ESTEVAN - Top young baseball players from Saskatchewan and Western Canada will be in Estevan this summer for high-profile competitions.
Estevan Minor Baseball will host three Baseball Sask. provincial competitions from July 15-17 at Mel Murray Cactus Park. The U11 division will feature games in both the AA and A divisions, while the U15 division will have its AA provincials here.
The Estevan KPC U11 Brewers, who play at the AAA level in the Regina Baseball League, will drop down to play at the AA level for provincials.
As for the U11 A team, it will be comprised of players from Estevan’s house leagues.
The Estevan U15 AA team that will compete at provincials is the one that competes in the Moose Mountain Minor Ball League.
Mel Murray with Estevan Minor Baseball said eight teams are entered in each division, and he is looking forward to watching some great baseball.
“The 11U AAs, they’ll be fighting for a provincial championship. They’re going to be that good, I think,” said Murray. “And the 15U, they’re going to fighting represent Estevan at westerns, so I think it’s going to be some pretty good ball.
“And the 11U A, it just gives those kids the opportunity to play better ball, to step up from house ball, because in house ball, we have five teams of 11U, so we have a pretty good turnout there,” said Murray.
The other big event will be Western Canadians from Aug. 18-21, with Estevan hosting teams in the U13, U15 and U18 AA age groups. The host Estevan Brewers’ entries will be joined by provincial champions from each of the four Western Canadian provinces.
The U18 games will be contested at Lynn Prime Park, while the other two divisions will be at Mel Murray Cactus Park.
“We’ve got three good teams and we’ve got some good coaching in there, and I know the kids are looking forward to it. I’m just glad the coaches got their kids going and got everybody excited about playing.”
In addition to the entertainment value, Murray said the tournaments would also carry a big economic spinoff.
“The restaurants, the hotels and the gas stations, they’re all going to benefit really well. Everybody goes out, so it’s going to help everybody,” said Murray.
Finally, it gives minor ball the chance to showcase its facilities.
“We’ve been working hard with the city,” said Murray. “The city’s been on board with us, and working together to get everything in tip-top shape for us.”
Murray noted Baseball Sask. knew that Estevan could handle hosting events like these, because the city has pulled them off previously. Estevan hosted Western Canadians in 2008 and 2004.
“They approached us to see if we’d be interested, and we took it to the board, and my recommendation was to do it. It would promote baseball in Estevan really well,” said Murray.
He also pointed out that Nadra Williamson, who was the chairperson of the provincial tournaments in Estevan last year, has stepped forward to be the chairperson this year.
“We have a committee ready to go, so we’re pretty excited about it,” said Murray. “Probably the biggest thing we’re excited about is Baseball Sask. approached us.”
When Estevan hosted Western Canadians in the past, minor ball worked hard to make sure the diamonds were up to the necessary standard. When people left the community afterwards, they marvelled that a community the size of Estevan could host such events.