Juniors Sweep Double-Header to Open Canadian Tour
THUNDER BAY – The Junior National Team open its pre-world Canadian tour with a sweep of the Thunder Bay Selects and Chinese Taipei with a 6-2 win in game one and a 8-4 win in game two.
Game one saw Lionel Morrill (Edmonton, AB) hit a walk off grand slam to give the Canadians the win over the Thunder Bay Selects.
The scheduled seven inning game went into extras tied 2-2. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Juniors loaded the bases on two singles, a fielder’s choice and an intentional walk bringing Morrill to the plate. He would promptly deposit the ball over the left-center field fence to the jubilation of the Canadian dugout.
“It was the first time I had ever done that and I’m at a loss for words,” says Morrill. “It was pretty cool.”
The Canadians opened the scoring in the first inning when Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) went deep in straight away center field to give Canada the 1-0 lead.
The Thunder Bay Selects would respond in the third and fourth innings, scoring one run in each frame to jump ahead 2-1.
The Juniors would tie it up in the bottom half of the fourth when Luke Willson (Lasalle, ON) doubled in Lawrie, who reached on an error, to make it 2-2.
Some solid pitching on both sides would keep the game knotted at two until Morrill’s heroics in the bottom of the eighth.
Danny Britton-Foster (Ladysmith, BC) started on the mound for the Canadians and went three strong innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
Benson Merritt (Smithville, ON) followed with two innings of no-hit ball, allowing one run thru a walk and a sacrifice fly. He would walk a pair and strikeout three.
Brandon Petite (Glace Bay, NS) closed things out for Canada throwing three no-hit innings, allowing only two walks in his outing.
In game two, Chinese Taipei got on the board first in the opening frame with a sacrifice fly to put them ahead 1-0.
Canada responded in the third inning when Michael Crouse (Port Moody, BC) came in to score on a ground out.
Then the Juniors broke it open in the fourth inning starting with a lead-off solo home run from Carter Bell (Courtenay, BC) to put Canada ahead 2-1. They would add three more runs in the inning after four consecutive singles, finished off by Ivan Hartle’s (North Vancouver, BC) two-run hit.
In the fifth inning, Lawrie would hit his second homer of the day to lead off the frame and put Canada ahead 6-1.
“Today was a plus day,” says Lawrie. “We swung the bats real well. We picked it up against Chinese Taipei. We weren’t trying to do too much and it was a real good day.”
Chinese Taipei made it interesting in the eighth inning when they would score a pair on Yu-Hsiang Chen’s double, however he would be gunned down at third trying to stretch his hit to a triple for the final out of the inning.
The Canadians would get those runs back in the bottom half of the frame, highlighted by the RBI triple by Morrill who slammed the brakes at third after thinking of a possible inside the park home run.
In the top of the ninth inning and the score at 8-4 with one out, the game was called due to lightning in the area.
“In a lot of ways it was a good day,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton. “We swung the bats well. We got some offensive dimension to our game. We can do some different things offensively. For the first day I was happy.”
The Junior National Team will take the field again on Wednesday, July 16 at 7:30 pm when Canada takes on Chinese Taipei in Thunder Bay.
Women’s Nationals Concludes with Superb Pitching Performances
Sydney, Cape-Breton – The 2008 Senior Women National Championship will be remembered as a classic as Québec faced Ontario in the gold medal game. The two teams set the record for the longest game in the history of this championship by playing a 12-inning ball game that saw Ontario winning the gold medal with a 3-2 win over Québec.
The two starting pitcher, Marie-Josée Tremblay (St-Honoré, Québec) and Kate Psota (Burlington, Ontario, were the outstanding in this game as the Québec pitcher threw 11.6 innings while Psota threw 10 solid innings allowing her to receive the top pitcher award. Ashley Stephenson picked up the win for Team Ontario.
After 10 scoreless innings, Québec took the lead in the top of the 11th inning when Cynthia Forget and Amélie Julien produced 2 runs giving the Québec team a 2-0 lead. Ontario came back in the bottom of the 11th with consecutive hits from Samantha Magalas and Jennifer Gilroy to tie the game. Ashley Stephenson 12th inning single plated the winning run after 3 hours of great baseball.
