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By Darryl G. Smart

All the Simcoe Hydro One Giants 9U team has wanted to do this summer is compete. And through it all, Ryan Meade and his coaching staff have noticed that the group of eight- and nine-year-olds really enjoy just more than just competing now that they’ve got a taste of it.

On the weekend, the Giants continued to roll, winning two games Saturday and two more Sunday en route to capturing the Southern Counties Baseball Association 9U title.

“Everyone was super pumped about this,” Meade, the team’s coach said. “This past weekend, every game they got better. They saw what was coming if we won and they really thrived.”

Thanks to their league-leading 14-2 regular season record, the Giants had a bye and opened up the tournament Saturday with a 17-6 win over Aylmer. Later in the day they handed Ingersoll a 11-9 loss in a tight one, before punching a ticket to the final with a 13-3 win over Ingersoll on Sunday. In the final, the Giants kept the hot bats going and defeated Aylmer 15-5 to win the championship.

“That game against Ingersoll (Saturday) was a great fight,” Meade said. “The bats came alive and the kids really tightened up as the weekend went along. It was so great to see the way they made great defensive plays.”

Meade said seeing the team play now really puts things in perspective, considering that the team had to really go back to basics when things began.

“We started the season with a group of strong athletes, but with COVID limiting the previous year’s experience, we had to start teaching the basics of baseball again,” Meade said. “Luckily we have a dedicated group of coaches who have been up for the task. And the players we had took great pride in learning the game.”

 After a couple of losses early in the season, Meade said the Giants haven’t looked back.

“With every team being shut down for the last two years, as a group of eight- and nine-year-olds, this was their first taste of a competitive championship. I believe this group enjoyed every minute of the weekend.”

And this weekend is something Meade and the coaches hope the young players can turn into a huge confidence boost now that they are also competing for a provincial title for the first time. After going 4-1 in the first round of the Ontario Baseball Assocaition’s August Madness earlier this month against Chatham and Leamington, the Giants are in the second round against Welland and Leamington.

Monday, the Giants had to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie Welland 12-12 at Stalker Park.

“Their drive for success has only increased, and they challenged themselves against bigger teams in the OBA August Madness B division, defeating teams like Chatham and Leamington,” Meade said. “We played four games on the weekend in Aylmer. Each game the coaches took notice of how the intensity level kept increasing. These kids want it and want to succeed.”

The team consists of Emerson Beck, Mason Ferrier, Lane Graham, Carter Greenfield, Nathan Greenfield, Cooper Horton, Emerson Meade, Nathan Sovereign, Markus Woodley, Jaxx Bacher, Andrew Breedyk, Dexton Meade. Coaches Ryan Meade, Jay Woodley, Nate Breeedyk, Jon Sovereign.