Camrose Looks To Expand Baseball Offerings
Posted August 29, 2019
In 2020, baseball fans in Camrose might be able to add 18U (Midget) AAA and 30+ baseball to the list of Camrose teams to cheer on. It would be another big step forwards for both Camrose Minor Ball and senior men’s baseball in the area if both teams get set up.
The Camrose Cougars U18 AAA would compete in the prestigious Norwest League which falls under the umbrella of Baseball Alberta. The league is province wide, stretching from Okotoks to Fort McMurray and features some of the best U18 players in the province spread out over thirteen teams/associations in 2019. Ballplayers at this level are playing a high level of baseball that sees them play in the area of 40-50 games in a season with additional practice time on top of that number as well. Some graduating players from the U18 AAA league are often looking at post secondary baseball either in Canada or south of the border which could led them to playing in a summer collegiate baseball league as well. Once lofty goals for this age group is now becoming more and more realistic through development of AAA programs.
2019 Norwest Teams: Calgary Bandits, Calgary Cubs, Calgary Dinos Yellow, East Central Bulls (Veteran), Edmonton Padres, Fort McMurray Oil Giants, Northern Lights (Grand Prairie), Okotoks Dawgs, Parkland Twins (Spruce Grove/Stony Plain), Red Deer Braves, St Albert Cardinals, Sherwood Park Athletics and the South Jasper Place Jays (Edmonton).
While Camrose hasn’t had AAA baseball at the U18 level, they have been fielding 15U (Bantam) and 13U (PeeWee) teams at the AAA level over the last few seasons. The Camrose area has been producing AAA ball players with recent players such as Dylan Borman, Spencer Burton, Carter Burton, Chance Wheatley, Joe Pasychnyk, Kyler Charchun, Griffin Lorenz and Carter McDonald all playing 18U AAA in neighbouring associations. The hope now, is that this level of local baseball will keep local athletes playing in their community.
Camrose Minor Ball is currently in the hiring process of a 18U AAA coach and you can find the information on the position on their website.
Catering to the other end of the age spectrum is the possibility of a 30+ team based in Camrose and playing in the Alberta West Central Baseball Association (AWCBA) for the 2020 season. It isn’t a new idea, as the proposal to have a 30+ team has been in the local rumour mill for a number years now. The time might finally be right to add a team in Camrose. The AWCBA is a league reserved for ball players aged 30 and up with a total of ten teams playing in the Edmonton area in the 2019 season. The AWCBA plays throughout the week with a balanced schedule, starting in early May and ending in early August for playoffs. In 2019 the top four teams would play in a A Division Championship which included a best of three semi-finals and a best of three championship final, the middle four teams played in the B Division Championship in the same format as the A division and the bottom two teams are given the opportunity to either play a best of three series amongst themselves or have any interested players be drafted into one of the divisions if a team was going to be short players. Interesting concept to ensure that teams were playing baseball into August.
2019 AWCBA Teams: Edmonton Blues, Edmonton Gray Jays, Edmonton Heat, Fort Saskatchewan Red Sox, St Albert Cardinals, Sherwood Park Ducks, Sherwood Park Pirates, Spruce Grove Eagles, Sturgeon Paladins and Westlock Grey Lions.
Having another men’s league in Camrose is nothing new to the city. With leagues such as the Battle River Baseball League and Powerline Baseball League being the regular leagues in the area, in 2006 the Sunburst League (AAA) had the Camrose Cubs for that lone season and from 2008-2017 the Camrose Axemen played in the North Central Alberta Baseball League (AA). There has always been enough baseball players to populate the teams in the area, especially with some players having the ability to play in multiple leagues.
While the new team is waiting for approval to join the league, which is expected to be announced after an AWCBA meeting on Thursday July 29, there is no news on what the team will be officially known as. They will however not be known as the Camrose Axemen, which will continue to operate in the PBL, but will more than likely feature a handful of former Axemen players from the days in both Armena and Camrose.
What does this mean for the PBL?
The addition of a local AAA program should help leagues like the PBL and local baseball in general moving forward. Much like the current 18U AA program in Camrose has been providing local teams like the Armena Royals, Camrose Axemen, Camrose Roadrunners and Rosalind Athletics with players over the last few seasons. Higher calibre coaching leading a higher calibre baseball program producing high calibre ball players will hopefully trickle down into the grass roots system of Camrose Minor Ball and help develop more quality ball players and coaches for subsequent years. A very exciting endeavour that could also be the spearhead to getting updated facilities in the city of Camrose.
The PBL may feel a little bit of the AWCBA coming into the area. Either a player or two from a current team moving on to the new team in a new league or a player wishing to play in both leagues depending on their schedule. As the PBL has gotten noticeably younger in the last five to eight years, there is a growing number of ball players who are involved with coaching who could no longer commit to a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday league. With travel taken into consideration there is a high likelihood that the AWCBA franchise would be playing on Friday, Saturday and Sundays, both to accommodate player schedules and the field schedule of one suitable diamond in Camrose. It is another opportunity for local ball players to potentially play more baseball, but with travelling to the Edmonton area regularly for games, some players may feel more at home with the PBL. The PBL didn’t suffer numbers wise when the Camrose Axemen left in 2008 for the NCABL, it is hard to imagine it will suffer now.
Rumours were making the rounds in local baseball circles that the Leduc Milleteers had expressed interest in possibly moving into the AWCBA for next season, however those rumours may have proven to been not true as the AWCBA confirmed that they had not yet received any interest from a Leduc based team. Hopefully the PBL will get to see the Leduc Milleteers back on the field in 2020 after what turned out to be a very difficult 2019 season for the former five time champions.
We will try to provide more information on any local developments when they happen as the PBL heads into the final item on the 2019 calendar, the Fall Meeting. No date, time or location has been announced as of yet.