BARRHEAD- The Barrhead Orioles U11 Team won the Provincial Tier VI banner on the July 22-24 weekend in Sylvan Lake defeating a squad from Edmonton in the finals.
"It was a team effort," said coach Jason Kramm. "Our entire lineup, from top to bottom, contributed equally to winning the championship."
Barrhead opened the provincial championship five-team tournament on July 22 against Drayton Valley, where they suffered their only defeat, 17-13.
"We didn't get off to a great start," he said. "The kids struggled early on, but as the game went on, we started to generate some offence and we were able to put up eight to ten runs to finish strong."
The next day, the Orioles faced the Camrose Cougars and the host Sylvan Lake Mariners, winning decisively, 22-11 and 14-4.
On July 24, Barrhead defeated the Edmonton Padres 20-4 in their final round-robin matchup.
The win secured first place and a place in the finals, where they faced Edmonton once again. This time, they won 13-8.
Kramm said he was not surprised the squad performed well in the provincial championship tournament, noting they finished the regular season playing well.
In an interview with the Barrhead Leader in early July, Kramm said after getting off to a strong start in May, they struggled a bit in June before regaining their form in July to finish the season, and as a result, they had hoped to move up a tier or two to end the season.
"It is a complicated business, and Baseball Alberta has a lot to consider when moving teams, but we were a bit disappointed," he added.
And although Kramm and the rest of the coaching staff and volunteers were pleased the team was able to end the season on such a high note, he said the most important thing is that the kids not only had a good time but improved.
"Even when we were not playing our best and getting the results we would have wanted, you could see the improvement. From where we were at the start of the season to the end, it is a world of difference," he said.
Kramm noted that the U11 is the first age group where baseball starts to resemble baseball.
"It is when they really learn what is going on, and it is a lot of work for young players," he said. "There are a lot of different plays and positions for them to remember. You try to put the kids in situations where you know they will succeed and then start to move them around to the different positions."
Kramm added the players did a remarkable job learning the skills, positions and how to play them in a short period of time, especially considering they had several players new to baseball.
"It was a great group of kids," he said. "Everyone got along well, and they were very open to coaching, but it was definitely a team effort to get to where we were at the end of the season from the players, coaches and parents. Everyone played a part in our success."