Part of the challenge of this week’s big tournament is the element of the unknown.
When the Nanaimo Pirates peewee AAA all-stars face Manitoba Midwest on Thursday (Aug. 25) in their first game of Baseball Canada’s Peewee Western Championships, they won’t really know what to expect.
“We don’t really know anything about them,” said Jordan Romine, co-coach of the peewee Pirates. “All we can really do is prepare for what we know with our guys. It’s going to be tough but they’re going to be fine.”
That’s because the Pirates might have a few surprises for those other teams, too, as the four-day tournament gets underway at the Serauxmen Sports Fields.
Nanaimo has a talented ball club that lost only one league game this season and was right in contention at last weekend’s provincial championships in Coquitlam.
Romine, in his first year coaching the peewees, said he was initially surprised at the baseball smarts and skill the young all-stars possess. Jordan Rogers, another co-coach, sees the same things.
“I think people will be shocked at the talent that we have in Nanaimo for 12-year-olds,” he said.
They’re good and they also have a desire to get better.
“These guys love it… They want to practise,” Rogers said. “If we’re not practising, they wonder why. It’s nice to see.”
The Pirates go into Westerns playing some good baseball.
The coaches saw a lot of positive things at provincials last weekend, but there was some inconsistency. Romine said the team’s confidence soars when things are going well, but players sometimes get down on themselves when they’re behind.
“It was good to see the ups and downs with these guys and see where their strengths and weaknesses were. It’s stuff that we can build on,” said Jordan Romine.
When the peewee Pirates are mentally strong, they’re a well-rounded team because they have the physical tools and talent.
The players can hit for power but they know they also have a reliable small-ball offence they can execute. Their pitching was already a team strength and some pickups will make it even better. On defence, the Pirates can make every single play when they’re sharp.
“They know they’ve got the talent to do it and I don’t think that there’s a team out there that can beat us right now if we play our game and don’t get down on ourselves,” Romine said. “And they know that.”
GAME ON … The Nanaimo Pirates peewee AAA all-stars are the host team for Baseball Canada’s 2011 Western Canadian Championships. Opening ceremonies are Thursday (Aug. 25) at 4 p.m. at the Serauxmen Sports Fields, to be followed by the feature game between Nanaimo and Manitoba Midwest at 5:30 p.m. The gold-medal final will be Sunday (Aug. 28) at 1 p.m. For a full schedule of tournament action, please click here.