Dictionary.com defines the word “hype” as “to intensify by questionable claims, methods, etc.”
There is nothing questionable about the way the Fredericton Peterbilt DQ Royals have been playing all season long, nor is there anything questionable about the hype surrounding the team going into the Senior National tournament.
The hype surrounding the team can be attributed to many different reasons: the 9.2 runs per game they are putting up this season, touting potential Triple Crown winner Mike Washburn (.512 average, nine homers, 41 RBIs) or maybe it’s having former Major Leaguer Matt Stairs back in Royals’ blue.
Whatever you go with as your reasoning for the hype, you can’t go wrong.
So far this season the Royals have been scoring runs at an unreal pace, which has made up for pitching and defence that, at times, has been inconsistent. To shore up the pitching staff the Royals will be picking up a pair of pitchers from the Saint John O’Leary’s Alpines, Pete Shaw and Shaun O’Toole. Shaw is no stranger to big-game pitching. Owner of a 3-3 mark with a 1.93 this season, Shaw had arguably one of the best pitching performances ever in the Canadian Intercollegiate Association National Championship tournament in 2007.
Shaw opened the tournament up with a no hitter against the host, Atlantic Baptist University (currently Crandall University), and then topped it off with another no hitter in the finals against Concordia. The thought of teaming up with the Royals’ high powered offence is a pretty good one for Shaw.
“So far in my life I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel with teams to national tournaments,” says Shaw, who has walked 16 and struck out 18 in 32 2/3 innings this season,” but this has to be the most talented hitting line up that I have been a part of.
“It takes a lot of pressure off the pitcher when you know your team will score. And I know this team will score runs in Windsor. I am really hoping that I can play a big part for the team at nationals on the mound, but I know how tournaments can go and I am also very prepared to do the small things that help the club too.”
O’Toole is 3-3 with a 2.89 ERA, walking 16, striking out 38 in 43 2/3 innings. With a veteran lineup that features past Triple Crown winners Jody Petersonand Dave Barr, and potential Triple Crown winner Washburn, as well as Stairs, it’s hard to believe that this team won’t be able to score in the tournament.
“What I like about this team is it has a lot of depth in the order and power from 1-9,” said Stairs. “If we swing the bats the way we know how, I can see this team going a long way. But it’s tough because you won’t know what type of pitching you will face. You won’t see a better fastball hitting team than the Royals.”
With the Royals having five guys on the team being 35 years or older time might be running out for a national championship. Steve McCarty, Derek Wilson,John Burns, Peterson and Stairs are all regular contributors to the team, and all nearing the end of their careers.
Manager Mike Lint knows the strength of his team lies with the offence, but isn’t quick to look past the experience that those players, and others bring to the table.
“It’s so huge for us,” says Lint about the veteran presence on his club. “We have been fortunate to have the opportunity to go away to these tournaments. Fortunate, but at the same time it’s stuff that these guys have worked for. “We are there every year because we deserve to be. Burns, Jody, Barr, Wilson, and all the way down the list, those guys have so much experience at the National level that to us it’s not just another ball game, but there’s no shock and awe to the games.”
With the strong level of talent paired with tournament experience on the Royals there is plenty to be excited about going into the tournament. And with the light at the end of the tunnel nearing for some of the players, this may be the best opportunity they have to bring home the national title that has eluded these players for so long.