At a time when they are typically gearing up for a run at a provincial championship, the Delta Tigers were thrilled just to be playing an exhibition game.
The Tsawwassen-based rep team of 14-and-15-year-olds was supposed to be making its debut in the B.C. Premier Baseball Bantam Prep League until COVID-19 brought the season to a screeching halt back in mid-March. Following an idle stretch that lasted nearly 100 days, the team returned to small group practices in late June. Since then there has been a steady expanding team bubble that culminated with a pair of exhibition games against the Whalley Chiefs last week. The exhibition schedule is poised to increase again and could eventually include all five active teams in the Lower Mainland teams with games running until the end of October.
It has all added up to a season like no other for head coach Cam Frick. Typically his program focuses on individual skill development through the early part of the year before jumping into a hectic stretch that can feature up to five games a week from May to August. That’s when the focus shifts to team play and game strategy.
“I have my memory bank of practice plans and for the most part it’s pretty set,” chuckled Frick who guided his team to within a game of winning the national title a year ago. “Where’s it’s more normally team based right now it’s still all skill development based (training). We are still doing individual things to help them as players. It’s almost like we have extended the off-season and that’s how I’m approaching it.
“In a way it has been good for some our players that needed the extra practice. We’re starting to see the progress. We had our first two games this past Wednesday and (Sunday). Once the kids step into real games they realize it’s different than practice.”
Even as the Tigers try to salvage their 2020 season, the process of building for the future doesn’t stop. In September, Frick will welcome 2021 “rookies” who have just graduated from the Pee Wee age ranks. Usually their introduction to Bantam Prep comes through the “Fall Ball” season. Instead it will be simply expanding the rosters of the two teams.
“Those players will be permitted to join us right after Labour Day,” Frick added. “We’re hoping to extend our season another 60 days and get somewhat of a normal schedule for these guys.”