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Archon Braves put together a solid season

It’s been a hectic finish to the regular season, but the Red Deer Archon Braves will go into the provincial 15U AAA baseball championships on a positive note.
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It’s been a hectic finish to the regular season, but the Red Deer Archon Braves will go into the provincial 15U AAA baseball championships on a positive note.

Because of smoke and poor weather conditions, the Braves played 11 games over their final eight days, but made the most of it, finishing the season with a 17-9 record.

“It was tough because of the weather,” said first-year head coach Desmond Bouteiller. “A lot games in a short period of time, but we finished strong.”

The Braves posted the third best winning percentage in the 12-team Tier I Division of the 15U AAA League. If things work out, the team will finish second in the North Division back of the Parkland Twins Gold (22-5).

“The league was run different this year than last,” explained Bouteiller. “Last year teams played in either a North or South Division. This year we played in one Division, but when it comes to the playoffs they divide us into North and South.”

The top three teams in each division advance to the finals. They take two teams from each division and they play in the Tier 2 playoffs with the top two teams from that playoff advancing into the Tier I championships.

“I can’t say for sure where we sit as we do have a couple games rained out that should be classified as ties,” said Bouteiller.

If so the two ties would tie them with Edmonton (18-13) when it comes to points, but the Braves have a superior winning percentage.

Desmond put together a strong 12-man roster with depth in all areas.

“That’s the beauty of this team,” he said. “We have good players one through 12. All 12 guys can pitch and we have depth in the field and at the plate. We run a smaller group than some of the teams but we have the versatility which helps out when we need something done.

“With the busy schedule we need the versatility,” Desmond added. “It was a true test of the calibre of team we have and no one batted an eye. They just did their job.”

Desmond indicates they don’t have a true ace.

“Honestly we don’t,” he said. “We do have a couple guys we use in big situations, but we don’t label them an ace. We ask everyone to fit in whether as a starter or in relief. We want to be able to use everyone to in all situations.”

The Braves have three returnees from last season in Isaac Nakonechny, Seth Clark and Owen Coumont.

Nakonechney plays one of the middle infield positions while Coumont is the starting catcher. Clark plays all the corner positions and backs up Coumont.

Overall the squad has seven second-year players and five in their first year.

Riley Therriault, Toran Schofer, Keaton Rusnak and Nathan Vennard are the other second-year players with Ben McMahon, Carter Skjonsberg, Davis Cadieux, Jack Stevens and Matthew Morrow in their rookie seasons.

Desmond, who works with assistant coaches Rob Coumont and Kevin Curran and manager Amy Therriault, has three imports — Therriault, Stevens and Schofer — all from Sylvan Lake.

“They have a strong program there,” said Bouteiller. “Two of our affiliates are from there as well and a couple others play for Olds.”

Desmond did help with the Braves in the first half of last season, but his background in mainly in junior, having worked with the Innisfail Merchants.

“But it’s great to be back with the 15 years olds and working in their development,” he said. “This is an amazing group.”

Desmond is also involved with the 16U girls provincial team and with the Team Alberta Canada Cup team, which includes three local products in Jake Brooks, Nathan Flewelling and Matt Murray.

The Braves go into the provincials hosted by Spruce Grove, Aug. 4-6, as a dark horse.

They played Parkland twice and lost both games, and lost a close decision to the undefeated Okotoks Dawgs in tournament play.

“But you just never know what can happen in a one-game situation,” said Bouteiller. “Everyone else in the league we’ve had success against and have a winning record.”

Red Deer will host a pair of provincial championships with the Red Deer Carstar Braves hosting the 18U Elite Division finals July 27-30 at Great Chief Park. The Braves go into the championship first after finishing league play with a 24-8 record.

The Red Deer Braces 13U AA squad will host the Tier 3 provincials Aug. 4-6 at Great Chief Park.

Also on the July 28-30 weekend Ponoka hosts the 13U AA Division 8 finals, Lacombe the 11U AA Tier 5 championships and Stettler the 15U AA Tier 5 finals.

On Aug. 4-6 the 11UAA Tier 2 finals and 18U AA Tier 3 championships are both set for Sylvan Lake.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca