“I think we have a lot of depth all around our lineup and we will be able to swing it,” said Joel Blake, head coach of the Vauxhall Spurs who will be joined by former Spur Zach Rhodes and pitching coach Jordan Wong on the coaching staff. “It could be a bit of a challenge defensively from what we’ve seen so far in the preseason, but with high school baseball and everything, it has been tough to find time where everyone can get to practice so I’m pretty glad that (was) over this (past) weekend so we can start hammering down some good team practices.”
The Spurs will have a very long bench this year going 17 players deep.
“The reason we are going 17 is we have three Grade 9 kids being pretty young at 14 years old. But, we decided to take them to develop a bit playing with their bantam team as well,” said Blake. “It will be a good learning experience for them. We’re definitely going to be young overall with the three Grade 9s along with a lot of Grade 10s and 11s. I think we only have one Grade 12 kid and two graduated kids. ”
The team concluded pre-season play with a 2-5 record prior to the team’s conference road doubleheader against Medicine Hat Knights on Tuesday. Results were unavailable at press time. Goals will remain modest at first as the team looks to peak at the right time.
“We have some quality depth pitching where we are going to get some quality starts. Our main focus will be to just throw strikes and make them put the ball into play and let our defence work. It’s no fun having people sitting around and watching Ball Fours,” said Blake, who is taking over the coaching reins from former coach Ken Fuglerud. “I’m definitely not a small-ball guy. I look for work ethic, attitude and hustle — things kids can control and bring to the yard. Those things are intangibles that you can bring every day to the yard. You are not always going to be able to swing it or be able to pick it on defence every day, but control what you can control. Get ahead of hitters throwing strikes, on offence hit fastballs and grind out some at-bats. At this level, base running is going to win or lose a lot of ball games, leads in the dirt, first to thirds, we are going to be aggressive and play the game the right way hard.”
The team’s conference home doubleheader is on Sunday against the Medicine Hat Knights with games at 1 and 3 p.m. at Jets Stadium.
SPURS JANGLE: Head coach Blake played two years with the Prairie Baseball Academy on the varsity team starting in 2006. Blake received a scholarship to play at Div. I South Dakota State University where his three seasons included a Summit League regular season championship. Four summers have included playing for the Lethbridge Bulls. Blake also played for the Water Root Giants in Australia in the First Metro State League.