WESTLOCK – The Westlock Grey Lions hopes for a 2021 Alberta West Central Baseball Association championship came to an abrupt end Aug. 30 at the hands of the Sturgeon Paladins.
The 6-3 Monday-night defeat to the Sturgeon Paladins at Wally Footz Field in Edmonton capped the two-game championship series — the Paladins scored a 9-1 victory in Game 1 played under the lights at the same location Aug. 27.
Player/manager Sheldon McConaghy said although they were able generate offence early in both contests, the Paladins, who won the regular season pennant, played “extremely good defence” and were able to cash in on their opportunities. The clubs last met in the 2019 AWCBA semifinal, which also went to the Paladins 2-0 — the AWCBA, which is comprised of teams with players ages 30-plus, was shuttered last year due to COVID-19.
“We started both games really well and scored runs in the first innings of both and then they just kind of shut us down a bit. They’re a young, good-hitting team and just seemed to tack on runs when they needed them,” said McConaghy. “End of the day they just played a little bit better than we did.”
And although they weren’t able to bring home an AWCBA title, it was a good year for the club. They finished the regular season in second place with an 8-5 record, then routed the St. Albert Cardinals two-straight in the league semifinal series in August.
“But the best part of it was being able to spend time with the guys and just get back on the field and having some fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to do it again next year,” said McConaghy.
For next year McConaghy promises to be back and says the majority of the club, who average in age from their early-to-mid 40s, will also return.
“We’re getting older and a little slower,” he said with a chuckle. “But I think we did pretty well with the team we had and hopefully we’ll have success again next year.”
As for the AWCBA, McConaghy said it’s a good league that continues to grow, while the play on the field has improved year over year.
“We had nine teams this year and we were slated to have 11, but they didn’t play due to COVID. So they very well may be back next year which will make it an 11-team league,” he continued. “And the league is getting stronger throughout. Some of the teams that were at the bottom have really improved. There’s not a lot of rollovers.”