The Legionnaires put an exclamation point on their championship season by taking down the New Era 17-5 to sweep the final three games to none and claim the 2018 Rankin Inlet Co-ed Softball League (RICSL) title in Rankin on Aug. 22.

New Era defeated the Cubs in their semifinal, while the Legionnaires took out the Fireballs in their semi to set up the championship tilt.

The 2018 Rankin Inlet Co-ed Softball League champion Legionnaires are, back row from left, Craig Beardsall and young Jessie Ashoona, James Ayaruaq and his son, Keshawn, Donovan Amarualik Akerolik and his son, Inuksaq, Lee Kreelak, Chad Graham, Andrew Simms, Colton Graham and Chad Taipana, and, front from left, Kandace Graham and her daughter, Paris, Catherine Ayaruaq, Hilary Tulugak and bat boy Braylon Ayaruaq in Rankin on Aug. 22. Missing from photo are Carlo Issaluk, James Merritt, Addy Lindell and Amber Graham. photo courtesy Lee Kreelak

The Legionnaires win brought down the curtain on one of the RICSL’s most exciting seasons, with the four teams battling each other tooth and nail throughout the regular season and playoffs.

The league intends to build upon that success. Plans are already in place to host an umpire clinic prior to the 2019 season, with the league executive encouraging all four teams to have at least three players certified.

The co-ed circuit also plans to host a family softball weekend tournament during the preseason, and the dates for the 2019 Calm Air Cup have been tentatively set for Aug. 7 to 11, with all teams having to arrive in Rankin by Aug. 8 at the latest.

Legionnaires captain Lee Kreelak missed almost the league’s entire 2018 regular season due to work commitments.

The shortstop only played in three regular-season games before leading Kativik to the championship game of the Calm Air Cup this past month.

Kativik lost the national qualifier to the Salliq (Coral Harbour) Invaders by a single run in extra innings.

The majority of the Kativik squad suited up for the Legionnaires in league play and began their playoff run immediately following the regional tournament.

Kreelak said he felt a “little rusty” returning to action in the Calm Air Cup, but playing in the tournament had him firing on all cylinders when league playoffs began the following week.

He said playing seven round-robin and three playoff games in the tournament really helped him be ready for league playoffs.

“It can truly be a little difficult getting back up for the league playoffs after being in a tournament like the Calm Air Cup, with the caliber of ball played and the level of competition you face.

“New Era had an awesome season the year before but, because of how well everyone on our team was playing, I was not surprised at all that we swept them in the final despite not having players such as James Merritt and Carlo Issaluk in our lineup.

“Everyone stepped up and played their best ball of the season – all our guys and all our girls – and we celebrated together as a team by bringing the championship trophy to our local Legion for an evening.

“As we start to get a little older we realize we can’t take any season for granted – and we don’t know if the chance to win it all will ever come around again – so to go out and celebrate it together as a team was pretty cool.”

Darrell Greer

Darrell Greer is Editor of Kivalliq News

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