Peter Shepert is welcomed by his Jiffy Lube All-Star teammates.

Mike Falkins positions himself to block an errant pitch.

Jordy Brand, a consummate infielder, delivers a throw during the All-Star game.

The Jiffy Lube All-Stars celebrate a good inning

Click on picture for larger print

From August 12th until August 20th, regular coverage of the NCABL will continue on both Facebook and Twitter. Regular website coverage will resume on August 21st

Blackhawks On Quest to Capture Western Canada Crown

The Edmonton Blackhawks are focused on two goals at the present time. The first is to emerge victorious from their semi-final series with the Primeaus; the second is to bring home the honour of having won the Western Canada Senior AA Championship. The Blackhawks have enjoyed much success in the NCABL over the past decade having claimed three consecutive pennants from 2014 - 16 and four League Championships in 2013, 2014, 2016, and again last season. The defending League Champions finished second behind the Sherwood Park Athletics this season and continue to present a threat to any opponent. Led by their Manager Randy Gregg, who was awarded the Bob Kootenay Manager of the Year on four occasions by his peers and wily veteran coach Duncan Knoll, the Blackhawks will take to the field in Stonewall, Manitoba, as a club team unlike many other clubs who will be competing as an aggregate of all-stars. The veteran squad will respond to the challenge as they have been groomed to do over their entire NCABL tenure. Former League MVP’s like Kyle Lawrence (2016), Regan Hoet (2015), and Ryan Gregg (2014) know the game and can lead when called upon by Manager Gregg. The supporting cast know their roles and contribute at critical times in a baseball game. The NCABL has not participated in the Western Canada Championship since 2006 and the League has not shown an active interest in Provincial play over the past decade.

The schedule at last posting will see the Blackhawks square off against the Manitoba Provincial Champions on Friday. On Saturday they will play the British Columbia Provincial Champions as well as the host club from Stonewall. On Sunday morning the Blackhawks will complete the round robin against the Saskatchewan Provincial Champions. The Championship final game is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks return to Alberta on Monday and may be playing in the third game of their best of three semi-final series against the Primeaus on Tuesday should that series be extended.

The North Central Alberta Baseball League wishes the Edmonton Blackhawks much success as they prepare for their next baseball experience. Above, the All-Stars enjoy play at Remax Field, home of the Edmonton Blackhawks.

Regular Season Sizzles as Rain Continues to Interrupt

If mother nature cooperates, an exciting post season tie breaker will be played at Legion Field in St. Albert on Monday, August 12th (7:15 PM). The winner will be declared fourth place finishers and go on to play the pennant champion Sherwood Park Athletics in the LCSFS (A Series) in Westlock on the week-end of August 17th and 18th. This will mark the third time that the Red Lions and Cardinals meet in either a late season game or a post-season elimination game to determine the final post season berth. The Cardinals are hoping that the old adage of third time lucky will mean that they would advance for the first time in their seven year history with the NCABL. The Cardinals will have to shore up their softening defence while exploding with more hits per game if they are to advance to the post season. On another front, the Blackhawks and Primeaus (second vs. third) open their series at Remax Field also on Monday night.(6:30 PM) That Series continues on Tuesday night with Wednesday held over for a rain out on either night. For a complete season ending summary of results in the standings, go to standings on the main page.

Players Voted to 2019 NCABL All-Star Club

Jiffy Lube All-Star Club for 2019 (click here for roster)

Beverly Optimist All-Star Club for 2019 (click here for roster)

The Morinville Jiffy Lube All-Stars will be the home club for the 2019 All-Star Game to be held at Remax Field on Sunday, July 21st. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm. The Jiffy Lube All-Stars will be represented by the Sherwood Park Athletics, Westlock Red Lions, Stony Plain Mets, and Edmonton Athletics. Six of the ten voted all stars will be suited up for the Jiffy Lube All-Stars this year. The Sherwood Park Athletics who are currently leading in the pennant race have placed three players on the honour role including Mike Falkins, a skilled defensive catcher with a .364 batting average, Henry Duke, a heavy hitting third baseman, along with Austin Simper, a sure handed outfielder sporting a .348 batting average and a club leading 12 RBI’s. The Mets placed Lee Worobec and Andrew Slinko on the voted list, the former a pitcher with an ERA of only 1.04 after 27 innings of work for the Mets so far this season. Slinko patrols second base for the Mets and currently leads his club with a .474 batting average. Peter Shepert, a utility player for the Edmonton Athletics is the sixth player representing Jiffy Lube.

The Beverly Optimist All-Stars will be the visiting club in this year’s tilt. They will be represented by the Edmonton Primeaus, St. Albert Cardinals, Edmonton Blackhawks, and Parkland Twins. Two players from the Blackhawks were among those voted to the All-Star Club. They are perennial all-star shortstop Regan Hoet who leads his club with a blistering .455 batting average and Greyson Roth, a reliable outfielder with a steady .333 batting average. The St. Albert Cardinals will be represented by Hayden Chies, a gifted centre fielder with one of the best arms in the League from the outfield and Joe Pasychnyk at first base from the Twins, the 2014 winner of the most promising junior player of the year while playing for the Camrose Axemen.

