U15 Aces win, U17 Blaze rally falls short as Shaye Amundson Memorial Tournament begins in Prince Albert

The Prince Albert U15 Aces get a post-game pep-talk from coach Curtis Bradbury following their 10-8 win to open the Shaye Amundson Memorial Tournament. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The weather was the story as softball teams from across North Central Saskatchewan gathered for the annual Shaye Amundson Memorial Tournament in Prince Albert on Friday.

Environment Canada recorded winds gusting up to 45 km/hr as teams from the U11 to U17 division took the field at Prime Ministers Park. Tournament coordinator Curtis Bradbury said the wind was better than the alternative.

“The way the weather has been, we’ll take the wind over the rain,” Bradbury said with a laugh. “The girls, they have to be prepared, ready to play.”

Bradbury also coaches the Prince Albert U15 Aces, who emerged with a 10-8 win over the Saskatoon Raiders in their opening game. Bradbury said the wind was a factor, but one every club has to deal with.

“The thing that I talked about before the game started is the wind’s going to be the same for everyone,” he said. “It’s not different for any one person (and) they handled it well. There were a few balls that got moving on us, but we were able to cover for each other, so it was good.”

The U17 Lakeland Blaze fell just short in their tournament opener, losing 7-6 to the Saskatoon Selects. Like Bradbury, Blaze coach Scott Reid said the wind was something everyone has to adapt to.

“I think it’s just trying to keep things simple, never giving up on a ball and staying with it all the way through,” Reid said. “Then (it’s) lots of communication and talking amongst each other and then of course, always covering and always expecting the unexpected when the ball is sailing like that.”

Both teams played again at 9 p.m. on Friday. Results from those games were not available by deadline.

Prior to the Friday night game, the Prince Albert Aces retired Shaye Amundson’s number across all Aces age groups. For a full story on the ceremony, please see Tuesday’s Daily Herald

Saskatoon 7 Lakeland 6

The Lakeland Blaze kept the Saskatoon Raiders bats silent for most of the game in Friday’s tournament opener, but when they did score they scored in bunches.

The Raiders put up a four-run fourth inning, along with one run in the fifth and two runs in the sixth to secure a 7-6 victory in the first game of the U17 Division.

Blaze coach Scott Reid said he was happy with how his team played, despite the fourth inning setback.

“I thought we did a good job,” Reid said. “(We) held them for the most part, other than one big inning, but they hit the ball so give them credit too.

“I thought our defence was really solid there today, especially in the wind playing some tricks on us out there, and our pitching was pretty good overall,” he added. “It was a pretty good game.”

The Lakeland team is made up of players from the Prince Albert, Melfort, and Tisdale areas. They led 1-0 in the fourth, when Saskatoon blew the came open with four runs.

Lakeland rebounded with one run in the bottom of the fourth, and two more in the bottom of the fifth, but Saskatoon matched that output in the next half-inning every time.

The Blaze pushed two runs across the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but weren’t able to tie things up.

“We just came up a little short at the end there, but had the winning run sitting at second base and had an opportunity to win it.”

The Blaze are back in action at 3 p.m. on Saturday when they take on the Regina Saints.

Aces 10 Saskatoon 8

The bats were hot for both clubs as the Prince Albert U15 Aces started their tournament with a 10-8 win in four innings over the Saskatoon Raiders.

The two clubs entered the fourth with Prince Albert leading 4-2 before the Aces piled on six runs in the top half of the inning. The Raiders responded with six of their own in the bottom half, but that wasn’t enough to earn the win.

Bad weather has kept the Aces off the field for most of the spring, so head coach Curtis Bradbury said it was good to an early win.

‘’We haven’t had many games with the way the weather has been to start off the ball season, so this was our first actual tournament game this year and it worked out well,” he said. “We’re happy to get the W for sure.”

Cailyn Bradbury led the way for the Aces with a double and a triple and four RBIs, while pitcher Shaye Woolley stuck out four batters in 3.2 innings. Avie Kovitch came on in relief in the fourth and struck out the only batter she faced.

“For the first game of the tournament I was very happy,” Curtis said. “We got off to a good start, (had) a bit of lull towards the middle of the game, but we finished off strong which is important.”

The U15 Aces are back on the field at 3 p.m. on Saturday to face the Sherwood Park Storm.