Cava­liers earn back-to-back ti­tles

Ham­mer two grand slams in cham­pi­onship vic­tory

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

The tour­na­ment

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.”

Re­peat­ing

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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