In the bronze medal game, Alberta defeated Team Québec 2 by the score of 11-6.
Following the gold medal game, the following awards were presented. Kate Psota (Ontario) wasa named top pitcher, Nicole Luchanski (Alberta) top defensive player, Ashley Stephenson (Ontario) top hitter and Jessica Bérubé (Québec 2) was named the most promising player.
As Baseball Canada was also using the event to select its national team for the III World Cup in Japan, the following players have been selected and will regroup on August 16th in Los Angeles before going to Japan.
Karine Gagné (Granby, Québec)
Melanie Harwood (Thornhill, Ontario)
Autumn Mills (London, Ontario)
Nicole Luchanski (Edmonton, Alberta)
Stéphanie Savoie (La Pocatière, Québec)
Louise Harris (Toronto, Ontario)
Melissa Armstrong (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
Meagan Cornellsen (Grande-Prairie, Alberta)
Geneviève Beauchamp (Sherbrooke, Québec)
Ashley Stephenson (Mississauga, Ontario)
Samantha Magalas (Burlington, Ontario)
Martine Nadeau (Québec City, Québec)
Kate Psota (Burlington, Ontario)
Marie-Josée Tremblay (St-Honoré, Québec)
Shelby Gordon (Calgary, Alberta)
Amanda Asay (Prince George, British Columbia)
Meagan Bremner (St.Peters, Nova Scotia)
Mélanie Anctil (St-Hubert, Québec)
André Lachance Ottawa (ON) Head Coach
Jean-François Lacroix Montréal (QC) Pitching Coach
Wayne Parro Brooklin (ON) Coach
Eric Laforest Terrebonne (QC) Coach
Isabelle Higgins Montréal (QC) Coach
Penny Fitzsimmons Saskatoon (SK) Business Manager
Raymonde Fortin Montréal (QC) Athletic Trainer
Mathieu Rochon-Fleury Ottawa (ON) Equipment Manager
Juniors Land in Thunder Bay
THUNDER BAY – The Junior National Team made its way to Thunder Bay, Ontario today to begin its cross-Canada journey on route to Edmonton for the World Junior Baseball Championship beginning July 25.
The Juniors had a loaded first day. After settling in at Lakehead University, the Canadians made their way to the diamond to play a special charity softball game against some NHL stars, to promote the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship that will be in Thunder Bay.
Thunder Bay native and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp was one of the NHL stars to play in the charity softball game and before he became a star in the NHL, he was a ball player in the Thunder Bay region.
“I played until I was 15 years old and then it was either get serious about hockey or get serious about baseball and I chose the hockey route, but I love baseball. I watch it all the time and I like to play it whenever I can,” says Sharp.
The game itself was a fun filled affair; both the Juniors and the NHL stars signed some autographs and took some pictures and created some long lasting memories for fans, as well as themselves.
For someone like Sharp who has a baseball background, it brought back some fond memories from his diamond days.
“We used to go down to Duluth, Minnesota for baseball tournaments in the summer and that was a great time. Just being outside in the summer time when you’re a kid and you’re out of school, that’s probably the best part and having fun with the team.”
But after the festivities, it was down to business. The team held its first practice in what will be a full schedule across Canada prior to the Worlds.
“I like our options. I like our club. I think it’s just a matter of figuring out the right pieces of the puzzle and I think we’ve got the pieces and we’re going to be a complete team,” says JNT Manager Greg Hamilton.
The Juniors will have another practice on Monday and begin their exhibition schedule with a double-header on Tuesday beginning at 4:30 pm with a game against the Thunder Bay All-Stars, followed by a matchup with Chinese Taipei at 7:30 pm.
Baseball Canada Announces 2008 Olympic Team
OTTAWA - Baseball Canada today released its roster of nominated players and staff that will represent Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing August 13-24.
The roster, consisting of 24 players, four coaches and four support staff members, will feature six returning players from the 2004 Olympic team that finished fourth in Athens.
