U15 Aces win, U17 Blaze comeback fails at the start of the Shaye Amundson Memorial Tournament in Prince Albert


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

Weather was the dominant topic as softball teams from across North Central Saskatchewan met in Prince Albert on Friday for the annual Shaye Amundson Memorial Tournament.

Environment Canada recorded wind gusts of up to 45 km/h when teams in the U11 to U17 divisions competed at Prime Ministers Park. Tournament coordinator Curtis Bradbury said the wind was better than the alternative.

“In this weather, we prefer the wind to the rain,” Bradbury said with a laugh. “The girls have to be prepared and ready to play.”

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

“I said before the game started that the wind would be the same for everyone,” he said. “It's not different for anyone (and) they handled it well. A few balls got moving, but we were able to cover each other, so it was good.”

The U17 Lakeland Blaze narrowly missed out on their tournament opener, losing 7-6 to the Saskatoon Selects. Like Bradbury, Blaze coach Scott Reid said everyone has to adapt to the wind.

“I think you just have to try to keep things simple, never give up and stick with it until the end,” Reid said. “Then you have to communicate and talk a lot and then of course always be careful and always expect the unexpected when the ball goes flying like that.”

Both teams played against each other again on Friday at 9 p.m. The results of these games were not available at the time of going to press.

Prior to Friday night's game, the Prince Albert Aces retired Shaye Amundson's number for all Aces age groups. For full coverage of the ceremony, see Tuesday's Daily Herald.

Saskatoon 7 Lakeland 6

The Lakeland Blaze kept the Saskatoon Raiders' hitters quiet for most of the game in the tournament opener on Friday, but when they scored, they did so in droves.

The Raiders scored four runs in the fourth inning, one run in the fifth and two runs in the sixth inning to secure a 7-6 victory in the first game of the U17 division.

Blaze coach Scott Reid said he was pleased with his team's performance despite the fourth-inning setback.

“I thought we did a good job,” Reid said. “Other than one big inning, we kept them in check for the most part, but they hit the ball, so you have to give them credit, too.”

“I thought our defense was really solid today, especially with 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, which includes players from the Prince Albert, Melfort and Tisdale areas, was leading 1-0 in the fourth when Saskatoon added four runs to extend the lead.

Lakeland rebounded with a run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth, but Saskatoon matched that performance each time in the following half-inning.

The Blaze scored two runs in the seventh inning but were unable to tie the game.

“In the end, we just didn't quite have enough, but we had the decisive run on second base and the chance to win the game.”

The Blaze are back in action on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. when they face the Regina Saints.

Aces 10 Saskatoon 8

Both clubs' bats were hot as the Prince Albert U15 Aces began their tournament with a 10-8 victory in four innings over the Saskatoon Raiders.

The two clubs entered the fourth inning with Prince Albert leading 4-2 before the Aces scored six runs in the first half of the inning. The Raiders responded with six runs of their own in the bottom half, but it wasn't enough to win.

The Aces have been unable to take the field for most of the spring due to inclement weather, so head coach Curtis Bradbury said the early win was good for them.

“With the weather we had at the beginning of the season, we didn't have many games, so this was our first real tournament game of the year and it worked out well,” he said. “We're definitely happy to have won.”

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

“I was very pleased for the first game of the tournament,” said Curtis. “We had a good start, had a little lull in the middle of the game, but we finished strong, which is important.”

The U15 Aces will be back on the field at 3pm on Saturday to take on the Sherwood Park Storm.