After three years of waiting, Prince Rupert’s young baseball players finally got a chance to stand on the pitcher’s mound.
The North Coast Minor Baseball Association (NCMBA) kicked off its 2018 season on May 6, with games being played between teams in its junior and intermediate divisions. This year’s opening game between the Progressive Steel Blues and the RE/MAX Navy Seals was particularly special for intermediate division, whose young players got to pitch to each other for the first time since the league began in 2016.
The Navy Seals squeezed in a win 9-8. Cooper Magnusson and Noah Kloppers were the starting pitchers for the Navy Seals and Blues respectively.
Ken Veldman, one of the coaches in the league, said with the exception of a few accidentally hit batsmen, both team’s starting and relief pitchers played well and exceeded their coaches’ expectations. He said he was impressed with the ability of the players to show the physical and mental toughness required to pitch in real games.
“It’s a great reminder as to what their potential is to grow that way,” he said.
The NCMBA originally began with only junior level players who play with a machine pitching to them. It has since blossomed to approximately 100 players in four divisions ranging from ages 4-11 with the younger players playing either blastball or T-ball.
Veldman said the players currently playing in the intermediate division started off as junior players when the league first started, so it was exciting for them to progress to the next level of the playing development.
“To actually be in a game where they’re pitching to each other is what they watch on TV and what they wanted to get to,” he said. “From a coach and league perspective, to see them reach that point is pretty exciting stuff.”
In the league’s junior division, the DP World Aqua Sox beat the Pinnacle Silver Sluggers 3-1.
The league will continue playing weekly until the end of June. Stay tuned for weekly updates or check the Northern View’s website at www.thenorthernview.com.