“We had a few kids that were pretty young who got a look on the field who dropped out and there were a couple kids with hockey who thought maybe they couldn’t do the commitment, so we have 15 players on the team,” said head coach Rob Virginillo. “This weekend, we will be missing a kid, and next weekend one will be missing, so it’s good to have that many.”
The team has only been able to get in a couple of practices with Wednesday’s likely washed out. But with a more veteran team with plenty of players with lots of familiarity, the transition to game play on Friday should be relatively smooth, all things considering.
“It’s mostly Grade 11s and Grade 12s with a couple of Grade 10s. We have a lot of Spurs and others who played bantam so that’s good. They know each other and have played with each other,” said Virginillo. “So it’s just the little things we’ll have to concentrate on. Not having an exhibition games before a tournament makes things a little tough.”
It will be all arms on deck for Virginillo to see if he has enough pitching on the Raiders where the fall season is condensed, but four games are played every weekend that can chew up the innings.
“I’ve pretty much told all 15 of them that they’ll probably be pitching at some point. There’s a couple of guys that looked at me sort of funny when I said that saying they haven’t pitched in a while,” said Virginillo. “We have got guys from the Spurs who have pitched all summer, with four or five arms who have pitched all summer. There were a couple of other kids who played bantam who pitched. With four games on a weekend, you are probably going to need eight guys, with two guys a game, and we have eight guys I think are going to be OK on the mound. And then there are guys you may be throwing in there for an inning or two who doesn’t pitch much, but you need them to get through the inning.”
Virginillo has higher hopes this year for the program than its pilot year last season as far as wins and losses goes, but the focus of fall ball remains the same.
“Being this team is a little older, I’m hoping we have a little more in the win column which is important, but not the most important. The important thing is we are still playing baseball for a longer period of time,” said Virginillo. “It’s a lot of baseball in a short period of time. It’s a lot of ball and that’s where the kids have to keep their focus and keep care of themselves because you can get tired and very easily hurt yourself. Weather comes into play too. We had great weather last year and let’s hope there is great weather again.”
Bow River Raiders start its fall season this Friday with a 3:45 p.m. game against Medicine Hat Knights and a 6:30 p.m. game against the Calgary Blues at Jets Stadium. Saturday’s slate features a 6:30 p.m. contest against Strathmore Reds. The Raiders conclude its tournament with a 5:30 p.m. game on Sunday against the Calgary Redbirds.
The following weekend the team is in Calgary, followed by Medicine Hat and Edmonton in subsequent weekends.