The Soo Black Sox were hosts for its annual Invitational Tournament during the weekend of June 10-12th, at Sinclair Yards. The double round robin event featured a three-team showing: the host Black Sox, the EUP Travellers, and last year’s tournament-winning Gladwin Post 171 select club. Though the tournament was small in numbers it was fierce in competition.
Over the stretch of the local competition, Gladwin managed to edge out its opponents, finishing with a 4-0 record. This was enough to secure them the 2016 Black Sox Invitational Championship.
In turn, the modest 2-2 tournament record of the EUP Travellers does not do them justice. Both of the Michigan-based select team’s losses came in tightly contested matches with Gladwin. Their first meeting resulted in a 2-0 loss for EUP. Connor Myers, EUP’s veteran left-hander, went the full 7 innings neutralizing the explosive Gladwin offense to just 2 runs on 5 hits.
“This group here is probably the best team I’ve had, on paper, in the 17 years I’ve coached this team. We have some older kids who have played college baseball, and some who are going to play college ball next year,” said Mitchell.
The second battle between the two clubs concluded with a 7-1 victory for Gladwin. “I thought we played well defensively, except for one inning. We made two errors and they capitalized on it- that’s what good teams do.”
Much of EUP’s strength lies in its depth. Its mixture of older and younger athletes ranging from ages 15-19 will provide the coaching staff with flexibility going forward. Having kids from all-over the Eastern-Upper Peninsula, Mitchell looks forward to seeing the players gel as a team.
The main highlight for the local club came in game 3 of 4, where the Soo Black Sox offense jumped to a 5-0 lead against the juggernaut Gladwin lineup. “Considering how little experience the majority of our team has, I’d say this year’s offense is a big step up from last year,” said game 3’s starting pitcher, Connor Henderson. “We’re a raw bunch, but our potential is high. Our chemistry is the best it’s been in the four years I’ve played.”
Overall, this year’s tournament was a great success.