"This is a tremendous time for Baseball Canada and we are very excited about our Olympic team," says Ray Carter, the association's president. "The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of competition and to represent our country this summer is a great honor we hold very dear."
"Selecting this team has been a challenging process, but we're anxious to get going and have high hopes for our team in Beijing," says Greg Hamilton, Baseball Canada's Director of National Teams.
A total of 15 players on the team and the entire coaching staff and three of the four support staff are returning together after participating in last March's Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Taichung, Taiwan, where Canada finished first in the eight-team tournament to claim one of three remaining berths to the Olympics.
This summer's Olympic team will be managed by Terry Puhl, who played 15 seasons in the majors and who led the Canadian team at the 2007 IBAF World Cup in Taipei, Taiwan and the Final Olympic Qualifier team in Taichung, Taiwan.
“We have a very good mix of experience and youth on this ball club,” says Puhl. “The World Cup and Qualifier was a chance to give our younger guys some invaluable international experience and I believe that this team is more than capable of winning a medal.”
Baseball Canada's Olympic team will convene in Toronto on July 28 to begin its Olympic training camp. The team will participate in a golf tournament which will be open to the media at Lionhead Golf & Country Club on July 29 at 8:30 am and will hold a practice open to the media on July 30 at Connorvale Park in Etobicoke from 3:00-6:30 pm.
The Canadian team will then participate in a pre-Olympic exhibition series from August 1-4 in Cary, North Carolina and Durham, North Carolina against the U.S. Olympic Team, followed by a pair of exhibition games against the Netherlands on August 9 and 10 in Beijing in preparation for the Summer Games, which will include the U.S., the Dutch, Cuba, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea in the baseball event.
2008 Olympic Games Schedule
Harden Traded to Cubs
OTTAWA – The Chicago Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Rich Harden of Victoria, BC from the Oakland Athletics in a six player deal.
The Cubs acquired Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Athletics in exchange for Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton and minor leaguer Josh Donaldson.
“I heard it was going to happen. Still it’s always a surprise,” says Harden in an interview with the Associated Press. “It’s a bit of a shock but it will be good. They’ve got a good team and a chance of doing something special.”
So far this season, Harden has posted a 5-1 mark with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts with Oakland. He’s struck out 92 batters in 77.0 innings pitched.
Harden will be joining fellow Canadian Ryan Dempster, a BC native, in the rotation for the Cubs.
By adding Harden to the rotation, the Cubs hope to end their 100 year drought without a World Series championship.
Sydney, NS to Host Women’s Senior Nationals
OTTAWA – Some of the best female baseball players from across the country are about to descend on to Sydney, Nova Scotia for the 2008 Women’s Senior Baseball Championship set to begin on Thursday, July 10 until Sunday, July 13.
This five team tournament (two from Québec, Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia) will also serve as a selection camp for the Baseball Canada Women’s National Team, which will make its way to Matsuyama, Japan for the 2008 Women’s Baseball World Cup.
“People are always surprised at the calibre of baseball that these girls can play,” says Women’s National Team Manager André Lachance.
“The girls play a lot of strategically good baseball,” add Baseball Nova Scotia Executive Director Brad Lawlor, “a lot of small-ball and a lot of smart-ball.”
Sydney, Nova Scotia is considered the birthplace of women’s baseball in the province which, according to Lawlor, should bring out some interest in the community for the tournament.
“Sydney has traditionally been a great host for baseball tournaments in the past and we expect that once people start spreading the word around town that it will bring some pretty big crowds.”
As for Lachance, he says he is looking for players that will help his team improve on their two third place showings in the previous two World Cups.
“We need to sure things up defensively and add some depth on the mound,” says Lachance. “Those are some things that cost us last time and we’re looking to improve on here.”
The girls game keeps getting stronger in Canada and for the doubters of the high calibre of women’s baseball, Lachance always has this to say.
“I always tell those who knock the women’s game to come out and see a game before they dismiss it. After the game, they usually change their mind.”
The girls selected for the Women’s National Team will be announced following the tournament.
