Unity minor ball teams, Unity minor ball program and Unity-born players have been on the radar.
Provincial success in both baseball and softball continue to keep Unity’s ball programs and players in the headlines, while the Unity minor ball diamonds continue to be the crown jewel for the town.
Unity’s ball diamonds hosted 40 teams for the Girls’ Prairie League Softball championships as well as multiple provincial and western events this year. These events work because the volunteer core in Unity is solid. Support from community sponsors is another big factor in this success story.
Dedicated coaches and managers each year are another asset as this is what keeps all divisions of both baseball and softball available for interested players each season.
Pat Risling says he counts in decades the amount of time he has helped with UMB both in equipment management as well as coaching. Risling spends numerous hours throughout the season on maintenance of equipment, inventory of uniform assets, as well as preparation for upcoming events. He is also available for younger teams’ assistance. He has also helped with Softball Saskatchewan development programs.
John “Huntzie” Klaehn is another long standing volunteer who essentially lives at the ball diamonds in ball season, coaching, helping and cheering for everyone regardless of division or age range.
With no arena rafters from which to hoist championship banners, ball teams have the Unity Wall of Fame to announce their success. Softball has won provincial titles consecutively for more than 10 years.
This year UMB softball teams earned medals including two gold titles and two well-earned silver medals, both from extra-inning games. UK Royals repeated as provincial champs, although in a different category when juniors were cancelled. This subsequently sent three Unity softball teams to Western Canadian championships, with the U19 team capturing Unity Minor Ball’s first gold Western Canadian title at home.
Unity players have been involved in the 222 Winter Fastpitch program and the Softball Sask. high performance winter softball program. Unity has sent softball teams to Sask. Summer games for three consecutive sessions.
In 2012, Unity hosted the inaugural Fall Ball Zone Classic which included multiple Unity players who went on to win a silver medal in a tight matchup against Saskatoon. This program has since been moved to younger divisions and has also included Unity players.
Softball Sask. currently has three Unity Minor Ball players on their winter training team for final selections to potentially become part of Team Saskatchewan at the Western Canada Summer Games in 2019.
UMB also had two of their alumni players on the University of Saskatchewan Softball team for a number of years capturing both Western Canadian and National medals.
The baseball division is no stranger to the success board either. Unity Cardinals have won multiple provincial titles from 2002 to present with several players experiencing back-to-back championships as they moved along in UMB baseball ranks.
This year, the Pee Wee Cardinals captured provincial gold in Carnduff. The UMB baseball program has created other success stories that include Blake Robertson who played at 2012 Bantam Boys Nationals as well as earning Rivers West Sports District athlete of the year award.
Rhett Feser is another UMB baseball product who had several other outings including U21 Nationals and award winning college seasons.
Garin Scherr was part of the 2016 National team and will play this year in Oshawa, Ont. as part of Team Sask. once again playing for a national title.
Dylan Poschenreider is another Unity player who moved into a Triple A baseball team from the UMB ranks and also attended a national baseball event with Team Saskatchewan in the Maritimes.
Unity Cardinals were represented at the 2016 Sask Summer Games. Last season two Unity players, Hannah Feser and Ainsley Orobko, were part of the Western Canadian girls’ baseball team that competed in British Columbia.
Mike Ramage, executive director of Baseball Sask says, “Unity is a very strong baseball community in Saskatchewan. This includes talented players throughout all ages, knowledgeable coaches and most importantly, an excellent volunteer base. They are always willing to step up to the plate to host one of more of our Baseball Sask. provincial championships and they always put on a good show. “
Don Robertson Softball Sask. volunteer and longtime coach and volunteer adds, “The biggest factor we have is excellent volunteers who are coaching from Learn to Play right up to juniors. They are people who are motivated to learn and thereby train the athletes and are dedicated to developing all the athletes in all positions. Behind these coaches and athletes are dedicated parents.”
Robertson also lauded the dedication of the organization’s executive.
A complete list of past provincial champions can be found on both the Baseball Sask. website, the Softball Sask. websites or by perusing the Unity Wall of Fame at the arena.