The Estevan TS&M Peewee Tornadoes and the Estevan Sherritt Coal Bantam Haulers have been preparing for the provincial championships that will be held July 20 to 22 at Luscar Park in Estevan.
The Tornadoes competed at a tournament in Melville July 13 and 14. They defeated Martensville and the host Melville team, but lost to the Saskatoon As to go 2-1.
The win over Martensville was particularly important, says coach Landon Lafrentz, since Martensville will be in Estevan's pool at provincials. It was the first time that Estevan had played Martensville this year.
“That was encouraging for the boys,” said Lafrentz.
Joining Estevan and Martensville in their pool are Swift Current and Muenster. Weyburn, Lloydminster, Yorkton and Moose Jaw are in the other pool.
The Tornadoes will open the tournament on July 20 at noon against Swift Current. Then they play Martensville at 9:30 a.m. July 21 and Muenster at 3 p.m.
Tie-breakers, if they're needed, will be July 22. If there are tie-breakers, the semi-finals will happen at noon and the final will be 3:30 p.m. If tie-breakers aren't needed, then semi-finals will start at 9 a.m. and the final will be at 1 p.m.
Lafrentz said pitching should be one of the Tornadoes strengths at provincials.
“We have one of the stronger pitcher staffs,” said Lafrentz. “There are a couple teams that have a really good pitcher, but with the pitch count (limits), it really comes down to the strength of your pitching staff, and I'm pretty comfortable with what we have to work with.”
The Tornadoes will be working on everything in the days leading up to provincials.
The Haulers also prepared for provincials by going 2-1 at a tournament in Melville. Estevan defeated the Regina Pacers and the Saskatoon As, but lost to Yorkton – the Haulers' first opponent at provincials.
Estevan will play Yorkton at 12:30 p.m. on July 20, and Martensville at 10:30 a.m. on July 21. If the Haulers finish first in their pool, they won't have to play again until the semi-final in the morning of July 22. A second place finish will result in a quarter-final match in the afternoon of the 21st.
If there aren't any tie-breakers, the semi-final will be at 9 a.m. on the 22nd, and the final would be at 1 p.m. If a tie-breaker is needed, then the semi-final will be at noon and the final will be at 3 p.m.
Swift Current, Carlyle and Melfort are in the other pool.
The Haulers competed against Yorkton, Swift Current and Carlyle in league play this year. They have yet to encounter Martensville and Melfort.
Coach Kent Phillips said he has high hopes for his team. They suffered just one loss in league play this season.
"In all of the years I've coached AA and AAA ball, this is the most optimistic I am of a first place finish at provincials," said Phillips.
The Haulers boast very strong pitching and hitting, he said. Their weakness, at times, has been their defensive play, and when they do commit an error, it's been compounded by further mistakes in the field.
Phillips said he wants his players to have an upbeat, positive attitude entering provincials.