|Name:||1990 Fastball Champs – the Kemptville Peewee Royals|
“We were young enough to have fun but we still had a strong work ethic. The defence and the pitching were incredible that year. Darren and Collins hit them over the fence. Darren had that amazing no-hitter. Mr. Hay was all over the field with a cannon arm.” Winning the All-Ontario Peewee “B” Tournament is still fresh on the minds of the Royals, 30 years later.
It was a season most teams dream about, starting with a coach telling them they have what it takes to go all the way. Players start imagining home runs and strike outs that will bring them to a championship. In 1990 the Kemptville Royals won the Belleville tournament and the Ottawa Valley Peewee League, but lost in the playoff finals. They won the A championship in the Stittsville and Amherstview tournaments, and made the finals in Orleans (but lost to their arch rivals, the home team). And then on that fateful weekend, the Kemptville Peewee Royals made their dreams come true. They went undefeated in the All-Ontario Peewee “B” Tournament to become only the fifth Kemptville team to be crowned provincial champions.
Organized by the local Lions club, the Ontario Amateur Softball Association Tournament attracted teams from Orangeville, Dunnville, Simcoe, Cobourg, Pittsburg Township, Stittsville and Aurora to Kemptville. The two-day tournament at Riverside Park was blessed with ideal weather and field conditions. In the opening round, Kemptville beat Pittsburg Township. It was a hard-fought win, with the Royals trailing 5-4 after 5 innings against their determined opponents. However, three runs in the sixth gave the Royals the victory.
In the second round, Kemptville overpowered Aurora 15-0. The highlight of this match was a no-hitter thrown by pitcher Darren Robinson. In fact only one runner reached base for Aurora – and that was a one-out walk in the first inning. Darren went on to strike out nine of the fifteen men he faced in this five-inning game.
On the second day of the tournament Kemptville remained undefeated with a narrow 6-5 win over Simcoe. In this game the Royals built up a 4-0 lead after three innings, but Simcoe continued to fight back. Simcoe kept Kemptville scoreless over the next two innings while they scored two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to claim a 5-4 lead after five innings. Kemptville responded with a two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth for a 6-5 lead and ended the game with a double play in the top of the seventh to advance to the championship game.
Finally Simcoe defeated Orangeville and the scene was set for a showdown between the two strongest teams in the tournament: Simcoe and Kemptville. In the final game Simcoe sent six men to the plate, scoring two runs in the home half of the first inning. The second inning was scoreless and the third inning for Kemptville started quietly as well as the first batter was retired. However, consecutive walks put runners at first and second with one out. On a 3-0 count, Shawn King turned the game around with a home run over the right field fence, giving Kemptville a 3-2 lead. The Royals went on to score three more runs and jumped to a 6-2 lead. Two more runs for Simcoe brought the score to 6-4 for Kemptville after five innings. In the top of the sixth after two batters were retired, the Royals exploded for five runs to jump to a commanding 11-4 lead. Simcoe was unable to score in the sixth but kept Kemptville off the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the seventh, Simcoe did manage to score three runs to make the score 11-7, but a ground ball to second base ended their threat and gave the Royals the provincial championship. *
Although no individual stars are officially selected at Peewee tournaments, convenor Keith Forbes identified three players from the two final teams, including Kemptville’s pitcher Darren Robinson and second baseman Michael Craig. But 30 years later, the players agree, it was all about TEAM. Everyone was equal in talent and commitment, willing to lift each other up to the best they could be.