VIBI Mariners' bats get cracking

Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners player Chad Schultz makes contact during batting practice Tuesday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium. The college team starts its season March 24. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners player Chad Schultz makes contact during batting practice Tuesday afternoon at Serauxmen Stadium. The college team starts its season March 24.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

In the big leagues, spring training baseball has warm-sounding names like the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League. In Nanaimo, there were a few snowflakes blowing around on Tuesday afternoon as the VIBI Mariners held batting practice at a puddly Serauxmen Stadium.

Winter weather, as usual, has been one of the early season challenges for the Vancouver Island Baseball Institute program. Amongst the cancellations, the M’s have gotten in four games against U.S. college teams this month, going 1-3.

With the Canadian College Baseball Conference season starting March 24, VIBI’s bats are starting to come around.

“Guys are starting to look better at the plate, more comfortable. They’re starting to get their timing,” said Tyler Moretti, assistant coach. “It’s hurt us not having as many games as we’ve had in the past, so guys are a little bit behind where they have been. But you can see guys coming along.”

When at-bats are limited at this time of year, it’s important to approach hitting with the right frame of mind, said outfielder Cody Phipps.

“A lot of it’s mental. Being prepared for what you’re going to see,” he said. “Just imagining the feel of hitting a ball well helps a lot. Take mental BP. That sort of thing does help.”

VIBI catcher Jeremy Harasymchuk said it’s important to put the effort in and make the most of practices and games.

“You can always work on putting better at-bats together, better swings, getting the job done on bunts and situational stuff,” he said.

Moretti said by facing tough U.S. college pitchers, the M’s batters have had to face some of the best arms they’ll see all season. It might hurt confidence a little bit, but the positives still far outweigh the negatives.

“The more you face better pitchers, the better you’re going to get,” Harasymchuk said. “You always try to raise to your level of competition.”

Generally in baseball, the pitchers are thought to have the edge early in the season as hitters hone the timing of their swings. As the season progresses, said the M’s, the bats will catch up. The Mariners have potential to be a hard-hitting ball club this spring.

“Stats haven’t said it so far, but it’s early,” said Phipps. “We have a team that can put together some runs.”

A lot of different guys can be contributors, said Harasymchuk.

“We should be able to score a lot of runs on most pitchers,” he said. “We won’t be overmatched by many.”

BASE LINES … VIBI lost to Yakima on the road Sunday by scores of 10-4 and 3-2. Cody Andreychuk had two RBIs in the first game and Harasymchuk had two hits in the second game. The M’s play at Moses Lake, Wash. on Friday (March 16) and Saturday … For more on the VIBI Mariners, visit the club's official site.

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