News and Announcements
2017 Schedule Released!!!
The NWMSL has released the schedule for the U14 division, the Simcoe Braves will open with 3 games on May 13th in Palmerston against Shallow Lake, New Hamburg and the host Palmerston. The Braves will then return home for their Home Opener on May 18th to face Six Nations, Game time is 8:00 in Waterford.
Simcoe Braves gear up for world tourney - Simcoe Reformer
SIMCOE – The Simcoe Braves won a provincial banner in 2016 and this summer the group will take on the world.
The International Softball Congress (ISC) announced this off-season that it will not only play host to a number of men’s and under-21 level events, including the annual World Tournament, the organization is set to welcome youngsters in the U-16 and U-14 ‘developmental’ age groups as well.
The Braves – winners of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association ‘C’ title ‑ have accepted an invite to take part in the ISC U-14 draw in Saginaw, Michigan this July.
“It definitely adds a little bit of excitement,” said Adam Walker, who coaches the team along with Shawna Cloet. “Going to the States to play ball is a big deal on its own for the kids. We’ve talked to them about a couple years down the road getting to a nationals or an (eastern Canadian tournament), so to add this to the mix definitely brings a level of excitement for these kids.”
The tournament brackets are expected to feature teams from across Canada, the U.S. and even possibly Australia.
Trying to judge the competition at this point would be like swinging at a pitch blindfolded, Walker said.
“It’s not like hockey when you can go online and see what these teams have done … you really have no clue. There’s some real softball hotbeds across the Midwest in places like Illinois and North Dakota. I’m sure we’ll see some goods teams,” said Walker.
“They’re talking about bringing a couple teams from Australia. We’ve seen what the Aussies can bring at the men’s level and I’m sure we’ll see some great competition (their younger teams) too.”
The Braves met for indoor training once a week at Bloomsburg Public School this winter to prepare for their second campaign. In addition to that, pitchers and catchers reported to the Rising Stars training facility in Brantford for further instruction and practice.
Walker hopes the extra effort will equal wins on one of the biggest stages in the game.
“With the work they’ve put in and the dedication they’ve shown in the past for this, we’ll hopefully do this area proud,” he said.
Port Dover adding boys team
The Port Dover Minor Softball Association (PDMSA) is looking to add a boys team in the 9/10-year-old age group. With no teams besides the Braves nearby, any youngster from Simcoe, Waterford and other Norfolk communities is eligible to join.
The organization also houses players in younger divisions and girls right up to 16.
“We’re certainly interested in any kids that are interested in trying softball,” said Peter Timpf, Port Dover Minor Softball president.
Anyone looking for more information can contact Timpf at 519-583-0820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Braves bring home banner - Simcoe Reformer
Speed kills.Disagree? Just ask the teams who were forced to take on the Simcoe Braves at the Ontario Amateur Softball Association provincial squirt championships this past weekend in Cobourg.
After four contests, the first-year squad – which is made up of players from across Norfolk County – claimed the ‘C’ title, the first of its kind in Simcoe since 1987.“It’s been the key to any game we’ve won all season long – our kids run the bases better than anybody, I would say, in the province,” said Simcoe coach Adam Walker. “Once we get kids on base, other teams just can’t keep up with us.”
Simcoe stormed through its first two games, topping Curve Lake and Laurentian Valley by a combined score of 19-5. An all-important Game 3 came late Sunday morning vs. Campbellford. The winner would move on to the final while the loser had to enter a win-or-go-home semi-final vs. Oshawa. Down 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Braves battled back to tie the score with Zach Dumanski standing on second base. Braden Moore then hit an infield single to the shortstop, but instead of stopping at third Dumanski headed for home to plate the winning run.
Leaning on star hurler Zach McCracken like they had all weekend, Simcoe went on to beat Campbellford 12-5 later that day to earn gold.
Word of the team’s win quickly made its way back to Norfolk.
“The amount of congratulations texts, emails, Facebook messages that I’ve gotten over the last two days has been unbelievable,” said Walker, who started the team along with fellow coach Shawna Cloet this past winter.
“This was our year to let the kids feel it out a little bit and to win a championship of this magnitude, and to be the first ones to do it in so long, it’s pretty special. It’s special for myself, for Shawna, for all the kids to see their hard work pay off. It was a very special feeling on Sunday to watch them put their medals on.”
By no means has the rest of the province heard the last of the Braves either. They’re already focused on going even further in the years to come.
“The kids want to get back and start practicing tomorrow. They know that we’re on a three-year plan to get to a national championship,” Walker explained.
“It’s a great step for these kids to get a taste of winning something like this to build for something bigger down the road.”
Plenty of on-field skills played a major part in Simcoe’s success story, not to mention some timely hitting. So too did several high-level coaches including George Ryder and Dave Bourne giving their time to ensure the group – many of whom had never played softball before – hit the ground running.
“We definitely wouldn’t be here without their help and everybody in the softball community who helped put this together,” Walker pointed out. “It was a little bit of a pipe dream when it started and it’s been a good ride for Year 1. Hopefully, we can continue.”
First-year Braves capture OASA title - Norfolk News
When Adam Walker and Shawna Cloet bantered around the idea to bring back softball to the area, the furthest thing from their minds was winning an Ontario Amateur Softball Association championship.
