Team New Era pulled off a quarter-final comeback for the ages on its way to the recent 2019 Calm Air Cup mixed softball championship in Rankin Inlet.

The New Era trailed the Senators by five runs in its final at bat during the quarter final on Aug. 11.

The 2019 Calm Air Cup mixed softball champion New Era are, back row from left, Airo King, Tyrese Dias, Amy Kaludjak, Darren Ikakhik, Yvon Mamgark and Jayko Ashoona and, front from left, Gloria Kaludjak and Moses Aupilardjuk in Rankin Inlet on Aug. 11. Photo courtesy of Darren Ikakhik

The team’s first two batters made outs but, with only one out to work with, New Era stormed back and scored six runs to steal the victory.

From there, New Era demolished the tourney favourite Salliq (Coral Harbour) Invaders 16-4 in its semifinal and nipped the Rockies 11-10 in a thrilling final, turning a double play to end the game and claim the Calm Air Cup.

New Era captain Darren Ikakhik said meeting the Rockies in the tournament’s final game made it all that more special.

He said there has been a long rivalry between New Era and the Rockies (formerly known as the Juggernauts), and he’s sometimes invited to play on their team in various tournaments from year to year.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the quarter-final victory was the turning point for our team,” said Ikakhik.

“We had two outs, were down five runs in the final inning, and should have been done in that game. I could feel it slipping away, but I didn’t want us to lose.

“I just kept saying to my teammates that we could do it – we just had to get something going – and then we came all the way back to win.

“Coming back like that to win the quarter final was something else. It was just crazy and, after that, I knew we weren’t going to lose to anyone that day.”

Once again, the Calm Air Cup was dogged by rain on its playoff Sunday.

Ikakhik said the rain didn’t affect play that much because there was no real wind accompanying it.

“We’ve played this tournament with this kind of weather almost every year. Everyone’s gotten used to it by now, so we just live with it and play through it until the tournament is decided.

“There were a lot of competitive teams in the tournament this year because a number of players moved around a bit to different teams, which really evened-up the teams quite a bit, and both Coral and Arviat (Arctic Connectors) sent good teams.

“There were a few blowout games during the tournament, but most of the playoff round was close and very exciting for the players and the fans.

“From what I understand, winning the Calm Air Cup this year means we’ll get to travel to Kelowna, B.C., to compete in the Slo-Pitch National (SPN) during the August 2020 long weekend.”

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