by Ryan Strain
This past summer has been one of the best on record with great weather, the Old Airport Road flag girl and some great fastball played at the ol’ Tommy Forrest Ball Yard. It seems like only yesterday teams were shuffling players and warming up in May for what was to come.
The pre-season rankings have held true for the most part. Slades Fire Protection came out swinging, losing their only game before Territorials in mid-July to a player ineligibility disqualification. The Home Building Center Diamondbacks won the Territorials defeating Hay River after holding on to beat Slades in the semis. Here are a few blurbs, and a re-ranking of the teams as we head into the playoff tournament this weekend starting Thursday August 18 at Tommy Forrest and ending up on Sunday afternoon.
1. Home Building Center Diamondbacks
Team re-cap – Chris Kelln stood in on the mound while pitchers Bruce Waugh and Mike Auge held out for more cake, and kept this team afloat for the first few weeks of the season. Role players like Tyler Blewett , Russ Robertson and Jared Macneil have all contributed at various times. Sean Fowler has been a non-factor.
Keys to winning – With Mike Auge (knighted as Sir Rugglington) and Bruce Waugh manning the strip they can keep hitters honest and their line-up 1-5 can produce runs. Getting their best team on the field is always an issue but expect that they will this weekend. As defending Territorial and league champs they should be recognized as the favourites.
2. Slades Fire Protection
Team recap – Slades once again put up big numbers to beat all teams during the season. Losing last year’s league championship semis to the Pirates and this year’s Territorial semis to the Diamondbacks has left them watching the past two dances leaning against the proverbial gym wall while two other teams straddled their dates to Stairway to the Heaven extended remix.
Keys to winning – The Slades team has shown over the past three or four seasons to be feast or famine at the plate. When they slump, they slump as a team and streak as a team. If the bats get cold they need someone to step up and be a spark. It will not be Andy Stewart as he will be on holidays.
3. Sub-Arctic Surveys
Recap- I’m placing the Sub-Arctic team ahead of the Pirates. They put together a few winning streaks and players like Jon Whitford, Rick Morrison and Matt Kennedy found some reserve power that fuelled their run production.
Keys to winning – Sub-Arctic wastes many good outings from Mardie Graham who must get 4-5 outs an inning due to errors and lack of fundamental baseball by the fielders. If the team can reduce their base running errors and keep runners from free loading around the bases, they can be a threat.
4. F.E.D. Tile/Fire Prevention Pirates
Team re-cap – The Pirates have had success against the Diamondbacks this season and last year’s miracle game against Slades must have them believing they can beat anybody.
Keys to winning – Getting their best line-up on the field will be critical and the improved pitching of Darcy Moshenko will need a lift by the fielders who have let him down with shabby fielding. Sport more dangerous hitters than Sub-Arctic but weaker team defence.
5. Nexum/Carl’s Carpet Red Sox
Team re-cap – As a new team the Red Sox played better fundamental ball than some established teams and kept themselves in games. When Jillian Huber and Cynthis Duffy left town Nexum went from the best looking team to the pimpliest and wrinkliest as their mix of leathered vets and bushy tailed teenagers was left to offend the team photographer. A good first season to build on and credit should go to Rob Johnson for getting them back in the league.
Keys to winning – The Red Sox need pitching help, but keeping teams from advancing runners by using cut-offs and knocking down balls can keep them in games. The bunting and stealing game may keep them close but to win in fastball you need some big innings. They have some players who will be looking to make names for themselves in the playoffs.
Finals – Slades 5 Home Building Center 3 (bulletin board material)