The St. Albert Minor Baseball Association’s annual Early Bird Tournament was cancelled due to rain on the weekend.
The call to cancel the tournament was made early Friday morning.
The tournament would have acted as a way for teams to experience game-play early in the season. For most teams, the tournament is always a fun event that gives them an opportunity to play at home. This year’s tournament would have included 48 teams.
“It’s basically just competition. It’s early in the year so we want the kids to have more games,” said Kurtus Millar, president of the St. Albert Minor Baseball Association and the tournament co-ordinator.
The cancellation came as a great disappointment to the association. Millar says they had to make the call early due to the fact that many teams would have been travelling long distances for the tournament. Meadowview Diamonds, which would have been used in the tournament, was submerged in water, making it clear that the decision had to be made. The great deal of time and money that went into planning the tournament made the cancellation even tougher to swallow for those involved.
It was a tough blow for all Cardinals teams. The absence of the tournament put a huge damper on the schedule of the midget AA Cardinals Red. The team was last year’s provincial champions and the U18 Western Canadian silver medallists. This weekend, the team will be participating in a tournament in Mississauga, Ont. The Early Bird Tournament was supposed to prepare them for the high level of competition they will be facing.
“We were extremely looking forward to it as kind of our first step to our season,” said coach Jason Enright.
He said that this is the first time the tournament has been cancelled due to weather in his time with the Cardinals. The midget AA Cardinals Red have won the tournament two years in a row. Enright said many of the players were looking forward to having the opportunity to win for a third time in a row. Enright coached many of the players in bantam when they won the tournament as well.
“For some of them it would have been their fourth year, potentially, in a row to have that chance to win which is, in my memory anyways, a very rare accomplishment, if it had been accomplished at all by players to win three or four years in a row,” said Enright.
As his team is the reigning provincial champion, Enright has noticed that teams have been bringing their best efforts to the plate during games. He said they often bring out their best starting pitchers. The team was looking forward to facing the tough competition at home.
“That’s a good test for us knowing that we are getting the best pitching from the other team when they go to challenge us to see where they’re at as well,” said Enright.
Although cancelling the tournament is a great disappointment for the entire association, Enright stresses the fact that they take pride in the conditions of their diamonds. Pushing to play on the wet fields on the weekend could have had bad repercussions regarding the state of the diamonds for the rest of the season. Even though they didn’t get the game practice that the tournament would have provided, Enright says his team is looking forward to their time in Ontario.