VIBI swings into spring down in U.S.

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute is preparing for the start of the Canadian College Baseball Conference season.

All these early-season innings are helping the VIBI Mariners become the team they want to be.

Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Baseball Institute travelled to Yakima, Wash. for a second-straight weekend as it prepares for the start of the Canadian College Baseball Conference season later this month.

The Mariners practise baseball long before spring starts – if not at the stadium, then at the gymnasium with wiffle balls, or on the turf soccer pitch. But getting some game action is the first sign of spring.

“It was nice to get outside and play in some sunshine, actually get on the field,” said Dallas Monk, VIBI infielder.

Facing U.S. college teams in spring training means playing high-calibre ball, which is only a good thing for the Mariners.

“We face that kind of competition in our league,” said Jordan Blundell, VIBI manager. “The programs in our league, we’re all pretty tight, pretty close games for the most part and these weekends prepare us for that.”

It’s the time of year when players need to create good habits, and Blundell talked about some of the things he’s looking for in spring training.

On the mound, he wants his pitchers to get used to trying to work ahead against opposing hitters.

“We want to set the bar pretty high with that because it shuts down the other team when you’re working ahead in the count,” he said.

At the plate, he’s asking his guys to be prepared before they step into the batter’s box so they don’t over-think their at-bats.

“That actually slows your hands down,” Blundell said. “So we want our guys to get in there and compete, not think too much, have your approach set becore you get in there. Your job during that at-bat is to try and execute that approach. And then ater two strikes, have a battle.”

GAME ON … The Mariners travel to Everett, Wash., this Saturday (March 16) and Sunday for four more exhibition games. The home opener for VIBI is March 23 at Serauxmen Stadium against the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com