Three Canadians Headed to MLB All-Star Game
OTTAWA, ON – For the first time in Major League history, three Canadians have been selected to participate in the MLB All-Star Game, which will take place on July 15 at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs, Russell Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins are the three Canadians who will make their way to New York. Each player is heading to their second All-Star appearance.
Dempster of Gibsons, BC will be making his first All-Star appearance since 2000 when he was a member of the Florida Marlins. The right-handed pitcher in 9-3 so far this season with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts.
“It will be awesome to get back there again,” says Dempster in an interview with MLB.com. “For everything I’ve been through, to make the All-Star team, what a thrill that would be, and at Yankee Stadium with all the festivities. It’ll be one of the greatest All-Star Games ever. It would mean a lot.”
Martin of Chelsea, Québec will be making his second consecutive All-Star appearance after being voted in as a starter the previous year for the National League.
The 25-year-old catcher is hitting .306 with nine home runs, 17 doubles and 42 RBI so far this season.
“I was nervous last year, my first time at an All-Star Game,” admitted Martin to MLB.com. “This year, it’ll be more relaxing and I’ll enjoy it more. I’ve never played at Yankee Stadium and I’m fortunate to there. A lot of guys will never have the opportunity.”
For Morneau, this is also his second consecutive appearance at the All-Star Game after the New Westminster, BC native was voted in as a starter for the American League in 2007.
The 2006 AL MVP is hitting .307 with 12 homers so far this year. His 65 RBI is second in the AL behind Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.
“It’s pretty special, being the last one at Yankee Stadium,” says Morneau to MLB.com. “It was kind of a goal I set at the start of the year, to be playing well enough to be named to that All-Star team. So to get there… is exciting.”
Larry Walker holds the Canadian record for All-Star appearances with five. Ferguson Jenkins and Eric Gagne follow with three appearances each while Jason Bay, Jeff Heath and George Selkirk have each earned two All-Star nods.
Girls’ Baseball Growing in Hammonds Plains
OTTAWA, ON – When people think of women’s baseball, most people think of players like Lauren Bay and Danielle Lawrie who are members of the Canadian Women’s Softball Team. But women’s baseball in Canada is continually growing and there is no better example of that than what is happening in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia.
This small community outside of Halifax has grown the girl’s game at an outstanding rate. In the last year alone, the Hammonds Plains Baseball Association has gone from 36 girls registered to 81. The association was able to put together a girl’s t-ball team, two rookie level teams and two mosquito level teams.
Holly Lapierre, the association’s President, has put it to herself and has worked tirelessly to improve the women’s game in her community.
“Last year I had six girls in mosquito, this year I have 33 and a lot of it is because they would go back to school and tell their friends,” says Lapierre.
When Lapierre took over as the President of the Hammonds Plains association four years ago, there were 186 kids registered. This season that number has grown to 416. A major reason why she has been able to grow her registration numbers in such a fashion is her focus on getting more girls involved in baseball.
“Last year, of the 36 girls we had registered, 22 were at the rookie level. So we decided to make an experimental all-girls team that played with the boys,” says Lapierre. “The girls had such an amazing time and some of the parents came up to me and asked if I would do this again next year and I said ‘why wouldn’t I?’”
“We wanted to make sure however that we gave them a choice,” adds Lapierre. “We didn’t want to tell these girls that they had to play here or they had to play there and a lot of parents contacted me and said thanks for letting my daughter decide.”
Girls make up for nearly 20 percent of registered players in Hammonds Plains while the national average is at approximately 10 percent. Lapierre credits the fact that she gave parents an alternative option.
“You need to have a girls program to keep them involved,” says Lapierre. “If associations don’t say yes we’re going to have a girls program, then you lose people right at registration.”
Lapierre’s emphasis on girls’ baseball in her region can be summed up in the upcoming All-Girls Day in Baseball where they plan on having exhibition games involving all the girls in the Hammonds Plains association as well as clinics, possibly featuring members of the Canadian Women’s National Team.
The girls’ program has also been embraced by the parents just by way of their involvement.
