Fort McMurray's 18U team puts up tough fight at baseball championships

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The Fort McMurray Oil Giants didn’t win a medal at the 18U National Baseball Championships, but head coach Joey Iannetti is still proud of his team’s performance against the best teams nine provinces had to offer.

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The team held their own as the national championship returned to Fort McMurray from Aug. 17 to 20. Games were held at Shell Place, Ross Hennigar Park and J. Howard Pew Park. Fort McMurray’s 18U team finished fifth after elimination in quarter finals.

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“We had that expectation we were coming in to win that tournament and we built a team around that thinking we had a really good opportunity to do that this year,” said Iannetti. “I think our bases were covered, we just came up short.”

Fort McMurray was guaranteed a team as host city of the competition. This year’s team included 12 Fort McMurray athletes. About half of those athletes competed in last year’s competition, which was also held in Fort McMurray. Another eight athletes were recruited from different teams based on recommendations from their coaches.

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Fort McMurray started strong with a 10-0 victory over Manitoba, and a 14-0 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador. The team suffered a 9-2 defeat to New Brunswick, but fought back with a 19-4 victory over Nova Scotia. Quebec beat Fort McMurray in a tough 2-1 fight. Fort McMurray went on to win 9-7 against the team representing the rest of Alberta.

Iannetti says Fort McMurray showed plenty of strengths this year, particularly in hitting power. The veteran and new athletes meshed well with the athletes from other organizations, which Iannetti said added depth to the team. Returning athletes felt this year’s team was stronger.

“There were a lot of positives and a lot of things that went right. Last year we entered that tournament and didn’t know what to expect,” said Iannetti. “We knew the atmosphere was going to be electric because when we hosted last year the kids just loved the experience.”

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In the meantime, the Oil Giants are preparing for their next season. Training starts in September, and athletes will work on getting stronger and faster.

Fort McMurray is hosting the 2024 Baseball Canada Championships. For that tournament, Fort McMurray’s athletes will need to earn a spot on Team Alberta. Iannetti hopes to see local athletes on the team.

Iannetti added recent and upcoming tournaments are reminders of Fort McMurray’s potential for hosting more athletic tournaments. Encouraging sports tourism has been named a priority for the municipality and Fort McMurray’s athletic community.

“As far as our facilities in Fort McMurray go, we play throughout all of Alberta and Fort McMurray has some of the best facilities not only in Alberta, but I’m sure in Canada,” said Iannetti. “The fact our kids have these facilities in Fort McMurray and can host these events brings great opportunities to youth athletes in Fort McMurray and Alberta.”

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fort mcmurray
The Fort McMurray Oil Giants’ 18U team pose for a photo after 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
ayden cote
Ayden Cote of Team Fort McMurray yells during a game against Team Quebec at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
baseball
Team Fort McMurray celebrate their victory over Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Michael Szpak of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Michael Szpak of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Sydney Barry of Team Fort McMurray competes against Nova Scotia at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Sydney Barry of Team Fort McMurray competes against Nova Scotia at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Jayden Conway of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Jayden Conway of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Ethan Pittman of Team Fort McMurray competes against Nova Scotia at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Ethan Pittman of Team Fort McMurray competes against Nova Scotia at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Hudson Staudinger of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Hudson Staudinger of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
People cheer for Team Fort McMurray as they face Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
People cheer for Team Fort McMurray as they face Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Sullivan “Sully” Schreyer, bat boy for Team Fort McMurray and the Fort McMurray Oil Giants, at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Sullivan “Sully” Schreyer, bat boy for Team Fort McMurray and the Fort McMurray Oil Giants, at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Lucas Mahoney of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Lucas Mahoney of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Nathan Flewelling of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Nathan Flewelling of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Braden Iannetti of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Braden Iannetti of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Team Fort McMurray shakes hands with Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Team Fort McMurray shakes hands with Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Jayden Conway of Team Fort McMurray makes sure he’s safe during a game against Nova Scotia at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Jayden Conway of Team Fort McMurray makes sure he’s safe during a game against Nova Scotia at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Shell Place on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Ethian Mayuk of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Ethian Mayuk of Team Fort McMurray competes against Team Alberta at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Jayden Conway of Team Fort McMurray hugs his coach, Joey Iannetti, after his final game with the Fort McMurray Oil Giants at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
Jayden Conway of Team Fort McMurray hugs his coach, Joey Iannetti, after his final game with the Fort McMurray Oil Giants at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
18u baseball
Coach Tyler Hodder of Team Fort McMurray congratulates Quinn Szpak at the 2023 18U National Baseball Championships at Ross Hennigar Park on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

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