Two-thirds of the Lloydminster Twins mosquito A team will make their debut at a provincial tournament this weekend in Meadow Lake for the Saskatchewan Baseball provincial tournament. And for the Twins, their inexperience will be the hardest challenge to overcome in the three day tournament.
But as head coach Dave Heculuck said, the team isn’t lacking any pushback, as through the course of the season they have been in many one-run games and came from behind multiple times.
“They have really showed some perseverance,” said Heculuck.
Another challenge at the mosquito age is maintaining the level of play needed at the provincial level to have success. With multiple games in a day, it can be a challenge for this age group to stay composed and continue to compete at their top level and stay focused on the game and manufacture runs.
But for 11 years old, Heculuck said his team is resilient, and has showed it all season long.
“They just come back from places no one thought they could,” said Heculuck. “They want to play. That was the biggest part of the tournament this past weekend, proving to themselves that they can be down and still have a chance to bring their bats around and score some runs.”
Along with the host Meadow Lake Sox, Lloydminster will be joined by the Kindersley Royals, Unity Cardinals, Rosetown Angels and the Melville Millinaires, a team Heculuck said will be one of the toughest at the provincial tournament and the only team who isn’t from the same zone as Lloydminster. They got to see the majority of the teams last weekend in a tournament in Unity, so they know the pitching they are up against, which helps to minimize the surprises they will see when a provincial title is on the line.
Pitching was something the team worked on over the year, as the Twins had a former player return to help coach the mosquitos on the mound. With a pitching count in place, it’s imperative that the majority of the pitches are strikes so that not too many from the total count are wasted on balls. With seven pitchers in the lineup, it gives the Twins room to work over the weekend should they have to call on multiple starters to take the mound.
But what may be more important than wins and losses is the experience the young ball players will gain from a provincial tournament. For many, this is their first trip to a tournament such as this, so it will only do more for their development as ball players once they get a few provincial games under their belt and learn to handle the pressure situations.
“That’s probably one of the biggest things, to experience what competitive play is like,” said Heculuck. “Just building as much experience in different game situations as possible, that is going to make the difference between a team that will survive provincials and ones that won’t.”
As a team, Heculuck wants his players to enjoy the experience of provincials above all us. He would like to see the kids earn a few victories and come back feeling confident about their play, and if a medal comes their way, that would be more than he would have asked for.
The tournament runs July 17 to 19 in Meadow Lake.