The fledgling squad took the field for a trio of games at the Icebreaker tournament in Lethbridge over the Apr. 26 weekend, and while they were unable to find the win column, there were enough positives that head coach Ray Wareham is plenty optimistic when it comes to their chances in league action back in Saskatchewan this year.
“I was pretty happy, I thought we played well, ‘Wareham said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect since this is the first time Moose Jaw has had a Bantam AAA team in a number of years, but the kids played scrappy and played hard and came out on the losing side, unfortunately.”
The Canucks opened with a 3-0 loss to Saskatoon on Friday before dropping a 6-4 decision to Red Deer on Saturday and a 6-3 decision to Red Deer in a rematch later that day.
Competition on Sunday was snowed out.
“Talking to some of the coaches out there, some of their teams had been together all winter working together when we’d just been outside the last couple of weeks,” Wareham said. “So I was pleasantly surprised, there’s stuff we can work with and now we just have to get outside. We know what to improve on and just have to get to work.’
The decision to move up to AAA Bantam – or 15-and-under – came out of the number of players who had been opting to play at that level with teams out of Regina. The Moose Jaw Minor Baseball Association saw strong enough registration numbers this season to try and rectify that issue by forming both AAA and AA teams.
“So that’s good for baseball in Moose Jaw and hopefully we can develop these kids to the point we eventually have Midget AAA baseball back in Moose Jaw as well,” Wareham said.
“The numbers are there and now it’s our job to develop these kids. At the lower levels there’s some pretty good talent coming up too, so if we can just set the foundation and establish these AAA teams, hopefully Moose Jaw can get back on the map as far as AAA baseball goes.”
What Wareham saw from his charges on the weekend – and as the scores showed – was some solid pitching and decent defence offset by a bit of scuffling at the plate. The weather might have had something to do with that, but Wareham wasn’t using it as an excuse, just a factor that might have hampered evaluation a touch.
“It was really cold and on Sunday we had that snowstorm, so we didn’t get to play,” he said. “Saturday night, I don’t know how they were even able to grip the baseball or hold a bat it was so cold. That’s the same for both teams though, just something we all had to battle through.
“But what we saw is really encouraging, we faced some really good competition and when we have a chance to play some more games it’ll be interesting to see where we are.”
The Bantam AAA Canucks are back in action Saturday when they travel to Swift Current.