By IAN WILSON
The Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) season will mark the return of high-end summer collegiate competition to the province of Saskatchewan for the first time since 2019.
Needless to say, the East Division clubs – which will be joined by Alberta’s Medicine Hat Mavericks to form a five-team grouping – are excited to get back to the ballpark.
The 2022 WCBL campaign will also see the resumption of bus trips for squads traveling to and from Alberta and Saskatchewan.
So, let’s take a look at what we can expect from each Saskatchewan-based team this summer:
REGINA RED SOX
A return to form is the hope for the Regina Red Sox this summer.
The last time the team took the field in the WCBL, they were representing the East Division in the league championship against the Okotoks Dawgs in 2019.
While they fell just short in their pre-pandemic title bid, the Red Sox posted a league-best 41-15 record, which was good for a superb .732 winning percentage.
Regina’s pitching staff limited WCBL batters to the lowest amount of hits, runs and earned runs of any team on the circuit, while registering more strikeouts than any other squad.
Head coach Jason Veyna – a middle infielder for the Red Sox in 2009 and 2011 – was at the helm that year and he returns for his second year as skipper in 2022 with the goal of guiding Regina back to the championship series.
Southpaw pitcher Dylan Bells will take the mound after suiting up for his hometown team in 2018 and 2019, when he registered a 4-3 record, a 4.05 earned run average (ERA), and 69 strikeouts through 73.1 innings. The lefty is a K-per-inning hurler with St. Mary’s University in Texas this year.
Returning infielders include Dylan Edmands, who saw time with the Red Sox in 2018-19 and is expected to play third base alongside second baseman Sam De La Cruz, a native of the Bronx, New York who has logged 79 games for Regina. In 49 games with Arizona Western College, Edmands is batting .295 with 45 runs, 38 runs batted in (RBI) and 11 stolen bases. De La Cruz has a .303 batting average, 48 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 42 games at Faulkner University this year.
Pilot Butte’s Kendell Keller – the brother of former Regina Red Sox star slugger Griffin Keller – will also roam the outfield at Currie Field … read more
These Beavers are eager to get back at it.
After losing two straight seasons to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Weyburn Beavers are excited about bringing WCBL action back to their community.
Head coach Dusty Kerns, an Idaho native who played for Weyburn in 2013, will look to usher in this next era of Beaver baseball.
Kerns is an assistant coach with Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington who was a Gold Glover at Bellevue University. He was a versatile player who played both in the outfield and behind the plate.
The last time we saw the Beavers play ball they went 33-22 in the 2019 season. They led the WCBL in home runs – with 53 – on the back of slugger Jack Barrie’s 19 regular-season round trippers. The Beavers generated more walks than any other club and finished second in runs batted in (RBI). Garrett Perez also lit up the base paths for Weyburn and set a WCBL record for stolen bases with 40 swiped pillows.
Barrie and Perez will not be back this season, but first baseman Nolan Machibroda will try to spread some Beaver fever in Western Canada. The Saskatoon native played 41 regular season and playoff games for Weyburn in 2018 and 2019, batting .281 while collecting 24 RBI in that time. More recently, Machibroda was named the Mid-South Conference Player of the Year for his efforts at Cumberland University. The senior was a beast this year in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), posting a .471 batting average, a .566 on-base percentage, 15 homers, 77 RBI and 49 runs in 44 games played … read more
MOOSE JAW MILLER EXPRESS
From patrolling the outfield at Ross Wells Park in Moose Jaw to being named the head coach of the Miller Express, Eric Marriott is finally ready to usher in a new era of baseball for the club.
It’s been a long time coming for Marriott, who played two seasons for the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) team in 2018-19, and was later selected as the skipper in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the diamond dreams of the Miller Express the last two seasons but they’re ready to crank things up again.
“We have an exciting roster coming to Moose Jaw this summer,” said Marriott.
“We have multiple guys that will be leaders in the clubhouse and fan favourites on the field. This summer we will have a mix of underclassmen, as well as upperclassmen ball players looking to compete every night from all over Canada and the U.S.A.”
Added Marriott: “I fully expect Ross Wells Park in Moose Jaw to be rocking all summer long with WCBL baseball back in town.”
Assistant coach Michael Gonzalez will help Marriott this season. The West New York, New Jersey native has three years of college coaching experience and he won two New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championships, one as a player and the other as an assistant coach.
Helland is a local product who appeared in 12 games for Moose Jaw in 2019, racking up 19 Ks and posting a 2.95 earned run average (ERA) in 21.1 innings out of the bullpen that year. Playing for MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) this year, the righthander has logged 25.1 innings for the Pioneers, going 2-2 with a save and 26 strikeouts in that time.
Campbell – who is from Warren, Ohio – suited up in 43 regular season contests for the Miller Express in 2019 and registered 17 runs and 15 runs batted in (RBI) that summer. He’s currently sporting green for Tiffin University, where he’s batting .307 with a .465 on-base percentage and 44 runs in 44 games this season … read more
SWIFT CURRENT 57’s
The Swift Current 57’s are bringing in a new head coach for the season, along with some new talented ball players on the field.
The 2022 season will be Joey Jordan’s first at bat as head coach for the Swift Current 57’s, and he is eager to come and show everyone his ability to lead the team.
Jordan has a great history with the sport of baseball, having played college ball for three different schools. Those schools being Jacksonville State, Southern Union State Community College and Louisiana Monroe.
Swift Current won’t be his first time experiencing baseball in Canada, previously having played in the WCBL for an Alberta team.
“2017 was the summer I played for the Medicine Hat Mavericks,” detailed Jordan.
“When I finished playing I went straight into coaching.”
His coaching career began with the University of West Georgia, where he was a hitting coach and also coached infielders.
Jordan is excited to work with the team this year, revealing that the roster has some good talent inbound for the season.
“We have guys from Hawaii, from Georgia in the States and from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of Canada,” exclaimed Jordan.
“We have guys from all over and decided to see how they mesh together. We’ll have a 25-man roster and I’m excited to see how things go this upcoming season.”