Under-12 Aces learn valuable lessons in role as provincial tournament hosts

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Layah Mitchell of the Prince Albert Aces Under-12 team prepares to make during Sunday’s bronze medal against the Saskatoon Lasers at the Softball Saskatchewan Under-12 ‘A’ Girls North championship

This past weekend was a huge one for Softball Saskatchewan as it marked the first time in almost two years that provincial championships were taking place.

For the Prince Albert Under-12 Aces, it was a chance to compete on their home field as the ‘A’ Girls North championships took place at Prime Ministers Park.

“This was the very first time for a lot of our girls to be in a provincial tournament like this, so this was a whole new experience for them,” Aces head coach Kalen Kovitch said.

“Our coaching staff has been to provincials before so we did our best to try and prepare them, but there’s always things that you are getting used to when you are 12 years old and taking part in a big event like this.”

The Aces had a strong weekend at home as they finished first in the pool and qualified for the semifinals.

Unfortunately for the hosts, their tournament would end with back-to-back 5-2 defeats to the Meadow Lake Sox and the Saskatoon Lasers on Sunday afternoon.

“It wasn’t the final result that we wanted but we’re really proud of the way that they competed,” Kovitch said. “For them to play as great as they did after what’s been a wild last couple of years was amazing.

“There were different things that stood out with how they played all tournament. There were games where our pitching was lights out and then there were games where our bats came to life and helped the team out if our pitching was struggling.

“What they were able to do this weekend will do wonders for the girls in the long run. They’ve got the provincial experience under their belt and they know what the competition is going to be like from around the province.”

The Sox would capture the tournament title with an 8-2 win over the Spirit program from Melfort, which was highlighted by an inside the park grand slam from Makenna Dufresne.

“The girls worked hard all weekend and they played for each other in every game,” Sox coach Davin Hildebrand said.

“There were a lot of ups and downs during this tournament but we battled through. There were several really good teams here so we feel fortunate that we could come out on top.”

The last major event for Under-12 girls in the area will be the 2021 North District Showcase, which will be held in Meadow Lake from Aug. 20-22.

“Our district (District 8) will be fielding a team there,” Kovitch said.

“We’re having tryouts on Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Prime Ministers Park and we’re inviting girls that were born in 2009 and 2010 that are from Tisdale, Prince Albert, Nipawin, Shellbrook, Melfort, Hague and Rosthern to come out and join us.”