By Darryl G. Smart
Adam Walker saw the writing on the wall a couple of years ago when Softball Canada was thinking about changing the age categories for players. As a result of a tweak, especially at the U19 level, the Simcoe Braves had to do what most people have had to do during COVID-19 – pivot.
With a number of players too young for the new U19 level and others pursuing other interests, Walker has combined his team with their former rivals in Rostock to form the Simcoe Rostock Braves.
“It was inevitable that this would happen. Going to a three-year age group doesn’t help us one bit.” Walker said. “Last year when we began to play again, the conversation had already started.”
Over the last couple of years, Softball Canada has thought about changing the age categories. As a result, minor age categories will move from U6, U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 towards U7, U9, U11, U13, U15, U17 starting with the 2022 season. The U19 age category will move to U20 on the men’s side only, while the Women’s side will add a U23 category. The move to U20 begins next season.
Rostock, which is situated 20 minutes north of Stratford, was in a similar situation, so the two teams came together, not knowing what to expect.
“Our kids just wanted to play ball, but they really wanted to still be Simcoe Braves,” Walker said. “We’re here so the kids have a chance to keep playing, so we did what we could to keep it going. And since Hickson is the middle point between Simcoe and Rostock, we decided to play our home games there.”
In the Simcoe Rostock Braves opener Thursday, they outlasted the Wilmot Thunder 12-9, despite giving up six runs in the seventh inning.
The Braves got things moving in the first inning, when Danny Scott singled on a 3-1 count, scoring one run. They added four more runs in the fourth inning, led by a Cole Haviland single, a homerun by Ryan Gole, and an error on a ball put in play by Tyson Shillolo.
The Braves racked up 14 hits. Scott, Owen Bilinsky, Tripp Gilbert, and Haviland each rhad multiple hits , while Scott went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the way.
Scott led things off in the pitcher’s circle for the Braves, allowing two hits and zero runs over three innings, striking out three and walking one.
“I think we have a pretty decent team here,” Walker said. “We’re super young. We’ll be scrappy.
Braves are back in action on Sunday with a doubleheader vs the Chattsworth Longhorns