UNITY — July will see several provincial events on the Unity ball diamonds, giving ball fans a number of opportunities to cheer for their favourite teams or favourite players.
Softball will be the first action at the diamonds, with the U19 Unity Panthers hosting the BW provincials wherein the winning team will earn a spot at Western Canadian Championships taking place in British Columbia in August.
The pandemic and age category changes initiated by Softball Canada has put a dent in what was formerly known as midget division ball. Coach Kurt Elder said, “In the entire province, between three divisions of provincial events offered, there are only seven U19 teams competing.”
Past players and coaches noted this is vastly different from championship events that used to include pool play to enable a dozen to two dozen teams to compete in one weekend for a provincial title.
Nonetheless, the Unity Panthers are ready. They have seen success in both the GPLS events, games and tournaments they have played in. A combination of experience and chemistry has set the tone for the team’s success, coaches say.
Unity Panthers will host two-team event against the Battleford Bandits July 9-10. Although it will not be the full-scale hype that other provincial softball events have experienced in Unity, the host committee will ensure that everyone at the diamonds will see top-notch softball being played.
The Unity Panthers team includes coaches Denelle L’Heureux, Garan Rewerts, Kurt Elder, Doug Rutley and Pat Risling. Athletes on the team are: Amy Deck, Jaymie Myszczyszyn, Ayranna L’Heureux, Alexis Elder, Addison Rewerts, Abby Rutley, Paige Schultz, Devyn McLean, Makayla Bakken, Amy Gruber and Kalin Harrabek.
Action begins at 11 a.m. July 9 and will continue again with games at 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. If necessary, the teams will continue July 10 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. until a winner is determined in the best-of-five series.
The following weekend, it is baseball’s turn to host.
The 11U Cardinals will host an eight-team event in the AA, Tier 2 C category, July 15-17
Coach, Graeme Gieni, says, “Our team consists primarily of third year 11U players with a sprinkling of second years. No schedule has been set yet, but we will be looking for some volunteers from the community to help with scorekeeping and pitch counting throughout the weekend.”
The provincial weekend will include the Esterhazy Cyclones, Yorkton Cardinals, Muenster Red Sox, Sask. Five Giant Bombers, Saskatoon Brave Bandits, Maidstone Lakers and Meadow Lake Sox.
The hometown Cardinals roster includes coaches Graeme Gieni, Cory Hoffman, Shaun O’Brian and Derek Close. Athletes include Van Gieni, Ryden Hoffman, Dryden O’Brian, Svar Patel, Reid Kiefer, Blake Lewis, Beckett Petovello, Madden Duncan, Liam Close, Kace McCrea and Kody Walz.
A second Unity 11U team will be travelling to Shellbrook for their provincial championships. The two Unity 11U provincial Cardinals baseball teams were decided from tryouts from three 11U league teams.
Unity Junior Cardinals will play in a best-o-five series at the Cards diamond July 22-23 for their chance to earn a provincial title. Draw and teams have not yet been released.
Teams always appreciate home-field advantage when competing for a provincial title, so fans in the stands are a welcome addition to the culmination of their season with hopes of capturing a provincial championship.
Host committees are encouraging people to put fans in the stands to help cheer on the home teams in their respective provincial quests.