Royals hope late slide not indicative of 2014
Posted March 27, 2014
The Armena Royals were literally licking their wounds after a disappointing four-game slide to end the 2014 season, including a 2-0 defeat in the opening round series against Leduc.
The team, which surprised everyone out of the gate with a 9-3 record sat just one point away from clinching a first place finish for the first time in “Royals” history. The other Armena first place finishes were during the Axemen years.
All of a sudden a bevy of injuries to five-game winner Ian Sherbaniuk and wily-veterans Wes Wilson and Jason Buzzell, coupled with the absence of Zenan Sherbaniuk and Clark Banack most of the season finally caught up with Boys in Blue.
The team still managed to get hits but couldn’t convert all of a sudden. Dean Prpick, a monster through the first 12 games of the season hit a slide beginning in the last game of the season and continued through the playoffs.
However, the team outhit Leduc once again and had less errors for the second straight playoff series between the two, but Jon Anstey and Steven Pahl found ways through their previous championship experience to get the wins they needed to dispatch the Royals.
It was a tale of two games as the Royals chose to go toe-to-toe with Anstey countering with ace Joel Boettger in game one. Boettger was unable to play as much this year but still gave up just four runs in seven innings. Unfortunately, the Royal offence was shut down to just one run and left another half dozen stranded in scoring position.
Two nights later the wind wreaked havoc on both sides of the ball, but the offence finally struck through. However, Prpick walked nine on the night and Leduc capitalized in the third inning with a pivotal six-run rally after being down 6-4 early.
The season was not a total disappointment, but it was a disappointing end to one that had so much promise. It highly resembled the early years of the modern-day Armena Royals who always got out to fast starts but then slid to the finish.
The team will lose Prpick this season as well as a couple others from 2013. Banack and Boettger will be part-time at best as well as Wilson, which could mean they don’t play if the team has enough players most of the time. Kyle Ellis, who had been with the team since the 2008 rebirth, and was coming into form in 2012 as a possible No. 1 or 2 pitcher in the future has reportedly left Armena for Camrose, where he will certainly get a fresh start in a key role with new player-coach and catcher/friend Sheldon Petryshen now at the helm.
All of this leaves many questions for the Royals in 2014, who have unofficially added some young and old faces to the mix while keeping most of its core, centering around Adam Johnson, the Sherbaniuk brothers, Cole Tomaszewski, Landon Miller, David Ritz and Jason Buzzell. With the snow still melting, there could be more twists and turns to the roster as new co-coaches David Ritz and Adam Johnson try to pick up and improve on where Buzzell and Banack left off.