Cochrane Crush Minor and Major teams capped off their summer season by winning two coveted Little League championships.
Major Crush Win Prairie Championship Here
Here at home, the Crush Major team beat the odds by coming back in the semifinals to beat Regina, 14-13, with a nine-run hitting rally in the final inning of the semifinals of the Prairie Little League Championship for Major 'AA' Tier 2.
They capped off their undefeated record with a 12-0 mercy-rule win over the Brooks Bombers in the fourth inning of the final, Aug. 6.
Head coach Brian Alford praises his assistant coaches Blake Morris and Mike Kerr for what they have brought to the team. The Crush dedicated the majority of their practice time to hitting and it paid off.
"These two outstanding hitting coaches were responsible for the team reaching its goals," says Alford. "A lot of players at this age go up to the plate looking for a walk. Mike and Blake got our hitters going to bat with one thought, “see the ball, hit the ball!”
Blake Morris has coached minor ball here for about 10 years and says he's impressed with the determination of this team, especially in the miraculous win over Regina.
"They all came together as one. Every game has its struggles but these kids fought tough and nails, they never gave up. The heart that those kids had, to struggle through a 12-1 deficit. You only see that kind of comeback in slo-pitch. "
"They wanted to win this championship. We came in second last year and they didn't want to come second again."
Assistant coach Mike Kerr says the team's worked hard and had fun doing it.
"So many practices have been put in all year and they're learning that hard work pays off. To me that's the big thing, they're learning something while having fun."
For players like Brendan Maguire, the victory was sweet.
"It was a great weekend to be part of. It was a real team effort. Everyone was hitting home runs, hitting doubles and there was great fielding. Yesterday was an amazing comeback and just to be in the final and win was amazing."
His sister Maeve was also thrilled with the win but her heart goes out to Regina.
"It was good to win against Regina but I felt bad for them because they had an 11-run lead before we had a comeback and their pitcher got hurt. It was good for us, but not good for them."
Cochrane was asked to host the tournament and Sasha Pike volunteered to coordinate the tournament.
"The parents completely stepped up. It ran smoothly from my end of things. It's a lot of work and I'd do it again. I enjoyed meeting the teams from out of town, there are some great coaches and great kids. I think overall it was a huge success."
During the banner presentation, Crush assistant coach Mike Kerr expressed his thanks to Pike for organizing the event.
"All these tournaments happen because somebody has put a lot of work in before anybody gets here," says Kerr. "It's hours of time just to organize the volunteers who come to help out of the field. But it's also putting in the commitment and making sure things like the tournament boards are all done and everything is done professionally so that when it comes time for teams to play they don't have to worry about anything but playing."
He also praises the support they have received to help make it possible to continue to grow the sport here in Cochrane.
"A lot of it is the support we get for everything from equipment to fields, to the good umpiring that we've had this year. We've had a lot of young kids that are learning how to ump and stick with the game. It just grows the game and as it grows it gets better."
Medicine Hat 1 won the bronze medal.
Cochrane also hosted the Tier 3 championship that saw Calgary Northwest overcome Airdrie, 6-3. Bow Ridge won the bronze medal.
Minor Crush Win in Medicine Hat
During the regular season, the Crush Minor Tier 1 team lost to only one team -- Foothills.
The Alberta/Prairie Little League Championship came down to a final matchup of these same two teams and this time the underdog Crush came out on top when it mattered the most.
The Crush went undefeated through their three games in the round-robin against Calgary's Rocky Mountain Little League, Airdrie and Medicine Hat.
They doubled Southwest Lethbridge, 10-5, in the semifinals to earn a berth against their Foothill rivals where they came out on top, 7-4.
"We kind of figured that's how it would play out," says Crush Minors head coach Corey O'How, who's also minor ball president. "Our kids came to play. They really stepped up and our two pitchers threw a good game."
Foothills had their number in all four of their previous meetings but the Crush coaching staff told their players the day would come when they get the 'W.'
"That's what we kept telling the kids, win when it matters. This is when it mattered and they played a great game."
The crowds in Medicine Hat were solid for the games and it was especially large for the final, says O'How.
"We had a pretty good contingent. The last game It was pretty loud. We had a lot of people cheering for us, not only our parents but a few other teams were cheering for us, too. So it was good, it was a lot of fun."
"It was a great summer season for both of our teams, We had already heard when we went to play yesterday that the Majors had won so I think that gave our kids a little motivation to step up and do the same thing."
It's the second consecutive year the Crush Minor team has won a championship and played at a higher tier this time around.
They've also received some great feedback from the Majors tournaments hosted in Cochrane over the weekend, says O'How.
"We got some really good feedback from all the teams on the job Sasha and Majors team parents did. It turned out really well. People in Cochrane always seem to step up and do a good job when they're needed."
It's only the second year Cochrane Minor Ball has offered summer ball and it's proving to be a success.
"The program seems to be working and that's the best part."
"There's a lot of talent in our baseball program and it's fun to watch and fun to watch kids develop. As they get older it's only going to get more exciting."
Now the association gets a bit of downtime before they start their fall/winter training program.