After numerous rainouts in the past week, the Trail AAA Jays are readying Butler Park for the Trail Jays/Safety Net Security Mid-Summer Classic this weekend.
Recent torrential rains made Butler unplayable for the West Kootenay Diamondbacks and Phillies on Sunday, and rained out the Trail Babe Ruth senior baseball final Tuesday, but the Trail Jays are confident that its annual tournament will go off without a hitch.
“I was hoping to get some sunshine (today), but it (the weather) looks good for our tournament,” said Jays coach Nick Combo as he and the team helped City workers prepare the field Wednesday.
Combo is optimistic that the upcoming tournament will be a go, and current forecasts call for mostly sunny skies until Sunday.
After completely tilling the dirt in an effort to absorb some of the water, the crews compacted the infield, groomed the edges, and removed standing water.
“We’re just putting the finishing touches on making Butler look good for the tournament,” said Combo.
The City of Trail’s Gerry Bertolucci is satisfied with the progress, but said sunshine is still the best remedy.
The Jays host the St. Albert Cardinals, Regina Mets, Penticton Tigers, Spokane North Stars and Northeast 49ers in a round-robin format that throws out the first pitch Friday when the 49ers play the Cardinals at 11 a.m.
The Trail Jays first game goes at 8 p.m. against first-time attendees Regina Mets.
The Mets are an elite AAA midget team that plays in the Saskatchewan Premiere Baseball League. The Mets won the SPBL championship in 2009 and are currently in eighth spot with a 6-13 record.
Outfielder and 16-year-old phenom Brendan Hill leads the Mets in hitting with a .459 average, and last year won the Western Canadian Championships with the Bantam AAA Regina Pacers.
Other teams to watch are the defending champion 49ers, the North Stars, as well as the St. Albert Cardinals a team that has matured a lot, says Combo.
“A lot of the teams that are coming back were pretty young the past couple years, so they will be a lot better this year.”
The teams each play four games with the top two seeds playing for the championship game on Monday.
After going 3-1, the Jays lost in last year’s final 3-2 against the 49ers and are looking for a measure of revenge.
With the Jays coming off a solid performance at the Bellingham tournament last weekend, Combo is hoping this week will result in a final appearance.
“We’ve just got to come in with the same approach we’ve had the last couple weeks, competing each game and not being focused on the end result, just competing and take it one inning at a time . . . The past two years we’ve been in the championship both times, and I think the guys know it’s our home tournament and a good chance for them to show Trail what Jays baseball is all about, and I think that’s something these kids are using as motivation to try to get back to the championship,” said Combo.
Before the tourney starts, the Jays face the Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen in North Idaho American Legion action at Butler on Thursday with games at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.