with many players getting their first chance to don the maple leaf on the international stage.

“We firmly believed that going into the game with New Zealand that we were going to win that game. They’re a great club. They’ve got their hitters one through nine and even their bench players are strong. Pita Rona, he pitched two great games against us. Coming up short, if this was our full roster, I’d be very disappointed, but I’m proud of these guys. We won four games and it was a learning experience for these guys. I hope they learned from it and I hope each and every one of them continues to get better and is in the mix for the roster next year.”

With Prince Albert also playing host to the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Finals next year, Stuart says he is looking forward to returning for the event next summer.

“It’s a huge advantage for us with the hometown fans, family and friends and the support we get from the Canadian fans. Prince Albert did an amazing job hosting and I know that next year is going to be special for a lot of teams coming here to see it, so thrilled with what Prince Albert did and absolutely excited to come back next year.”

Canada splits doubleheader in Group B qualifier

Canada has put themselves in control of their own destiny at the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Group B qualifier after recording a doubleheader split on Thursday.

Canada defeated Singapore 7-1 in their first game before falling to the world number one Argentina 2-0 in the nightcap.

In the first game, Canada and Singapore were tied at one after the first inning. Canada would take a one run lead in the fifth inning before scoring five runs in the top half of the seventh inning.

The offensive momentum wouldn’t carry into the night cap for the Canadians.

Canada head coach John Stuart says the bats weren’t where they needed to be against one of the world’s best teams in Argentina.

“We left seven base runners on and that’s not good enough. We got to have good at bats and better performances at the plate. Our pitching was outstanding. It was hard in this heat playing back to back no question about it but that’s what we’re here to do is play ball so I’m not going to use that as an excuse. A couple of mental errors on the base paths cost us in the first inning. We just got to reset and bounce back.”

Huemel Mata was the star of the game for Argentina, shutting out the Canadian bats allowing four hits and two walks while punching out seven hitters on the evening.

Argentina would score first in the bottom of the fourth inning as Juan Zara would drive home Federico Eder with a sacrifice fly to right field. 

In the fifth, Ludislao Malarczuk would double the Argentina lead with an RBI single to right.

Canada took on New Zealand in the night game on Friday, but results were not available as of press time.

Canada takes on Israel at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Prime Ministers’ Park.