The Strathmore Reds U13AA team has returned from their provincial championship in Chestermere over the course of the July 29 weekend, as the Alberta Tier 3 champions.
Coach Andy Stender said the team blazed through their round robin games before encountering tough competition in the semi finals.
“We ended up winning both games on Friday, quite handily. I think we won by 10 runs at each one of those. And then on Saturday, we played St. Albert and Sylvan Lake. And those were both very tough games that we were behind in both and had to battle back to win them,” said Stender. “We ended up beating St. Albert, I think it was 11-8, and Sylvan Lake, I think it was 8-6. They were really good games and the boys really showed good determination coming back and prevailing in those games.”
Over the season, Stender said his team had their ups and downs, but when it came to provincials everyone showed up to play their best, something that paid off for them.
Stender described his team’s attitude coming into the provincial tournament as “confident, but nervous.”
“We talked about the way to winning provincials is basically, we need to show up on the weekend. We need our pitchers to pitch well and our bats to be hot and make as few mistakes as we could,” said Stender. “We realized that mistakes are going to happen and errors are going to be made, but if we can minimize that and have good strong backs and good pitching, then we had a really good shot at winning. And that’s pretty much what we got.”
Many of the players on this year’s U13AA team will be moving up to play at the U15 level next season and Stender feels the experience of winning a tournament will serve them well going forward.
He is particularly proud of how his team was able to come together this year, especially seeing as many players were coming in from all over the county.
“We have five players that came in from Langdon. As far as kids directly from town, I believe it was four kids that hadn’t played since before COVID. They basically hadn’t played for a couple of years,” said Stender. “The other kids had played and we kind of threw them all together in the spring there. As the summer developed, we got into a really tight knit group and a good team and kind of had each other’s backs. And so, we kind of just built as the summer went along.”
The Reds took home the provincial title having won all five of their games over the course of the weekend. In the finals, the Reds mercied the St. Albert team with a final score of 10-0.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times