Brett McElroy of the Sherwood Park Athletics will be the All-Star Manager for Jiffy Lube while Craig Fagnan of the Edmonton Primeaus will be managing for the Beverly Optimist All-Stars. The coaching staff assisting each of these managers will be coming from the respective clubs representing each of these star laden clubs.

NCABL Voted All-Stars 2019
Position Player Club Name
Last Name First Name
Pitcher Worobec Lee Stony Plain Mets
Catcher Falkins Mike Sherwood Park Athletics
1st Base Pasychnyk Joe Parkland Twins
2nd Base Slinko Andrew Stony Plain Mets
3rd Base Duke Henry Sherwood Park Athletics
Shortstop Hoet Regan Edmonton Blackhawks
Outfield Chies Hayden St. Albert Cardinals
Outfield Simper Austin Sherwood Park Athletics
Outfield Roth Greyson Edmonton Blackhawks
Utility Shepert Peter Edmonton Athletics

Red Lions Complete Major Facelift

When Keller Field began to show signs of fatigue and aging, current and former Red Lion players did not lament over the fact that political decisions take time nor over whose responsibility it might be to initiate improvements. Players who have donned the Red Lion uniform over the past five decades have a proud tradition of meeting such challenges head on. The Rotarians had supported park renovations in 2017, the 50th anniversary year, through a grant they had obtained which was largely spent upgrading and beautifying the grandstand. With leftover funds falling well short of what was needed to replace the entire outfield fence, players and their families, both active and retired, came forward to spearhead the project to its conclusion. Local businesses, proud supporters of Red Lion baseball, were approached for additional funds and inkind materials and gave generously to the cause. A local baseball family offered a sizeable donation and asked for anonymity. The current coaching staff comprised of Chris and Jordan Brand, and Kevin Watamaniuk with off-field assistance from Chuck Keller organized the labor parties who toiled many hours to see the improvement project through. The finishing touches were not forgotten as the players whose numbers have been retired had their outfield boards replaced with fresh paint. As a parting tribute to the work effort of long time resident and Red Lion alumni Chuck Keller, a new sign towering above the scoreboard was erected. This last finishing touch had to wait until Mr. Keller had left for Europe so as not to face an objection from one of the League’s most noteworthy alumni. Regardless of where Chuck Keller may be in the years to come, he will always remain at the ballpark which bears his name and is an ongoing witness to the dedication and pride of all who have worn the uniform. Welcome to “Keller Field, Home of the Red Lions”.

Expectations and Prognostications for Season Fifty-Two

What is certain about the upcoming season is that the Blackhawks will be representing the NCABL in the Western Canada Senior Championship to be held in Stonewall, Manitoba in August. The veteran club is expected to be very competitive in that Championship as were other League representatives in season’s past. The Blackhawks will have access to other players from across the League who will not be involved in the LCSFS which happens to be scheduled for the same week-end in August. In addition to planning for this event, the Blackhawks will also have their sights set on returning to defend their Championship title, their fourth over the past decade to go along with three pennant victories during the same time period. Under the tutelage of Manager Randy Gregg and coach Duncan Knoll, look for the defending champions to retain a top four finish and to be strong contenders for a fifth title providing that the road to Western’s has not unduly tired the club.

If any club rises to the challenge of taking the championship title away from the Blackhawks, the Sherwood Park Athletics under youthful Manager Brett McElroy would likely be that club. A well balanced club with an experienced roster, the Athletics snatched their first ever pennant last season and had lofty expectations of going farther. The returning players will have something to prove and are expected to be even hungrier than ever before.

As everyone knows, every club will have the same opportunity come opening day to forge their own destiny. Will there be any surprises by season’s end? Will the final four include a new challenger or will the group remain largely unchanged but for positional designations? The Mets have probably undergone the most significant changes in personnel when compared to last season’s roster. The addition of a few former St. Albert Tigers and an improved pitching core should be enough to power the Mets back into the final four come August.

If the near miss performances of the youthful St. Albert Cardinals over the past two season’s are any indication that they are a club poised and ready to break into the post season, then they should not be ruled out from making their first Series’ appearance since entering the League. The crafty and never say die Red Lions will continue to have something to say about it, however. Despite missing all-star centre fielder Chris Brand for the entire season due to injury, the latter will be taking over management of the club and is counting on the return of former pitching great Carmen Brown to make an impact statement. The Red Lions play a solid defensive game and that will not change significantly this season, although team batting may be challenged.

What about the Primeau’s? Might they emerge from their funk and finally return to the competitive level of old when the club, then called the Indians, called Citadel Park in Legal home? To accomplish a return to the post season, the Primeaus will need a solid commitment from their entire core of starters, one that begins in May and ends in August and not any sooner. The challenge here will be in recruiting good young talent and keeping them around long enough to be developed into solid senior prospects. If the Primeaus can deal effectively with building a cohesive unit in both the infield and outfield, the possibility of making the final four is real. If not, the 2019 season could be another disappointing campaign.

