By IAN WILSON
While we squint to look past the winter snow to see a summer of baseball, the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) has given fans of the sport something to smile about.
The summer collegiate circuit has released a list of their top five moments from last summer.
Here’s a full look at the list from their website:
“As we eagerly anticipate the 2022 WCBL season and all the excitement it has to offer, we thought we’d take time to reflect on some of the highlights from last summer.
It should be noted that having the season take place at all was a minor miracle. Having already scrapped the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been easy to shut things down for another summer, as many other leagues did. The WCBL spent countless hours planning a return to the diamond and reviewing procedures so the players, coaches and fans could get back to enjoying the game they love in a safe environment. Ultimately, a five-team, all-Alberta circuit featuring exclusively Canadian rosters emerged, providing us with a summer season like no other.
So, allow us to present – in chronological order – the top five moments from the WCBL 2021 campaign:
The first day of the season is always special and filled with optimism. This was especially true last summer, when the opening pitch brought with it a sense of hope. Blue skies, sun-drenched diamonds, green grass and nine innings of great baseball brought smiles to so many faces of all ages.
The Lethbridge Bulls opened the season at Spitz Stadium with a 14-7 win over the Okotoks Dawgs Black team, one of two Okotoks squads that competed last year.
Sylvan Lake played their first game in franchise history on June 18th, a 16-8 loss to the Edmonton Prospects. The contest allowed the Gulls to introduce WCBL baseball and their state-of-the-art stadium to the central Alberta community.
Fans in Okotoks were treated to a Father’s Day home opener that showed off the iconic Core 4 (+14) Corner expansion during a 9-6 Dawgs Red victory over the Bulls.
This photo gallery captures some of the special scenes from the season openers.
Much like Opening Day, July 1st typically results in positive vibes at the ballpark.
Red-and-white clad baseball fans gathered in Lethbridge for a double-header between the Bulls and the Prospects, while the Gulls traveled to Okotoks for a matchup against Dawgs Black.
It was a scorching hot day that provided a sense of community to those in attendance.
BASEBALL DAY IN CANADA
Spearheaded by the Edmonton Prospects and held at Seaman Stadium on Aug. 14th, this was another first for the WCBL.
“The event will be a celebration of everything good and positive about baseball in Canada,” said the Okotoks Dawgs Baseball Club in a press release.
“The WCBL is the only high-level league in the country, apart from MLB where the Blue Jays have finally come home to Rogers Centre, which has offered its fans and players a competitive 2021 season. The response of baseball fans to once again be able to celebrate this fabulous outdoor summer activity with family and friends has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.”
Baseball Day in Canada featured a double-header between Dawgs Black and the Prospects, which was broadcast live online. The livestream provided more than 10 hours of baseball coverage and interviews with some of Canada’s most prominent baseball people.
Just one day after Baseball Day in Canada, the Sylvan Lake Gulls made history by recording the team’s first no hitter. It was a group effort, with Evan Wilde, Brett Higgins and Zane Pollon contributing to the no-hit bid at Gulls Field.
Sylvan Lake defeated Lethbridge 9-0 in the memorable matchup on Aug. 15th.
BULLS ON PARADE
The Lethbridge Bulls would have the last laugh.
They defeated the Gulls in the playoffs and claimed their first WCBL championship since 2015 with a series sweep of the Edmonton Prospects in Sherwood Park.
Lethbridge pitcher Bryce Oriold-Fraser was named the WCBL Playoff MVP.
The title win for the Bulls put the wraps on a roller-coaster season.
What memories stood out for you from last summer? And what moments are you looking forward to ahead of the 2022 WCBL season?
Check the schedule and start circling some dates, because the summer will be here soon!”
(Full text of story from WCBL website published with league permission).