While pitchers and catchers from across the MLB reported to their spring training camps throughout Florida and Arizona, the TRU men’s baseball team participated in a little spring training themselves. The team left the cold of Kamloops behind and took their annual trip down to the sunny southern U.S. playing ten games in the state of Arizona between Feb. 10 and Feb. 18.
The team flew down to Las Vegas for a couple days of practice before travelling to Arizona to play games against various teams from the club, junior college and university ranks throughout the state.
The ‘Pack finished their trip with a record of 2 wins and 8 losses, scoring victories over the Chandler Gilbert Community College club team, as well as Mesa Community College.
Although the team’s record while down south may not look great, the competition across the border is quite strong.
“It’s a totally different world compared to what we’re used to playing up here. We are playing teams that are ranked in the top 10 in the U.S., but that helps our guys learn and helps our guys hopefully get better,” said assistant coach Alex Reid.
This is going to be a year of transition for the ‘Pack, as most of the starting nine from last year have graduated and TRU has over 20 rookies on its roster. With all of those younger players on the team, the play and leadership of the veterans becomes even more important says Reid.
“Huge, our game pretty much revolves around Evan (Douglas). If he does well, our team does well, we saw it down in Arizona. It’s also going to take guys like Tony (Tabor), John (Young) and other guys to step up and help Evan because he can’t do it all himself. It’s going to take a lot of guys stepping up, Evan hitting the ball and that will give us the best chance to win.”
Douglas, the team’s starting catcher, had a strong showing throughout the trip. The reigning all-star began to prove that he was more than capable of leading the way offensively for the ‘Pack, especially in TRU’s win over Mesa, when he collected two RBIs on two doubles in the contest.
Of course, the trip is about more than just the results on the field. The opportunity to go on a road trip with teammates for over a week is one that will lead to the ‘Pack becoming a closer team both on and off the field.
“You can’t just go down there and solely think about baseball, you have to go down there and enjoy yourselves. Especially with the younger guys, learning each other and getting to know each other off the field is important. It helps you on the field because now you understand each other,” Reid said.
With spring training behind them the team can now turn their focus toward achieving something that they haven’t accomplished since 2009: taking home the crown as the Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference (CCBC) playoff champions.
That isn’t to say that the team has been without success however. The ‘Pack has finished either first or second in the regular season for the past six seasons running, and has three regular season first place trophies during that time span.
The CCBC regular season gets underway March 19, when the ‘Pack welcomes newcomers to the league, the Fraser Valley Collegiate Baseball Group in a double-header played at TRU’s home-field, Norbrock stadium.