Perfect start for Astros at U19 nationals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Braiden Turner of the Prince Albert U19 Astros connects on a pitch during a game against Argentina ahead of last month's WBSC Junior Men's Softball World Championship.

The Prince Albert U19 Astros are off to an impressive start at the national championships in Napanee, Ont.

After opening up the tournament with wins over the Shellbrook Rangers and Team British Columbia Tuesday, the Astros improved to 3-0 Wednesday with a 5-1 win over the Shallow Lake Sting of Ontario.

Cayden Schmautz was impressive as a pitcher and a hitter for the Astros, as he threw all seven innings and struck out six batters to go along with a three RBI performance on two hits.

On Tuesday night, the Astros were down 4-3 to Team BC after the top of the fifth inning before scoring eight unanswered runs to end the game after six innings.

Landon Couture drove in four runs in the triumph while Troy Preymack had three bits.

In an all Saskatchewan affair to open the tournament, the Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings and held off a comeback attempt from their provincial rival to pick up a 3-2 victory.

Couture had a pair of hits and drove in two runs for the Astros, while Schmautz also contributed to the team’s offensive attack.

Darion Bellegarde-Cote pitched five innings for the victors and struck out four batters.

The Rangers, who feature Canadian national team player Ryan Smith on their roster, received a complete game three strikeout performance on the mound from Drew Wilde in the loss.

The Astros were to have faced Team Quebec Wednesday night, but that game was moved to Thursday morning due to inclement weather.

That contest will mark the start of a tripleheader day for the team as they’ll then face the host Napanee Express and the Chayee Bourras Selects from Newfoundland & Labrador.

The Astros will conclude their round-robin slate with a pair of meetings with Ontario teams Friday as they’ll take on the Chepstow Lang Farms and the Caledonia Athletics.

Mixed results for Aces teams

Meanwhile, the Prince Albert U14 and U16 Aces began their national tournaments Wednesday in Montreal and Winnipeg respectively.

The U14 Aces defeated the White Rock Aces of British Columbia by a score of 4-1 in their lone game of the day, which saw Erin Kirkland drive in a pair of runs.

A successful start wasn’t in the cards for the U16 squad, however, as they suffered a 4-0 loss to the host Winnipeg Terminators and fell 7-5 to Saskatoon Hustlers later in the day.

Carli Cooling had three hits in the loss to the Hustlers, while teammate Olivia Parker drove in a pair of runs.

The U14 team will be back in action Thursday against the Newfoundland Selects and the Brampton Blazers of Ontario.

Their final round-robin games will be against a pair of British Columbia teams on Friday as they’ll take on the Tri-City Titans and the B.C. Thunder.

Meanwhile, the Under-16 squad will face two Alberta squads Thursday as they’ll match up with the Calgary Kaizen and the River City Hornets from Edmonton.

The Aces will conclude their round-robin slate Friday against the Fraser Valley Fusion from British Columbia and the Vaughan Vikings from Ontario.

All three tournaments will wrap up on Sunday.