The Trail Senior Men’s Orioles baseball team is getting a jump on the season with a four-game series against a Calgary team this weekend at Butler Park.
“I don’t think we’ve ever started this early, we usually start after May long weekend but the opportunity came up for the Calgary team to come in and play and we decided to take it,” said Orioles pitcher Chris Kissock. “We’re going to call it our mini spring-training I guess.”
While little is known about the visiting Alberta team, Orioles pitcher Chris Kissock is expecting a good test, similar to the game they played last season against Sidearm Nation, also out of Calgary, that resulted in a 3-2 loss for the Trail side.
“They won their league out there last year … and I’m sure they’re not going to travel this far and not bring a decent team.”
A couple of practices at Butler Park hasn’t exactly put the O’s in midseason form, but Kissock is positive about the turnout and his expectations for the coming season.
“It’s working out actually, we’re getting a few more guys out this year, and the guys seem more excited to come out and play and get started earlier.”
The Orioles are treating the contests as an early opportunity to warm-up for a campaign that is shaping up to be a 40-plus game season with their focus on the provincials and Western Canadian Championships. Last season the Orioles had a good showing at the provincials bowing out in the semifinal to the eventual champion Burnaby Bulldogs.
The Orioles will have many of their regulars back in the line up. However, ace Dallas Calvin won’t be on the mound this season after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier in the year, but will likely take a few swings as DH and play first base. The O’s will also see some new additions, with graduating players from the American Legion Trail AA Orioles moving up the ranks.
“There’s a few more younger kids that are going to be committing for sure,” said Kissock. “We could be really good, or like we normally are struggling for guys, but it seems there’s a little more interest this year.”
The O’s won’t be rejoining the Pacific International League (PIL), but are hoping to have an eight game home-and-away series with a Seattle-based team.
The schedule has yet to be finalized but after the weekend series, the Sr. Orioles will resume play at the end of May. In the meantime, most Oriole players will get into baseball shape by taking to the field in the Trail XBL League which started last week.
Another positive result from last season’s upgrade to the Butler Park infield, means the recent onslaught of rain shouldn’t effect the field too drastically, and the games (weather permitting) should carry on as scheduled.
“The field is really good. They put the new dirt in there last year, and it’s draining and it’s not puddling up anymore so that’s a good sign. It’s a lot softer, and when we were down there hitting ground balls and everything, it was actually a true bounce.”
The seven-inning games between the Orioles and Calgary will go Saturday at 2 and 4 p.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m. and noon at Butler Park.