While the Trail Major All-Star team gets set to host the B.C. championship at Andy Bilesky Park later this month, Trail’s other Little League team is prepping for provincials as well this week.
Trail’s Little League Minor All-Stars recently formed and is hitting the field and the ball hard to prepare for the provincial championship in North Vancouver July 13.
“We’re a 10 and under classification, and it’s a team mixed up of Trail (7), Castlegar (2), Fruitvale (2) and Nelson (1) players,” said Trail minor all-star team coach Chris Elwood.
The wet month has put a damper on the team’s practice schedule, and with just over a week left, the team has scheduled a flurry of practices and a tournament in Potlatch, Idaho this weekend.
The Trail minor team is coming off a wake up call in Coeur d’Alene where they faced teams in an older age group, and while the team battled hard, it came away without a win.
“They were pretty intimidated going out there, but we were in every game through four innings and then the fifth and sixth – it left us,” said Elwood. “It’s simple things, it’s just making the easy plays and hitting the ball. The pitching was good and the catching was good. I think it will come.”
Pitching plays a vital role in the provincial tournament as each pitcher is kept on a pitch count and the more balls thrown, the longer the hurler has to sit out.
If a pitcher throws 20 or less pitches he or she can pitch the next day. Over 20 but less than 35 requires the player to take a day off of pitching. Above 35 and the player isn’t allowed to pitch for two days.
The biggest challenge for the coach is planning a rotation with a strict pitch count, against teams they know virtually nothing about.
“If we’re in a game and we’re battling hard, then maybe we’ll leave our pitcher in for the full amount and he’ll have to sit for days, pitching wise. It’s one of those risks you take.”
Elwood is pleased with the team’s depth on the mound led by aces Lucas Miracle, Dawson Clow, and Nate Ingram.
“I think we’ll go into our first game and we’ll start who we think will give us the best chance to win. Not everyone’s going to pitch well everyday so we’ll just hope for the best.”
The Trail team will face five teams from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island that are still embroiled in district playoffs.
“We just want to compete. Hope to do as well as we can, and give these kids an experience so they can go up to the older age groups. I know D. J. (Ashman, coach of the Trail majors) demands a lot out of his team and this will give them an idea of what they need to aspire to.”
Trail last went to the Minor provincials in 2010 and finished with a 1-5 record.