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Jets readying for take off for annual Vegas trip

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Advance

The Vauxhall Academy of Baseball Jets have been able to capitalize on early warm weather in March and soon they’ll be in the hot Nevada sun. With that warm March weather, it did allow the Jets outside but the fields weren’t in any condition to play games. That being said, the Jets did get out to play a 15-inning scrimmage along with some practice. 

“We actually didn’t play an opponent, just with the frost coming out of the ground. The fields are still not great, but we were able to get outside and scrimmage for 15 innings on Saturday in Lethbridge at the PBA (Prairie Baseball Academy) — and it went good,” explained Les McTavish, head coach of the Jets. “When you scrimmage for 15 innings, as much as the guys want to play an opponent, it was more beneficial in the long run, kind of how we did it. So, you know we pitched 30 innings, both sides of the inning, right? We were able to control some things, put players in situations that may not necessarily get if you were just playing a game. It was good and it was a beautiful day.”

The following day they were able to get back outside and get some practice in. And with the big trip upcoming, the more reps, the better for the players.

“And then we went out, went back into Lethbridge on Sunday because we got quite a bit of frost coming out at Jets (Stadium), had a great practice on Sunday and, you know, are we totally prepared to go to Las Vegas to play some of the best teams in the country? No, but I think we’re as prepared as we can be, and it’s exciting to get ready. I guess this is getaway week —we leave on Sunday morning to Vegas.”

Despite wintery weather on its way for southern Alberta, it won’t affect the Jets at all. This weekend sees the team take off for Las Vegas as they head out on their annual road trip down to Nevada. While the team has done this trip numerous times, this year’s trip to Vegas will see even more games than usual. 

“Well, it’s different than what we’ve usually done, we played some games prior to. So how it works this year is we’re playing in two tournaments — two nationally ranked tournaments. So, we play in the Basic Academy Tournament next Monday to Thursday, and then we play a couple of games in between tournaments against really good teams and then we play in the Bishop Gorman tournament. We fly in Sunday, we’re going to have a light practice Sunday afternoon, and then we open up the tournament on Sunday or Monday morning or Monday at noon against the team out of Los Angeles,” added McTavish. 

Despite the quick turnaround, the Jets are fired up about getting out and playing ball again. With temperatures projected to be in the 20s all week, VAB is in for some good weather and hopefully good baseball.

“Usually we always played a couple of exhibition games before we got rolling, but this year we were able to be in two high, extremely high caliber tournaments. So we play Monday to Thursday in the Basic Academy Tournament, and then Friday we’ll go watch a UNLV game and then Saturday we play against Desert Oasis. Then Sunday we’ll have a light practice, then Monday we play against Faith Lutheran and Tuesday we’ll have practice and then we start the Bishop Gorman Tournament Wednesday to Saturday. So. it’ll be great — we will play 10 games in 12 and a half days, have two practices, and hopefully lots of warm weather.”

The Jets have their fair share of wins in Las Vegas but each year is different. With more games in a short amount of time — and not a lot of time outside before they left — expectations for the team are to get better after each game. 

“I think, you know, our goal is to always win, and the same with our players’ goal is to always win. But, you know, probably our biggest focus is to try to continue to grow and learn and try to get better each day you’re on the field. You know, we’re going to take some lumps at some point. You just hope that it’s not continuous lumps, right? So if we come out, we don’t have a good day on the mound or we don’t have a good day defensively, you hope the next day you can continue to get better,” continued McTavish. “The good part about playing so many games on a trip like this is you don’t have a lot of time to dwell on some things that may not go well, because you get an opportunity to get back out there the next day. So, you know, it’s a challenge, certainly, but at the same time, I think, you know, that’s why they worked all winter, is to get prepared for that.”

While the spring is where the fun begins to happen, the winter work is where the real progress begins to show itself. McTavish says this winter was filled with positives but a major injury also derailed things a bit.

“The baseball side was one side of things, but I thought in the weight room, our guys did a tremendous job. Our strength coaches did an awesome job preparing the players, both programming-wise and pushing them to continue to get better. And it was as good of.a weight room, as good of an offseason physically that we’ve had in a long time. So we’re real happy on that front,” explained McTavish. “We did have a lot of the guys play basketball and we did suffer a major injury. One of our best players, Alex Laurence, tore his ACL/MCL and meniscus playing basketball. So that was a big blow and is a big blow, but he did have successful surgery last Thursday, and he’ll miss this season and hopefully be ready to roll next year for us. That’s a tough one for sure. So it’s disappointing and not only for us and the players here, but most disappointing for Alex and you feel for him and, but happy that he got in for surgery really quickly and, you know, we’re looking forward to starting the rehab process with him soon.”

The Jets won’t return to Vauxhall for a home game until April 14 where a doubleheader is scheduled against the Okotoks Dawgs.

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