“Usually I give the coaches a gray t-shirt that says coach on the back, but I had a girls’ t-ball team that had hot pink shirts and the coaches insisted that they have the same colour as the girls. So now I have two grown men in hot pink t-shirts along with the girls.”
But the parents’ involvement is more than just matching the girls’ wardrobe, mosquito AAA and pee-wee AAA coaches have offered their services to help with practices and Lapierre has hired two summer students as a resource for parents to work with the girls. The association’s president sees the fruits of her labour on a daily basis.
“Last year we handed out pink A’s hats for the girls and I see them with it all the time. I’ll be at the grocery store and I’ll them with their hat on. Then what will happen is other girls will see that and want to know how to get one and they’ll come and register. I had four girls register late because their friends were telling them what they were doing this summer (playing baseball).”
At the end of the day, it’s all about growing the girls’ game and the Hammonds Plains Baseball Association is setting a fine example for the rest of the country.
Aumont Heading to Futures Game
OTTAWA, ON – Olympic hopeful Phillippe Aumont has added another honor to his already impressive young career, as he has been selected to the World Team for the XM All-Star Futures Game, to be played July 13 at Yankee Stadium in New York as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game festivities.
Aumont, who hails from Gatineau, Québec, has gone 4-4 in his first professional season with a 2.62 ERA in 12 games (6 starts) for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Seattle Mariners’ Class-A affiliate.
“Obviously it’s an honour to be named for such an event,” says Aumont. “I always thought that it was meant more for Double-A and Triple-A players, so this is a big thing for me and I hope I can go there and do well.”
The 6’7”, 220 lbs right-hander stands a strong chance of being named to Baseball Canada’s 2008 Olympic Team, which will be announced in mid-July.
“Not many people can say that they’ve gone to the Olympics. When I was a kid I always thought the Olympics were for runners, but over the last year it’s been on my mind and it would be a dream come true to be a part of the world’s biggest sporting event.”
The All-Star Futures Game will feature two 25-man rosters featuring the top American and international prospects from all 30 Major League organizations.
Baseball Canada Announces Junior Summer Roster & Canadian Tour Schedule
OTTAWA, ON – Baseball Canada announces today the Junior National Team summer roster for the final camp and Canadian tour in preparation for the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton from July 25-August 3.
The 25-man roster for the Canadian tour, which will take place from July 13-23, has no shortage of prospects. Leading the way is Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) who became the highest Canadian position player (fourth player overall) to be selected in the MLB First Year Player Draft. The 18-year-old catcher/infielder was chosen 16th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2008 draft.
“Throughout the year, all of these athletes have proven they can compete at a very high level and that’s why they’ve been invited to this camp,” says Baseball Canada’s Head Coach and Director of National Teams, Greg Hamilton.
The Canadian tour will begin in Thunder Bay, Ontario where Canada will play three exhibition games against Chinese Taipei and a Thunder Bay All-Star team on July 15 and 16.
From there, the Canadians along with Chinese Taipei make there way to Manitoba for three more exhibition games from July 17-19 with two games in Brandon on July 17 and 18 and one in Winnipeg at Can West Global Park on July 19.
The trek west continues for a final exhibition series in the Okotoks in Alberta. Canada and Chinese Taipei will be joined by the United States and the Okotoks Dawgs where Canada will play three games from July 21-23 at Seamon Stadium.
At the end of the tour, the Junior National Team will reduce its roster to 18 for the World Junior Baseball Championship.
“We’re going to have to make some tough decisions to set our final roster for the World Championships, but Canada will be well represented,” elaborates Hamilton.
Canada will be one of 12 countries vying for World Junior supremacy in Edmonton. The last time the Juniors were on top of the podium was in 1991, the only gold medal for Canada in international baseball competition.
“We feel we’re a strong medal contender and we hope to capture the gold on home soil against some of the best baseball nations in the world,” says Hamilton.
For the complete roster and schedules, click on one of the following links:Summer RosterCanadian Tour ScheduleWorld Junior Baseball Championship Schedule