The St. Albert Minor Baseball Association was the big winner at the Baseball Alberta awards banquet Saturday.
SAMBA was recognized as the Large Association of the Year for its growth, organization and compliance with the various levels of Baseball Alberta programming throughout the season.
SAMBA had a better year than the Toronto Blue Jays in large part because of the hundreds of individuals who volunteered thousands of hours throughout the season.
SAMBA was a previous winner in 2013 and 2008.
The President’s Award was presented to SAMBA president Kurtus Millar.
The award honours a board member selected by the president for outstanding service to Baseball Alberta.
Millar, a SAMBA product who played for the junior and senior St. Albert Tigers, was voted in as SAMBA’s president in 2015.
Phyllis Pannebaker (2003) and Phil Young (1985 and 1987) are former SAMBA recipients.
The Midget AA Player of the Year is catcher Jake Enright to cap off his minor baseball career with the St. Albert Cardinals.
Midget AA coaches select the player that has shown good sportsmanship, dedication to the game of baseball and leadership qualities while exemplifying a high level of play on the field.
Nick Arlia, Enright’s teammate on the Cardinals, was the top midget AA player in the province last year.
Mason Libich, a graduate of the midget AA Cardinals, was selected as the Doris Taylor Scholarship recipient of $1,000.
The scholarship is presented for post-secondary studies to an athlete who has demonstrated outstanding academic performance, community service and strong athletic ability as a baseball player with Baseball Alberta.
Libich, a second-year construction engineer at NAIT, joins Jackson Wark (2015) and Luc Riopel (2000) as scholarship winners from SAMBA.
Karen and Jim Poniewozik shared the Volunteers of the Year Award for their work in establishing Challengers Baseball this year at SAMBA.
The program provides opportunities to males and females four to 18 years old with cognitive or physical disabilities to enjoy the benefits of playing baseball. The season runs from early May to the end of June and the one-hour sessions are held every Monday at Legion Memorial Park and SAMBA teams assist with the diamond activities.
The St. Albert Mission U14AA tweens ended their third tournament of the season as silver medallists.
The Mission finished 4-1 at the 32nd annual Wood Tournament after losing Sunday’s final 5-2 to Calgary Blue at Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre. It was 2-0 at the half and the fifth goal was scored into an empty net.
The Mission qualified for their second tournament final with wins of 3-2 against Calgary White, 10-3 against the South Winnipeg Wild, 9-2 against the Central Alberta Sting and 4-0 against Calgary Red.
The winners of the recent Bernadette Price Memorial Tournament in Saskatoon are 16-4-1 overall this season.
The next tournament is in Lacombe in mid-December.
Silver for Wolves
The first 3A provincial medal for the Morinville Wolves in high school men’s volleyball is silver.
At the 2A provincials, the Wolves won the 1981 championship.
Saturday’s gold-medal match in Strathmore ended with the Wolves falling 20-25, 21-25 to the Barrhead Gryphons.
It was the first loss to Barrhead for the Wolves after going 8-0 this year, including the 25-18, 25-22 decision in the North Central zone final Nov. 18 at Morinville Community High School.
Barrhead, last year’s provincial silver medallist, was a wild card entry at the 12-team provincials.
The Wolves also knocked off the Strathcona Christian Academy Eagles, a metro Edmonton division one team and last year’s provincial champions, 22-25, 26-24, 15-11 in the semifinals.
In pool A, the Wolves finished first by sweeping the Strathmore Spartans, St. Martin de Porres Kodiaks, St. Paul Saints and Magrath Zeniths and defeated the Louis St. Laurent Barons, a metro division one team, 25-18, 24-26, 15-5.
The Wolves were 40-8 entering their first provincials since reaching the quarter-finals two years ago as a wild-card team.
The repeat winners of the Lions Western Canadian Challenge had eight returnees from the 2016 team on the roster and will lose four players to graduation.