HALIFAX: Baseball Nova Scotia handed out its annual awards recently.

Ellie MacAulay of St. Peter’s was co-winner of the Major Female Athlete award. MacAulay had a monster year in the Baseball Nova Scotia girl’s programs.

Representing the province on the prospect team at the Senior Women Nationals, she was one of the youngest in the competition, competing against women more than double her age. MacAulay spent most of the tournament batting lead-off for the prospect team, and playing in the outfield. She lead the team in runs with nine. MacAulay also saw three and 2/3 innings on the mound. Her performance helped lead the team to a silver medal, and an invite to the final 26 players to contend for a spot on the Canadian National team.

MacAulay followed this performance up by heading to Stonewall, Manitoba with the Nova Scotia 21U Women’s, and helping lead the team to a bronze medal finish.

Two weeks later, she would dominate the 16U Nationals in Bedford. She went 14 for 24 at the plate, finishing with a .583 batting average, the top on the team and one of the top in the tournament. On the mound, she dominated British Columbia in a relief appearance in the round robin, and was instrumental in the team’s semi-final victory over Alberta. Against a high powered Alberta offence, she pitched four and 1/3 innings, with seven strike-outs. The team would capture a silver medal.

To cap it off, she finished the season with a 15U A Provincial Gold medal on the Strait Area Sting. MacAulay is the first athlete from Nova Scotia to win three national medals in the same season.

The award for Grassroots Coach of the Year went to Shawn Samson who founded the Isle Madame Mariners in 2014 after there was no minor baseball on the island the previous two seasons. He coaches and is present (to the best of his ability) at every T-Ball, 11U, 13U, 15U and Richmond Amateur Baseball Association Mariners games/practice.

If it wasn’t for Samson, there may not be baseball on Isle Madame. In a just a few short years, he has developed an association to be extremely proud of. He dedicates much of his summer to the kids in the area and this dedication is truly appreciated by the local baseball community. There are not many people that start an association and coach every single team from T-ball right up to the RABA.

A constant and supportive voice on the field, Samson is a shining example of the important impact grassroots coach can have on its community.

Randy Crouse of Antigonish was named Volunteer of the Year. Crouse has been the driving force behind Challenger Baseball in this province for many years.

In 2013 when Ian McLean came to Nova Scotia to encourage associations to take on Challenger, Crouse was there ready to bring it back to Antigonish. As players and buddies started turning up, he took on the newly formed role of Director of Challenger Baseball for Baseball Nova Scotia. Then he got to work growing this program everywhere. Hammonds Plains, Truro, New Glasgow, Pictou County and more began taking on the program. His passion and enthusiasm made people want to work towards the same goal – inclusion for all players. He has set up meetings, gone to sports fairs, and reached out to various support groups in the community. Crouse also sends out communication constantly about grant opportunities and coaching sessions to existing members. His organizational and communication skills are one of his strong suits as well.

As if he decided he wasn’t busy enough, Crouse become the national chair for Challenger Baseball. He now works side-by-side with the Blue Jays and Baseball Canada to create new programs, ideas and interesting ways to teach and grow the game of baseball within this unique groups of athletes. Finally, Crouse is the driving force in raising a half a million dollars to build a beautiful accessible field for his players in Antigonish. He has for years organized baseball games and the Provincial Jamborees. He has been the leader at the community, provincial and now national level. Without him, it’s unlikely Challenger Baseball would be as successful as it is today.