baseball

Miracle League of Amherstburg celebrates 10 years of smiles

 

 

By Christian Bouchard

 

It was all smiles and laughter as the Miracle League of Amherstburg kicked off their tenth season of baseball last Saturday.

The Miracle League of Amherstburg is home to players from around Windsor-Essex County with physical challenges or intellectual disabilities, giving them a chance to play baseball.

Since its inaugural year 10 years ago, the league has grown from 40 players on a dirt diamond to now having over 160 players. All games are played at the Miracle Diamond at the Libro Centre on a barrier-free rubberized surface allowing anyone with walkers or mobility issues to play. A typical game has teams rotating between batting and fielding, so all athletes get the chance to play.

Raven Mallat takes a swing at a pitch .Games run every Saturday through Oct. 20.

Michelle Vigneux, one of the Miracle League’s board members and its publicity director said the community support has been exceptional. She added how thrilled she is to see how many people get to witness what the Miracle League represents.

“It stands for inclusiveness, it stands for opportunities, it stands for smiles,” said Vigneux. “You can come here in the worst mood and you’re guaranteed to walk away with the biggest smile. It helps us realize no matter who you are, whether you have small or big challenges, you can do almost anything, and you can make a difference in the lives of a whole bunch of people.”

Vigneux also acknowledged how important the help of volunteers is to the league’s success. On any given week, it can take anywhere from 100-200 volunteers.

Andrea Gunby crosses home plate during the first week of the 2018 fall season Sept. 8.

“Some of the buddies need one-on-one support while others need a couple people to support them. The league also needs announcers, pitchers, umpires, a barbecue crew, a set up and take down crew, and people around to cheer and coordinate the volunteers,” said Vigneux.

Anyone interested in volunteering can check out the Miracle League of Amherstburg’s website at www.amherstburgmiracle.com. People can also call 519-919-4641 if they are interested in volunteering.

Sr. Cards finish regular season, now await OBA’s and league playoffs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Cardinals have finished the Essex County Senior League baseball season and are now focusing on the upcoming OBA tournament and playoffs.

The Cardinals finished the regular season at the .500 mark with an 11-11 record after defeating the Essex Yellow Jackets 8-6 last Thursday night in Essex. Amherstburg got off to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Mac Ouellette’s RBI single drove home Nick Price.

Amherstburg first baseman Mac Ouellette fights the sun as he catches a fly ball during last Thursday evening in Essex.

Essex took a 4-1 lead in the third inning with four runs of their own but Amherstburg clawed back with one in the top of the fourth on a Josh Slaney RBI single and three more in the top of the fifth thanks to an RBI double from Cole Lepine, Brad Lepine scoring on an error and a sacrifice fly from Slaney.

Essex regained the lead – this time at 6-5 – with two in their half of the fifth inning. However, Amherstburg would score the final three runs of the game. Brady Levack scored on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth while Josh Sikich’s two-run single in the seventh put the Cardinals in the lead to stay.

“It was a really big win for us,” said Brad Lepine. “It was back-and-forth. We hit the ball well.”

Lepine called it “a really big team win” and stated it put them in third place in the league standings and a home playoff game against the Harrow Blues.

“We got good pitching and we put the bat on the ball well,” he said. “It was awesome.”

Josh Slaney takes a rip at a pitch as part of his two-RBI game.

As the team prepares for the OBA tournament in Port Lambton on Labour Day weekend, he added that they have to minimize their errors, keep hitting the ball and continue to pitch well.

The Essex County Senior League playoffs start Sept. 21. The Cardinals and Blues will play that night at the Libro Centre with the bulk of the playoff tournament to be there as well that same weekend.

Amherstburg resident part of Leamington team’s OBA title victory

 

Special to the RTT

 

Joe Funkenhauser of Amherstburg won his first OBA championship earlier this month as a member of the Leamington Junior Barons.

The Leamington Junior Barons defeated Woodslee 9-7 to claim the OBA Junior ‘B’ championship in Port Lambton Aug. 12.

Funkenhauser, a talented third baseman, played a major role with the Barons this season and in the provincial tournament.

His seventh inning bases loaded double against Listowel advanced the Barons to the final on Sunday. The Barons were trailing 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, rallied back setting the stage for Funkenhauser’s late game heroics.

