By Woodard, Dale on July 11, 2019.
Preparation time has been minimal, but the Lethbridge Intermediate AAA Bisons are ready to go.
A little over a month after forming, the baseball team consisting of 13-year-olds will play the role of hosts as the Little League Intermediate Divisional Championships get underway today, running until Saturday and possibly Sunday at Atso Towaawa Park on the westside.
It starts today at 2:30 p.m. as the Bisons take the field against Medicine Hat in the four-team tournament that also includes Calgary West and Edmonton Community Park.
It’ll also be the first glimpse of competition of this magnitude for most of the Bisons roster.
“I think we’re pretty prepared,” said Bisons head coach Denny Puszkar. “The boys have really bought into a lot of stuff. This is a group where a lot of them are new to this level and they’ve been a great group to coach. Our staff has been very supportive and very dedicated working with these kids.”
The Bisons roster took shape a little over a month ago on June 4.
“It’s quick and we started off right away with a tournament in Innisfail,” said Puszkar. “We won that and then it’s kind of been a series of exhibition games and tournaments. Then we just bounced around a little bit. We played a few games against Alberta Baseball teams. It’s a really quick season so the learning curve is steep.”
The winner of the tournament will represent Alberta at the Canadian championships in Langley, B.C., next weekend.
The tournament features round-robin games between the four teams to determine two finalists. A best-of-three championship series will decide the winner with the round-robin game between the finalists counting as Game 1. If necessary, Game 3 will go on Sunday.
“They’re pretty excited,” said Puszkar of his team getting to go for a divisional title at home. “Our message to the boys has been don’t change the process. We really tried to focus on playing the game the right way and keeping things simple. They’re all very skilled and have the tools available to compete at this level. It’s just keeping the emotions in check and maintaining confidence. It’s been that more than anything. We have practised plenty and are prepared enough for it. Now it’s just time to go out and do what we need to do.”
First up is Medicine Hat this afternoon.
“We played against Medicine Hat early on in our season and didn’t fare particularly well, to be honest,” said Puszkar. “We had a rough weekend and I don’t think we played our best baseball. Last weekend we played Edmonton and Calgary up in Calgary. I think we have an idea of what we’re getting into. Every team has got their strengths, of course. I think Medicine Hat certainly is a quality opponent. It’ll be a good start for us. It’ll be a good way to get the tournament off.”
Admission to the tournament is free and concession and washroom facilities will be available.
The following is the schedule for the weekend.
Medicine Hat vs. Lethbridge, 2:30 p.m.
Opening Ceremonies (immediately following the first game), 5 p.m.
Edmonton Community Park vs. Calgary West, 6:30 p.m.
Medicine Hat vs. Edmonton Community Park, 8:30 a.m.
Lethbridge vs. Calgary West, 11:30 a.m.
Medicine Hat vs. Calgary West, 2:30 p.m.
Lethbridge vs. Edmonton Community Park, 5:30 p.m.
Championship Game 2 of best-of-three
Championship Game 3 of best-of-three (if necessary)
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