Cavaliers earn back-to-back titles
Hammer two grand slams in championship victory
With one swing of the bat, William Neville changed the momentum of the AAA male softball provincial championship for the better for the Laval Cavaliers.
In the third inning and leading 3-0 on Oct. 24, you wouldn’t think there was the need for a momentum shift, but Roncalli High were starting the see the ball a bit better. Players were hitting the ball hard and Laval played some stellar defence to keep the Cardinals at bay.
That was until the physically imposing Neville connected on a ball and drove it over the fence while three of his teammates were on base. The grand slam made it 7-0 and the Cavaliers were well on their way to a five-inning route of Roncalli.
“I thought it had a chance to go out at first,” said Neville. “And, then it went over the fence.”
“The bench was feeling pretty good at that point,” added Andrew Kelly. “We knew we had to keep the pressure going.”
In the fourth inning, Justin Edison connected on a four-run blast to make it 12-0. An inning later, shortstop Brent Hatfield flipped a ground ball to his double play partner for the final out of the fifth and the Cavaliers became two- time AAA provincial softball champions.
The Cavaliers’ bats were hot the entire tournament. From the first pitch to the last, they were aggressive at the plate and it paid dividends. Laval scored 43 runs in five games. That’s an average of just over eight runs a game.
“We had the strongest lineup. It seemed like every guy, one through 10, was hitting the ball,” said Hatfield. “Anyone who was filling in, they were hitting when
they came in.
In the semi-final, Laval ran through Templeton Academy 172 to punch their ticket to the championship.
In the round robin, the Cavaliers got wins over Pearson Academy (12-3), Pasasdena Academy (11-0) and White Hills Academy (3-2).
“The competition was a little better this year,” said Kelly. “Last year, we won all of our games by mercy except for Roncalli.”
The championship marked the second straight title for the Cavaliers. A year earlier, they beat Roncalli in the final. There was a sense of déjà vu for many players on the team.
Once Neville hit that first grand slam in the final, the challenge was controlling their emotions. In softball, especially slo pitch softball, teams are never truly out of it.
One big inning turns it around. That’s why coach Michael Gambin preached staying focused even after Edison followed with his shot.
“It was a lot of chaos when we won,” said Hatfield.
“It was a pretty good feeling knowing that this was the last year for a lot of us,” added Kelly.
Walking into the tournament as the defending champion carries with it a bit of extra weight. Teams know you’re good and they expect you to be right in the mix from the start.
It’s up to the players to make sure the team represents as well as they did the previous season.
“The expectations were a little higher,” said Hatfield. “We were up for it. There were no nerves.”
The Laval Cavaliers captured their second straight AAA male softball provincial title with a 12-0 victory over Roncalli High on Oct. 24. Members of the team are: front (l-r) — Justin Edison, Andrew Kelly, Jordan Roche, Michael Nash, Brent Hatfield, Zach Young and Kolton Green; back — coach Michael Gambin, William Neville, Douglas Cheeseman, Liam Shea, Ryan Hickey, Cody Power, Michael Leonard-Power, Joel Nash and Jordan Pomeroy.