A sprint through an abbreviated B.C. Premier Baseball League season should give the North Delta Blue Jays ample opportunity to showcase their impressive depth.
The Blue Jays embarked on a 30-game schedule over the next six weeks with a 6-0 road victory over the White Rock Tritons on Wednesday night. Ryan Heppner pitched six shutout innings while Ryan McCarthy paced the attack with a home run.
It was the Jay’s first competitive game in 2021 due to COVID-19 that earlier wiped out the entire 2020 season. The pandemic means no national championship for the second straight year but the BCPBL will have its own playoffs in early August. Head coach Jack Thompson is hoping there might be even more action, should Via Sport’s Return to Play allow for tournament action at some point over the summer.
“I would love to get into a tournament somewhere where our team depth would be challenged because I think that is our strong suit. We got a full team of guys who can do anything. We have guys who can pinch run, guys who can hit, pitch, come out of the bullpen or start.”
Heppner showed why the UBC Thunderbirds have already committed to him for the 2022 season with a dominant performance. He will be joining his older brother Sean who also came through the Blue Jays’ and Delta Tigers’ organizations.
“Last night was exactly what I wanted. High energy with everyone playing to win and getting back into that competitive atmosphere,” continued Thompson. “They played for each other and everyone was fired up.”
It’s been a challenging 15 months to say the least for a high performance program that is designed to showcase high school age players to post-secondary programs for the next chapters of their baseball career. Fortunately, scouts have seen enough of the limited highlights to earn a number of opportunities for the Jays’ 2021 graduating class. Among them is McCarthy who will be joining teammate Noah Thomas at Centralia College, a top transfer school, this fall.
For the players that have yet to make commitments, Thompson is glad they finally have the opportunity again to showcase their ability in game situations.
“It’s definitely been tough. You try to do as much as you can on social media to make that connection, then you have to sell yourself as a player and if you have no tape or nothing like that, it’s tough. It can be hard to sign a player off video and another coach’s word,” he said.
“We have been practicing a long time and we do try to keep them competitive by incorporating mini-games and stuff like that as much as we can to create that atmosphere.”