As the Peguis Redmen and Mohawks gear up for a winter in the rink, Mike Sutherland’s Redmen softball team can look back on a summer to remember.
The Redmen finished the season’s tournament campaign with a 13-3 mercy-rule win over Skownan First Nation in the championship final of the big event in Melville, Sask. Skownan even brought in a pitcher from Toronto and yet they still couldn’t match up with the Redmen.
Peguis had a tremendous tournament to finish the season as pitcher Eddy Stevenson was named MVP and shortstop Tyler Woodhouse won the Golden Glove Award as best fielder.
It was a victory that put an exclamation point on a summer of success, improvement and learning.
“We had a pretty deadly August,” said Sutherland with a smile. “The boys started out playing the Native Canadians in Calgary. We went there with 12 guys and only one pitcher. It’s tough with teams buying up pitchers. Wausheken Redmen from the East had four pitchers. We went there with our local guy Eddy Stevenson and made it to the top 4. We just ran out of steam on Sunday.”
Injuries played a big role in the Redmen’s fourth-place finish (out of 24 teams).
“Our catcher took a line drive to the elbow and so we had no catcher and had to forfeit our third-place game on Sunday,” said Sutherland. “STK from Kelowna won it, but it was a $40,000 team from Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. So, we’re pleased that our little club team finished fourth and we’ll be seeded next year.”
Perhaps, the team’s biggest event and best showing came in late August at the ISC World Championships just outside Green Bay, Wisc. Led by head coach Ferdi Nelissen, shortstop Woodhouse and pitcher Tony Sparvier, the Redmen finished fourth in the world in the ISC 2 Division.
“Tyler played very well,” said Sutherland. “Tyler is Tyler. He comes into every tournament and gives his best effort. It’s interesting, but he was already down there before the tournament. He was helping with a group he works with out of the Sun Lodge in Peguis. They were doing a Warrior Dance for an Ojibway group just outside of Green Bay. So, he would go to work and then join us to play.
“Virden McKay from Cross Lake joined us and we had Eddy, Tyler, Joey Sutherland, Alex Sutherland, Devon Garson. We lost our catcher, D.J. Stevenson. He played a tournament in Cross Lake after NAIG and broke his finger. That really hurt us. All in all, it was our second year at the ISC and we got to play six games and that was a big improvement. Ferdi and Victor Sutherland, our trainer, my cousin and Alex’s dad, took the team and they did a great job. The boys love him. He’s been there nine times as a player and four times as a coach. He’s a helluva guy who knows his ball.”
“We got invitations to four tournaments in the States, one in San Antonio, the Boys of Summer and the Norsemen Tournament out of Mankato, Minn.”
Sutherland knocks himself to raise the funds necessary to take this Redmen team on the road every summer. Without corporate support, this club would never reach the world championship tournament.
“Without corporate sponsors, we couldn’t do any of this, so I spend a lot of time fundraising. But the boys are making a name for themselves. They are playing at a world championship level.”