The Strathmore Reds Bantam Baseball team will be hosting a provincial tournament at the Kinsmen diamond Aug. 20-22 to close out the season.
The team is comprised of players aged 13-15 and has been travelling with Baseball Alberta playing weekend tournaments throughout the season to earn an overall rank and position seed.
Assistant Coach Matt Byma said the season saw a bit of a rough start for the team but has watched as they have been able to really come together and grow over the course of the season.
“We had a lot of … more raw, talented players this year [who] have really come into their own,” he said. “We saw a lot of improvement throughout the year. We started off a little slow … but really found our groove as of late and it’s been a good year.”
He spoke highly of improvements within the team and overcoming rivals later in the season that they had previously lost to.
“The improvement has been significant throughout the year and just how the kids have developed and come together as a team,” Byma added.
Baseball Alberta isn’t structured like a typical tournament, wherein teams vie for strict placement over the course of a season.
Instead, teams simply play games and their cumulative performance generates their seed at the end of the year.
The location for the final tournament is rotated every year, so though irregular, it is still uncommon to be hosted in Strathmore. Byma said it only happens every few years or so.
“It’s always fun and exciting when you get to play in your home diamond,” he said. “(The kids), they’re super excited. There’s always fun when they get to play in front of the family, and you get to host something like this.”
He explained the format will be a five-team round robin – so every team will play four games, one against each other opponent. The top two will then square off on the final day to determine the overall champion team.
“I think we have a really, really good shot. I see us and one other team being the favorites there,” said Byma. “I think if we play strong and our bats hit the way that they have been (through) the end of this season, I think we have a really good shot at taking the provincial title.”
He added he attributes some of the team’s success to some of the new players who do not have as much experience on the field, yet came to fit in well with the rest of the team.
“It’s interesting when you have some players that are very, very athletically skilled, but haven’t played as much baseball because you get to see exponential growth throughout them. And so that’s always exciting,” he explained.
The games will be hosted on the weekend of Aug. 20-22 and will be played in the Kinsmen Diamond for friends and family who wish to cheer on their home team.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times