Solid start for U14 Aces at nationals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Erin Kirkland delivers a pitch for the Prince Albert Under 14 Aces during a recent practice at Optimist Field ahead of this week’s Under 14 Canadian Girls’ Fast Pitch Championship in Montreal.

If there were any nerves for the Prince Albert U14 Aces, it hasn’t been apparent so far at the Under 14 Canadian Girls’ Fast Pitch Championship in Montreal.

After two days of round-robin play, the Aces have a 2-1 record heading into a pair of games Friday and are in a good spot to be one of the 12 teams that advance into the playoff round this weekend.

“I was talking to the girls after the games today and if we have a solid day tomorrow we’re in great shape to be in the playoffs,” Aces coach Curtis Olsen said. “We know that we can compete with the top teams here. We just need to play the best that we can on Friday.

“There’s some differences that we have to get used to here on a national stage but the girls have been able to adapt to them, so I’m really happy with how things have gone.”

The Aces started off the tournament with a 4-1 win over the White Rock Aces of British Columbia Wednesday as Erin Kirkland led the way on offence with a pair of runs.

“We started off a little bit slow and White Rock is one of those teams that never quits out there,” Olsen said.

“It was a tough game, but we played well and we were able to get three runs in the fifth inning to pull ahead.

They continued their winning ways Thursday morning as they cruised to a11-0 triumph in five innings over the Newfoundland & Labrador Selects.

“The entire team played a part in that performance,” Olsen said. “We were able to get a lot of runs on the scoreboard and we had Takoda (Morris) and Malayna (Thomas) combine for a one-hitter on the mound, so it was a good way to start off the day.”

Skye Dueck had four hits and drove in four runs for the Aces in the triumph, while teammate Abby Lintick had three runs batted in.

Their run of success came to an end in their second game of the day Thursday as they dropped an 8-1 decision to the Brampton Blazers in five innings.

“The Ontario team is a good one, but as we broke the game down, it was a combination of that led to that result,” Olsen said.

“We made a few errors and we didn’t get our bats going enough, and those are things that will be tough to overcome when you are up against a good team like that.”

A pair of squads from British Columbia will take on the Aces Friday, as they’ll go up against the Tri-City Titans and the B.C. Thunder.

“They are pretty similar to the teams that we’ve played in the past from their province,” Olsen said. “They play hard right from the start and it’s just a matter of making sure that we are playing our game in order to get the win.”

U19 Astros battling for first place

After a tripleheader Thursday, the Prince Albert Astros are in the mix to have the best round-robin record at the Under 19 Canadian Men’s Fast Pitch Championship in Napanee, Ont.

With a 5-1 mark, the Astros will look to enter the playoffs on a high note as they‘ll conclude preliminary play Friday against the Chepstow Lang Farms and the Caledonia Athletics from Ontario.

The Astros posted a pair of wins Tuesday over the Shellbrook Rangers and Team British Columbia, then continued their strong start with a 5-1 win over the Shallow Lake Sting of Ontario Wednesday.

In a game that was pushed back to Thursday morning due to rain, the Astros improved to 4-0 with an 8-1 victory over Team Quebec.

They suffered their first loss of the tournament to the host Napanee Express by a score of 8-2, but bounced back later in the afternoon with a 2-1 triumph over the Chayee Bourras Selects from Newfoundland and Labrador.

U16 Aces enter the win column

In Winnipeg, the Prince Albert U16 Aces earned their first win at the Under 16 Canadian Girls’ Fast Pitch Championship Thursday with a 9-3 triumph over the Calgary Kaizen.

The Aces, who were coming off 4-0 and 7-5 losses to the Smitty’s Terminators of Winnipeg and the Saskatoon Hustlers Wednesday, received three RBI performances from Carli Cooling and Jaden Gaja on their way to the win.

After dropping a 3-2 decision to the River City Hornets from Edmonton Thursday night to fall to 1-3 for the week, the Aces will return to action Friday to take on the Fraser Valley Fusion of British Columbia and the Vaughan Vikings of Ontario.