The Edmonton Athletics currently hold the record for being the club with the longest tenure among urban clubs in the NCABL. For the Athletics, recruitment has never been their greatest challenge. They have always managed to fill roster spots and to remain relatively competitive over the years. Will the climb into the post-season be achievable this season? With the emergence of another star pitcher like Mark Trela, that goal would most certainly be more easily reached. Without it, the Athletics should turn to a closer working relationship with the N-E Zone who are currently promoting player development with vigour within their representative program. The current junior team would be a good place to start making inroads which could lead the Athletics back up the competitive ladder and possibly into the post-season at some point.

Predicting the success or lack thereof of a brand new franchise is always more difficult. The Parkland Twins have begun their quest for a future final four challenge in the right way, by forging alliances with Spruce Grove Minor Baseball. The success of their program will largely depend on their recruitment of graduating AAA Midget players from the locality as well as on regional recruitment. They will benefit from a beautiful facility in Henry Singer Park and from the past experience of a few grizzled veterans who once played for the successful Camrose Axemen. But beyond those intangibles, history has taught us that success in the NCABL is not instantaneous nor without the necessary commitment to practice and to skill development. We need only observe the dedication and progression of clubs like the Blackhawks and Sherwood Park Athletics to know that instant success is not a likely outcome. Hard work usually is.

N.C.A.B.L. Growing Their Footprint in Edmonton Area

The North Central Alberta Baseball League, once known as a predominantly rural league, lost another country based club following the 2018 regular season but just as quickly picked up yet another Edmonton area franchise. Eight Sturgeon County communities once boasted having a club playing in the NCABL. Horse Hills, Namao, Gibbons, Morinville, Alexander, and Redwater have not fielded teams in the past twenty years. The Town of Legal lost their club within the past decade. Now, the Sturgeon Paladins playing out of Bon Accord have pulled up stakes leaving the County of Sturgeon without any representation in the NCABL. The loss of the Paladins has further strengthened the view that the NCABL has adapted very well to the demographic shift which began almost twenty years ago and which has seen a dramatic growth of baseball within the larger Edmonton metropolitan area while the rural presence has almost totally disappeared.

This season, The Parkland Twins will launch their inaugural season from their base in Spruce Grove. This will return eight franchises to the NCABL producing a 21 game schedule which was recently released by the League (go to schedule/regular season). Quality of play has not suffered as a result of this geographic shift as improved coaching and superior playing fields have positively impacted play within the NCABL. The League does believe that several communities within the County of Sturgeon have the resources needed to bring back baseball to its former position of summer dominance, but time will tell if the potential to do so will in effect translate into reality. Sturgeon County is where it all began and the Town of Morinville in particular holds the distinction of being the official seat of the North Central Alberta Baseball League in addition to housing the only sport specific Hall of Fame in Alberta. These historical facts alone should encourage community leaders to revisit the possibility of returning the game to the place of its birth in north central Alberta.

Official Scorers to Refine Their Skill

Have you wanted to better understand the game of baseball, or better still position yourself just a little bit closer to the action? The League can and will afford you that opportunity again this season. Whether you are a novice or an experienced scorer, or whether you have been recruited or simply want to better acquaint yourself with the game of baseball, learning about scoring can be an educational and rewarding experience.

This season, returning scorers will be offered a half day refresher course which will be conducted completely apart from the novice sessions. A live game course component will also be offered to NCABL scorers only as an optional supplement to their training. If you are a first time attendee, whether working for the NCABL or taking the course to assist your minor baseball organization, the program will involve a full day of presentations. Lunch will be provided on site and included with your registration. Registration is free to all NCABL sponsored scorers; all others attending will be paying a $35 fee on site. Registration is easy. Simply include your full name, a telephone number where you can be reached, and your E-mail address and send this information to by April 25th inclusively.

The Official Scoring Clinic will be taking place on Saturday, April 27th, at the Bessie Nichols School in Edmonton. Both sessions begin with registration at 9:00 AM. Returning scorers may attend the full day of presentations at their discretion. As a special incentive this season, all NCABL scorers in attendance for the half day program will be eligible to receive a small stipend of $10 per regular season game for which they are the registered official scorer. Annual attendance is mandatory in order to qualify for the stipend. Spread the news. Register a friend. Come and learn all about the fundamentals of scoring a game of baseball. For all returnees, the focus will be on completing a game summary form and tracking and recording pitching statistics (ERA).

For all novices, you will learn all about the essential tools for properly scoring a game without delving into any knotty problems

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Club stats released July 21, 2019
LCS Club stats released August 27, 2017
St. Albert Cardinals
Edmonton Athletics Sherwood Park Athletics
Edmonton Blackhawks Stony Plain Mets
Edmonton Primeaus Parkland Twins
Westlock Red Lions