The 2016 Little League Majors Provincial Championship got underway Saturday at Chris Zuehlke Park in North Vancouver with the Trail Major All Stars splitting their opening games.
Trail defeated New Westminster 9-3 on Saturday before falling to Highland 9-6 on Monday morning after having a day off on Sunday.
Coach D.J. Ashman is savouring the challenge of another BC championship with a strong lineup bolstered by strong representation from around the Kootenays, including five players from Nelson, four from Trail, two from Beaver Valley, one from Castlegar, and one from Kimberley. For the past month the team has been working out in two-a-day practices and tournaments on the weekend, so that preparation shouldn’t be an issue.
“Our team looks really good,” said Ashman. “Our parents are really impressed with our practices, we’re having lots of fun, the kids are looser this year, and right now it’s just a good feeling.”
Trail plays at 10 a.m. against Kerrisdale today and Ashman is hoping familiarity with the teams from past championships will give his team an edge.
“We definitely have a plan in place for the first three games and then we’ll go from there. Hopefully we win two or three first three and then from there it will be easy – as long as the plan works.”
Pitching is key, and the coaches are confident that if they can keep the pitch counts down, with the help of good defence, the Trail arms should hold up well through the tournament.
“If we can do that, we can get more innings with less pitches, then the guys can last a bit deeper into games without having to burn them to 84 or 85 pitches.”
Two years ago the Trail Minor All Star team, with virtually the same roster, went all the way to the provincial semifinal and Ashman is hoping for the same result in the Major provincials.
“We only have three different kids who weren’t on that team two years ago and we like those three kids that are on the team,” said Ashman. “So it all depends on how the teams have developed from two years ago, and we think our kids have developed pretty good.”
The games continue throughout the week where all teams play each other once. The playoffs start Saturday July 30, with the final going Sunday at 1 p.m.