Little did they know, four months later they would be in Coburg and watching the Simcoe Braves celebrate an OASA squirt C title in front of the pitcher’s mound.
“It’s incredible. It really is,” Walker said. “It’s an amazing way to finish off the season. I couldn’t be happier for these kids.”
After going undefeated for three games, the Braves capped off the tournament with a convincing 12-5 win over Campbellford.
And the ensuing celebration said it all.
“Seeing every kid celebrate was a great feeling,” Walker said. “They have all come such a long way since that first time in the gym. It was really good for the kids. Getting that taste of winning is a great thing.”
Four months earlier, the Braves were just a dream.
“One day it was just a pipe dream when we were talking,” Walker said. “We thought, what do you think? Could we put a team together? Then we started putting names together who would play. Surely we could get three more to make 10 players.”
He said the goal was to introduce softball to kids that would be interested in the sport, with hopes of maybe building something.
Up until the late 1990s, softball diamonds in Norfolk were packed with teams from every town. But like all things, the cycle ended. And when the International Softball Congress champion Jarvis Travelers decided to pack things in, it almost seemed like a death blow for the sport. That is until now, with the fledgling team.
“It was funny, that the same week we decided to do this, was the same week the (Kitchener Hallman Twins, formerly Jarvis) Tarvelers are done,” Walker said. “I kind of thought it would be really great if we can pick up where they left off. I played with Opie (Ian Fehrman) as a kid and Shawna’s cousin Greg (Cournyea) played with the Travelers, so there are those connections.”
Walker said it was an idea that was made possible by many, including sponsors the Simcoe Lions Club and South Coast Hyundai.
“When we started, we got a call from George Ryder, who asked if he could help with the pitchers,” walker said. “Then Dave Bourne, the hitting coach from the Toronto Gators called. All of the sudden, these kids were getting some of the best coaching in the province.”
From there, they began to hone their skills in the Haldimand Erie Fastball League, while gaining respect in bigger tournaments.
That’s when people started to talk about this new team from a town that used to dominate the sport.
“We’d go to a tournament and knock off some of the top teams in the province,” Walker said. “It was really special. This weekend was obviously fantastic and to win an OASA championship is amazing. But the cool part is the team that won the OASA A title, is a team we beat a couple of weeks ago. It shows we can compete with anyone. And we’ve been playing this sport for four months.”
The Braves started this past weekend against Curve Lake and came away with an 11-1 win. They then beat Laurentian Valley 8-4, before having to come from behind to beat Campbellford 6-5 in the undefeated game, vaulting them to the final.
“We were losing 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh with our seven, eight, and nine batters coming up,” Walker said. “Our depth in hitting really showed. We were able to chip way and walk it off.”
Although the Braves have won Simcoe’s first OASA title since Harrington Sports intermediates and Simcoe Juniors won their respective championships in 1996, their voyage isn’t over.“The kids have some lofty goals ahead and they want to track those down,” Walker said. “They know in peewee they can qualify for the national championships. It’s something they want to work towards, so we’ll be back at it.
“Most importantly, we’re bringing something back,” he said. “It’s bigger than just our team and an Ontario championship. We have the potential of getting to and maybe winning a national championship. It’s something these kids are aiming to now.”
by Darryl Smart
Darryl Smart is a sports reporter with the Norfolk News. He can be reached at email@example.com
Simcoe Braves head to provincials in Cobourg - Simcoe Reformer
SIMCOE – It’s taken just a few months for the Simcoe Braves to go from first years to first rate.
The area’s new competitive squirt (12-and-under) fastball team, one made up of athletes from around the county, will head to Cobourg for the Ontario Amateur Softball Association Provincial ‘C’ Championships this coming weekend.
Back in May, the squad played its first ever game within the Haldimand Erie Fastball League – now they’re expected to challenge for a provincial title.
“I think we’re feeling pretty good because they’re doing better than what we expected them to do,” said Shawna Cloet, who coaches the team along with Adam Walker. “They’ve come from a first-year team where we didn’t know if we were going to get any strikes to a team that is beating the top teams in the province which is phenomenal, it’s a great achievement for us.”
In fact, many of their games have been blowouts. That comes thanks in large part to the work put in by a small group of players, many of whom have played hardball in the past.
“They work extremely hard. We focus a lot on fundamentals and I think we just have a great group of kids that really want to play the game so therefore they excel at it,” Cloet added.
“We are exceptional defensively and hitting. I would say our weakest point is pitching but then again, they’re first-year pitchers.”
Simcoe native Zach Dumanski was drawn to fastball’s quick pace, and the chance to compete alongside a talented crop of players.
The roster, he said, has a few goals in mind as the 2016 season finale looms.
“We just want to work hard and when we get to provincials we want to try and do as best as we can in them,” said the youngster.
“Try your best and when you get out to the field, play your position well and try not to make any mistakes.”
The Braves have been right in the thick of things in the two previous tournaments they’ve entered. Doing so again, Cloet said, should be no issue.
“We’re in a division that, honestly, we should be a top team – we should be a contender for sure,” she said. “We’re definitely not in over our heads by any means. We should go there and succeed.”