The Delta Tigers look like anything but an expansion team in B.C. Minor Baseball's Bantam AAA League.
The Tigers take an 18-9 regular season record into this weekend's play — good enough to sit fourth in the 16-team circuit.
"When I looked at our overall talent level back at the start of the season, I was thinking a 20-10 record which raised few eyebrows," laughed head coach Cam Frick. "I think we have surprised quite a few people but I thought all along the talent level was there. We're really happy with the way the season has gone so far and we have shown we can compete with anyone."
The Tigers' U15 rep program was launched by Tsawwassen Minor Baseball executive Wayne Laviolette and is a joint effort of all three associations in Delta. Home dates and practice sessions are divided equally between Tsawwassen, Ladner and North Delta which also reflects the breakdown of talent on the roster.
The season actually started last November with indoor winter training as much as three times a week, attracting 48 players. The Tigers also field a team at the Bantam AA level which features North Delta and Tsawwassen players, while
Ladner has its own entry in the same league. Frick expects next year's off-season program to lure over 60 prospects.
Up until this season, Delta players wishing to play at the Bantam AAA level typically went to Richmond, White Rock or even Cloverdale. It wasn't that long ago the municipality was a hotbed for this age group and no one knows that better than Frick.
He played for the North Delta Astros who advanced to the Bantam AAA provincial final in 2007. The team they happened to lose to were the Ladner Nationals which featured the deepest age group of talent ever to come through Ladner Baseball. The Nationals went on to finish second at the Canadian Championships.
A number of players and coaches from both teams ended up together in the B.C. Premier Baseball League (PBL) with the North Delta Blue Jays.
The talent depth thinned out enough in the years ahead for none of the three associations to field a top tier Bantam team. Frick launched his coaching career four years ago with Richmond City Baseball, first guiding a Bantam AA team before taking on the Chuckers Midget AAA squad. He promised Laviolette he would return to Delta if a Bantam AAA team was launched and kept his word.
"This is a great group of kids to be working with and it's nice to be keeping them all right here in Delta," added Frick. "Ladner is running a Pee Wee AAA team right now that has a number of talented kids who will be coming up next year."
The Tigers are hosting an exclusive league tournament next weekend at Winskill and Cromie Parks that will feature the current top 10 teams in the league standings. The winner and runner-up will get to represent B.C. at a pair of highprofile U.S. tournaments this summer.