Ashley Stephenson's name is synonymous with Baseball Canada's Women's National Team. A member of the squad from 2004-2018, she played in everything from World Cups to Pan-Am Games and everything in-between. She was also a two-time winner of the Jimmy Rattlesnake Award for her on-field accomplishments, team spirit and leadership. That award was later renamed in her honour. After Stephenson's playing career came to a close, she joined the national team's coaching staff then took over as head coach, hitting the field for the first time in her new role this summer in the Canada-US Friendship Series. She's a trailblazer, and recently added to her list of accomplishments by being named the first woman to hold a coaching position at the Canadian Futures Showcase, formerly known as Tournament-12. We recently caught up for a candid conversation about baseball, coaching philosophies, life and much more.
The Calgary International Film Festival will have a baseball flavour to it this year (September 22-October 2). “It Ain’t Over” takes a look at the life and times of New York Yankees great and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. Famous for his on-field play as well as his wit, humour and “Yogi-isms”, Berra was also misunderstood. Director Sean Mullin tries to set the record straight by chatting with Berra’s granddaughter Lindsay as well as former teammates, sports writers and admirers like Billy Crystal. Our Ian Wilson wrote a story recently about his chat with Mullin, and here now is that conversation.
Every college player dreams of making an impact with their summer baseball league. Braden Desonia did more than that in his first season with the Medicine Hat Mavericks. The 6’1”, 165-pound centrefielder was a terror for opposing pitchers and defenses, hitting .348 with five home runs and 42 runs batted in while stealing a Western Canadian Baseball League record 42 stolen bases, 15 more than anyone else. Desonia was also a WCBL All-Star, taking part in the festivities in Okotoks, stealing the show at the Home Run Derby, not with his power, but with the storyline of a last-minute request to have his dad, who was flying in from Mead, Washington, be his pitcher. It was a heartfelt moment in a season to remember for the Desonia family. Near the end of the regular season, our Ian Wilson recently chatted with them both about the opportunities and experiences of baseball north of the 49th parallel.
There was already a lot of buzz around Edmonton’s Michael Yusypchuk before he joined Team Alberta for this year’s Canada Summer Games in Ontario. Last year’s Baseball Alberta 15U “AAA” Player of the Year has been spectacular with St. Albert Minor Baseball Association teams over the years, is heading to Dawgs Academy in Okotoks, and has already committed to Missouri State. Well, he added to that legacy during the summer games with a no-hitter in the semi-final against BC, striking out seven and was a walk away from the perfect game in a 4-0 victory. Alberta went on to win silver in the tournament, and once the dust settled, we caught up with Yusypchuk to talk about the performance, his baseball journey and what he believes his ceiling might be, as the Canadian Baseball Network has him listed as a top-5 Canadian to be chosen in the 2024 MLB Draft.
It was quite the spectacle in Toronto recently as the Blue Jays marked the 30th anniversary of their 1992 World Series championship. Fans were able to re-live those memories as the stars like Joe Carter, Dave Winfield and Devon White came back to town to celebrate the occasion. That team also had a few connections to its Pioneer League affiliate that won its first title a decade earlier. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Medicine Hat Blue Jays taking home what would become its only championship. Pat Borders, David Wells and Jimmy Key were among those who were with the Baby Jays that season. On this week's episode, we take a trip down memory lane with a couple of key members of that team: Keith Gilliam and Kash Beauchamp.
The countdown is on to the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Four cities will host the tournament from March 8th-21st. Canada will be in tough in Pool C with the defending champion United States along with Mexico, Columbia and one of four qualifier teams. There will be two qualifier tournaments, with Pool “A” in Germany from September 16th-21st, and Pool “B” in Panama from September 30th-October 5th. There will be some Alberta talent in Pool “B” with Amar Mahmood. The Edmonton product has been named to the roster for Pakistan, which is where his parents are from. He’s a rising star from AHP Academy, having already committed to De Anza College in the California Community College Association. The 18-year-old took some time this past week to chat with us about his baseball journey, his love of the game and what it means to represent his roots.
2022 will be remembered as the first season with the Edmonton Riverhawks of the West Coast League. In the ultra-competitive North Division, the Riverhawks made a push for the second half pennant, falling just short during the final weekend, finishing with an overall record of 25-28. Several hometown products were able to crack the roster, including outfielder Clayton Loranger. The Sherwood Park native was outstanding, hitting .365 with two home runs, 30 RBI, and 27 stolen bases in 47 games en route to being named a WCL First Team All-Star. We caught up with the 5-11, 195-pound Stephen F. Austin State University senior recently to talk about his summer and what it meant to be a part of the inaugural season as a hometown hero.
For a sixth time in franchise history, the Okotoks Dawgs are the top dogs of the Western Canadian Baseball League. In front of a packed Seaman Stadium, the Dawgs clinched the title with a 4-1 win over the Moose Jaw Miller Express Thursday night. Head to our website to check out the full story. After the game, we caught up with Playoff MVP Brendan Luther, outfielder Micah McDowell, pitcher Matt Wilkinson, infielder Ricky Sanchez, outfielder Alejandro Cazorla and head coach Mitch "Big Bear" Schmidt.
What a week it was in Calgary for the Canadian Little League Championships. Not only was the weather fantastic, but the baseball was second-to-none as teams from around the country vied for the right to represent the maple leaf in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The final was held Friday with Moose Jaw taking on the Little Mountain Baseball All-Stars, competing as Team BC. And with a 9-4 victory, BC has now won 15 of the last 16 Canadian regional championships. Our Ian Wilson was in attendance and managed to catch up with some of the players, coaches and organizers for the event, which received rave reviews from all involved. Hear from players Jaxon Mayervich and Alden Yu. manager Ulysses Yan, and 2022 tournament chair Allan Chatenay on this week's episode.
This week, we take a look back at a great accomplishment by Dawgs Academy’s 18U Black squad. They headed south of the border for a few tournaments over the summer, including the Perfect Game World Series in West Palm Beach, Florida. After going 3-1-1 in the round-robin, the Dawgs didn’t turn back, beating NEB National 4-2 in the final. Dawgs starter Tyrelle Chadwick, who picked up the win in the final with a 3-hit, 3-walk, 5-strikeout in six-plus inning performance, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher. While he’s only 19, he already has experience in summer college ball with the Dawgs Black WCBL squad in 2021 and then his hometown Kamloops NorthPaws for a few games before coming back to the Academy this summer. An Illinois State recruit, he’s also the son of former Edmonton Trappers and California Angels pitcher and current TRU Wolfpack head coach Ray Chadwick. We caught up with the promising young right-hander to talk about his baseball journey, winning the Perfect Game tournament and what he’d like to one day accomplish.