OLDS — The Olds Spitfires AA Tier 1 15U baseball team didn’t end up winning the provincials, but they and the community did a great job of hosting them, officials say.
The provincials were held Aug. 27-29 at Rotary Athletic Park.
The Spitfires finished with a 2-1 record in their pool and ended up in a three-way tie with the Black Gold 47's (a combination of players from Leduc and Beaumont) and the Barrhead Orioles, but lost a tiebreaker to those same Orioles.
The Stettler Storm won the gold, downing the Black Gold 47's in the final.
Things got off to a tough start for the Spitfires on a rainy Friday night. They were crushed 11-0 by the Black Gold 47’s.
“We kind of had a stinker of a game that night,” head coach Brendon Mix said during an interview.
However, they put that disappointment behind them and rallied to beat Barrhead 7-4 and hammer Chestermere 11-1 on Saturday in five innings.
Then came the tiebreaker.
The Spitfires ended up losing that game 15-5.
That was a tough loss, Mix said.
“We started off well," he said. “We just kind of lost our way a little bit, just couldn’t finish off the game.”
They jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and had the bases loaded, but the Orioles' left fielder made a great catch, and doubled off a Spitfire runner at second base, stifling a chance for more runs.
From there, the game went back and forth before Barrhead pulled away, scoring about eight runs in a couple of innings.
“The bats kind of got quiet on us and we couldn’t get hitting and then they got so much momentum and we couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding,” Mix said, adding for some reason, the Spitfires weren’t able to make some plays they normally can.
That eliminated the Spitfires from further contention.
It was pretty tough for the team to take.
Mix said right afterward, many players were “pretty emotional.”
But he’s proud of the way they regrouped and came back to the park, not only to watch the remainder of the tournament, but also to hang out with each other and even to help clean up after the final was over.
Mix said all in all, the season was a great season for the U15 Spitfires, who finished the season with a 16-9 record.
“They played hard. It just didn’t go our way, but it was a pretty successful season,” he said.
Mix said they learned a lot not only on the diamond but off the field, as well, learning how to take a loss and win graciously.
“They’re better human beings after this year, and us as coaches too,” he said.
Tournament coordinator and 15U Spitfires off-field manager Mike Pieper said the Spitfires did pretty well, given the fact they played against some teams from bigger towns that had a larger pool of talent to draw from.
Pieper said the tournament was a great opportunity to showcase the new Rotary Athletic Park.
“Every team that came here was really blown away by how beautiful this facility is and looking forward to coming back,” he said.
“They were very thankful to Olds for hosting and a hugely successful tournament, which couldn’t happen without the support from the town of Olds, our grand volunteers and our sponsors.”