NAPANEE, N.S. – The Colchester Royals believe it’s their time.
After narrowly missing a medal at two previous national championships, the Steve Patton-coached Royals are determined more than ever to bring home the hardware from next week’s Canadian U19 men’s fastpitch tournament in Napanee, Ont.
The 12-team event runs Aug. 14 to 19.
In 2016, the Royals finished fourth at the U16 event in Owen Sound, Ont., while last year they were fourth at the U18 tournament in O’Leary, P.E.I.
“We’re real excited this year, even more so than in the past,” said Royals pitcher/infielder Carson Lanceleve.
“I think with a couple of years just being so close and being right there, I think this year we’re definitely going to go knowing what we can do and we’re going to strive to get a medal – that’s the ultimate goal.”
The Royals’ strength is their pitching staff, which also includes Canadian junior team member David Watson and U.S. junior team player Nathan Landry, along with Cameron Patton – who was named all-Canadian utility player at the 2016 U16 event.
Royals shortstop Rowan Sears was also a member of this year’s national junior team, while utility man Brendan Walker was an alternate on the Canadian squad.
“I think it’s a very talented group,” said Lanceleve, 18, from Stewiacke. “Steve’s worked with us for a year now on every little thing for us to get better and it’s all coming together. It’s a very good group and we work well together; all the boys are good friends.”
The local squad competes throughout the summer in the provincial Shooters Bar and Grill Fastpitch League. The six-team league features many experienced and high-calibre players, including members of the 2017 national men’s champion East Hants Mastodons. Playing against, and learning from, top-level talent has served the Royals well, says Lanceleve.
“Everybody in that league’s good; it’s a very high-end league, it’s very good ball and I think seeing that calibre of pitching really helps us,” he said. “They’re grown men, they hit the ball hard, they field the ball well, and if you want to beat them you’ve got to play real well and if you want to be close with them you’ve got to play real well. And I find the intensity in the league’s high; that intensity kind of puts you in good situations – how you play under pressure and certain things like that, that helps us a lot.”
The Royals open the tournament Aug. 14 with a pair of games. They meet the Belmore Sting of Ontario at noon local time, before a 7:30 p.m. game against the Chayee Bourras Selects from Newfoundland. The defending champions are Ontario’s Chepstow Lang Farms.
Lanceleve understands there will be no easy games, however, he feels the Royals are capable of achieving great success at the national level.
“Realistically, I think we’re a gold-medal contender.”
Following are teams competing in the U19 men’s Canadian fastpitch championship Aug. 14 to 19 in Napanee, Ont.:
N.S – Colchester Royals
DC – Chepstow Lang Farms
Host – Napanee AFW Express
NL – Chayee Bourras Selects
Que. – Equip Quebec
Ont. 1 – Haldimand Athletics
Ont. 2 – Belmore Sting
Ont. 3 – Shallow Lake Sting
Sask. 1 – Prince Albert Astros
Sask. 2 – Delisle Poly Plus Pride
Sask. 3 – Shellbrook Rangers
B. C. – British Columbia Selects