Former Trail AAA Jays pitcher Dallas Calvin works out at Butler Park prior to leaving for Langley where he will play with the Langley Blaze baseball club this season.

Former Trail AAA Jays pitcher Dallas Calvin works out at Butler Park prior to leaving for Langley where he will play with the Langley Blaze baseball club this season.

Pitcher throws in with Blaze

A Trail athlete has made a difficult decision that will see him trade his hockey stick for the baseball bat this winter.

A Trail athlete has made a difficult decision that will see him trade his hockey stick for the baseball bat this winter.

Dallas Calvin, a talented hockey and baseball player, has chosen the diamond over the ice, as he prepares to join the Langley Blaze baseball development program this week.

Calvin a standout for the KIJHL champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks last year was also invited back to the Kamloops Blazers training camp of the Western Hockey League this month.

The 17-year-old left-handed pitcher says it was a very tough decision not to go.

“I don’t want to give up hockey, but I don’t want to give up either sport I guess. I gave hockey a try last year and it didn’t really work out, so I thought I’d try baseball and hopefully I’ll take it somewhere.”

The Langley Blaze’s premier baseball program for players age 16-18 begins Tuesday, with eight coaches running five to six practices per week with instruction from ex-college and professional players.

The team will play approximately 24 games commencing in September until mid October, when the team heads indoors to its winter facility to refine skills and work with trainers on physical conditioning.

“I am really excited, I can’t wait,” said Calvin as he gets set to join the team, adding they have some quality coaching and will play up to 110 games during the year.

Calvin joined the Blaze for a 10 game swing through southern California early last month, hitting .500 and getting the victory in his only start without giving up a run.

The Blaze manager Doug Mathieson was impressed with Calvin’s performance and likes his potential, saying he was good enough to step into the Blaze’s starting lineup.

“He’s got a good bat, though he probably has a better chance as a pitcher to go pro,” said Mathieson. “Left-handed pitchers who are six-foot-four tend to draw some attention.”

Playing with the Blaze will give Calvin lots of exposure as the team makes trips to Arizona, Florida, and California for tournaments and training this season, playing in front of hundreds of scouts and colleges.

“I think everything 18 and under is development, but we try to prepare kids for college or pro ball, that’s our number one goal,” said Mathieson.

The Blaze’s 2012 team had 10 players receive scholarships to post-secondary institutions in Canada and the U.S.

The Blaze will also participate in a spring training camp in Arizona in March before starting a 48-game schedule in the B.C. Premier Baseball League in the spring/summer, as well as playing in tournaments in B.C. and the U.S.

“(My goal) is just to get better, and hopefully get a scholarship,” said Calvin. “Hopefully some things come up this year.”

While Calvin will be focusing on baseball, he still plans to bring his hockey gear to the coast to get in a little recreational ice time.

Langley Blaze have had 29 players drafted since 2001 including three first-round picks in the last four years which is an accomplishment that very few top U.S. programs have equalled.

Castlegar’s Travis Nevakshonoff is also a Blaze alumni drafted in 2007 in the 29th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.

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