Joe Funkenhauser of Amherstburg won his first OBA championship earlier this month as a member of the Leamington Junior Barons. (Submitted photo)

“Joe was our only player not from Leamington and he fit in well with everyone,” said coach Terry Misener. “He played every game this season and did well as a first year Junior.  That game winning double was something to see, it ignited quite a celebration.”

Funkenhauser joined Leamington when it became apparent Amherstburg would not be fielding a Junior team this season.

Chris Lamotte and John Wall are the other coaches.

The OBA championship was a three-peat for ten of the Barons and three of the coaches. They were all members of the 2016 and 2017 Midget OBA ‘B’ winning teams and have now added the 2018 Junior title to their resumes.

Sr. Cards win one and lose one last week

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Cardinals senior team won a game and lost a game in Essex County Senior League action last week.

The Cardinals first game of the week started late, ended late but saw Amherstburg snap a four-game losing streak.

Amherstburg was in Essex with the game, originally having an 8:30 p.m. start, actually getting underway at approximately 9 p.m. and lasting almost three hours. The Cardinals would emerge with a 12-5 victory.

Amherstburg scored three in the top of the first inning thanks to a Josh Sikich two-run double and a Brady Levack RBI single. Mac Ouellette gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI singe but Essex scored two in the fourth and one in the fifth to make it a one-run game.

The Cardinals pulled away with six in the sixth inning as Ouellette hit a three-run home run, Matt Lepine had an RBI single and Nick Price had a two-run single. Essex would answer back with two in their half of the sixth but Josh Slaney and Levack each had RBI’s in the seventh to round out the scoring.

Amherstburg second baseman Nick Price leads off last Wednesday night’s game in Essex with a hit.

“We started out pretty hot in the first inning,” said Ouellette. “We had good pitching from Josh Sikich and Tristan Bouchat.”

Their bats came alive and “that was long overdue, that’s for sure,” he said.

The sixth inning was “huge,” Ouellette added. The win helped give them confidence as they head into the final games of the regular season and into the OBA tournament Labour Day weekend in Port Lambton, he said after the game.

The Cardinals second game of the week was Sunday afternoon in Woodslee against their senior team but suffered a setback. Woodslee won that game 8-0. The Sr. Cards now have ten wins and 11 losses on the 2018 season.

Amherstburg is scheduled to be back in Essex Thursday night for a 7 p.m. game. It is the last regular season game with Essex County Senior League playoffs due to start in September.

Sr. Cards lose a pair of weekend games

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Cardinals senior baseball team dropped a pair of weekend games but were plagued again by a depleted roster for both.

The Cardinals were missing several regular players for both games, particularly Saturday night when coach Dennis Ouellette had to play right field for an inning until another player showed up. Fill-in players suited up for the Cardinals, some of whom have been playing softball in recent seasons.

The most recent game was an 8-2 loss Sunday afternoon in Tecumseh to their senior team. The Thunder scored four in an error-filled first inning, three more in the fifth and one in the sixth while the Cardinals managed two runs in the top of the seventh thanks to a Carl Guthrie RBI single and a Josh Slaney sacrifice fly.

Brady Levack connects with a pitch during Aug. 12 action at Lacasse Park in Tecumseh.

“We lost but I’m disappointed with the way we played,” said Ouellette. “Cole (Lepine) pitched great. We have a good player possible for next year (Guthrie).”

Ouellette said the absent players would have made a difference, as the Cardinals had to use players in different positions and that caused some errors and defensive plays that wouldn’t usually happen.

“There were a lot of balls that fell that wouldn’t usually fall,” said Ouellette.

Ouellette said he is still excited about this year’s team, stating no shows at this time of year is normal as players have other commitments.

“Once we get everyone back, we’ll be playing like we did at the beginning of the year,” said Ouellette.

The Cardinals were in action Saturday night against the Tecumseh 35+ team and lost 7-1. Amherstburg’s lone run came in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Austin Price. Mac Ouellette said Saturday they were short staffed but noted they still didn’t play well enough.

Amherstburg shortstop John Freer makes a catch during Saturday night action at Mic Mac Park. The Sr. Cardinals lost games both Saturday and Sunday, though they were missing regular players both days.

“The name of the game is hitting the ball and we didn’t hit the ball,” he said.

The Saturday night game did not count in the Essex County Senior League standings.

The senior Cardinals (9-10) are in Essex Wednesday night for an 8:30 p.m. game and face the Woodslee Sr. team in Woodslee Sunday at 1 p.m.