The Rosalind Athletics and Armena Royals/Axemen squared off as many times as you could count on one hand between 1999 and 2013 despite being from the same county and separated by just the metropolis of Camrose basically – oh and two leagues. They’ve now faced each other four times in about 365 days and will have two and possibly three more games against each other before year’s end.
When a extremely short-handed Royals squad faced them in Heisler of June 2014, the Royals stayed close but were eventually cast away 7-4 thanks to some slick hitting by Sheldon Pederson and a glossy-eyed Heisler umpire who throws left-handed, but I digress. A month and a half later the Royals found themselves in Rosalind, filling in for a bailing Amisk, and upset the A’s in their home tournament 6-4, this time Rosalind would argue, thanks to a suspicious infield fly as Rosalind was mounting a comeback from 6-0 down in the seventh.
Fast forward a year and all of a sudden another split in the season series has the teams deadlocked 2-2 and in a best-of-three to grab a trophy and send the cup back to Camrose County after Bardo, Leduc and Ryley (That’s how long it’s been) all laid claim the last seven years to the title.
This year’s games featured an 11-inning epic 4-3 finale where the teams both took turns coughing up leads and exchanging runs. Seeing as the first game was so good, the next one took a turn for the worse as Rosalind clobbered a slumping Royals squad at the Homer Dome 10-1.
Pitching: Rosalind has veteran pitchers that may not overpower you all the time, but are “clutch”
Defense: Rosalind‘s experience gives them the edge here. Armena has been up and down all year but it depends who’s in the lineup and who shows up for both.
Hitting: Tie. Both teams have been solid but also experienced a couple dry-runs. Armena had a slight edge in runs but needs to find a way against a veteran team to score more.
Intangibles: Rosalind. Experience in the Battle River League could prove invaluable. The Royals do have Clark Banack and Adam Johnson as well as a few others who had a taste of championship experience in 2012, but will it be enough in 2015?
Although Rosalind is trying to back away from being chosen as the favourites in the series, it’s clear they have more experience. They even have a formal Royal in Josh Burnstad and despite some injuries, they seem to have a lot of depth. The Royals have their share of absences as well. That could be a factor as both Dan Enright and Dean Prpick will miss games. But ultimately as usual pitching remains the big question for these teams. Surprisingly both teams weren’t the defensive leaders in the league, especially Armena.
But here they are. For the first time. In a final. And we will have a new champion – from Camrose County.