WESTLOCK – After dropping Game 1 of the Alberta West Central Baseball Association (AWCBA) championship series to the Sherwood Park Pirates by a single run, the Westlock Grey Lions reeled off a pair of dominant victories last week to claim their sixth league title and first since 2017.
Under the lights at Wally Footz Field in Edmonton Aug. 31, the club capped the series with a 7-4 win over the Pirates — the best-of-three opened with the Pirates scoring a 5-4 victory Aug. 20 at Keller Field, while rainouts forced Game 2 to be delayed until Aug. 29 at Wally Footz Field, a contest the Grey Lions won handily 8-4.
Player/manager Sheldon McConaghy said Sept. 1 this title will be cherished considering the fact they had lost the last two league finals, plus the 2019 league semifinal series, to the Sturgeon Paladins who were knocked out of the playoffs by the Pirates. To get to the final, the Grey Lions swept the Edmonton Heat by scores of 9-7 and 16-10, with McConaghy making no secret that “we really wanted this one” after finishing the regular season in second place behind the Paladins.
“We faced some really good pitching in the last couple of games, but we were able to string some good at-bats together … guys were really battling at the plate. To score seven runs off the pitcher we faced last night was impressive as he only allowed one run in two games against the Paladins,” said McConaghy. “It was a gutsy performance. We were playing short handed and worn out and a lot of guys were playing through injuries.”
The Grey Lions have been dominant in the 10-team AWCBA, which is for players ages 30-plus, winning five titles over a six-year span from 2012 to 2017, as well as numerous pennants and appearances in the finals and semifinals. For McConaghy and the crew, this one will undoubtedly be treasured as the “guys are a little older now.”
“Last night our average age as a team was around 43 years of age, so we were quite a bit older than our opponents. So, this one is sweet,” said McConaghy.
Already looking forward to next year, McConaghy, who’ll be back as skipper, expects much of the roster to return saying they were “energized” after the clincher. That said, as the years go on, players do retire so they’re “always looking for younger bodies for sure.”
And while it’s been said before, it bears repeating that win or lose, the Grey Lions are a tight-knit bunch and play for the love of the game and the camaraderie that comes with it, not the glory.
“After the game, we had a good celebration and everyone was really energized. We’re all really looking forward to next year,” he concluded.