Baseball season is now in full swing for Cranbrook’s American Legion teams with a busy weekend ahead down south.
Both the Bandits Senior ‘A’ team and the Junior ‘B’ squad have conference games in Montana on the docket and for the older boys, it will be the start of their non-exhibition season.
After a week without any games and two weeks since playing competition their own age (the Bandits held an Alumni game on June 2 between their ‘A’ team and former players), the Senior team kick off their American Legion play against the Kalispell Lakers ‘A’ team on Friday.
The games against the Lakers are the first of three straight doubleheaders. On Saturday, the Bandits face the Mission Valley Mariners ‘A’ team in Cranbrook and then take on the Bitterroot Bucs ‘A’ team on Sunday.
The Senior Bandits and Lakers have met up once previously this year, at a tournament in Kalispell in mid-May, and the Cranbrook side pulled out a 3-1 victory. Veteran player Carson Meggison led the way that afternoon both offensively and defensively, with three hits and two strikeouts in five innings on the pitcher’s mound.
The Bandits have also faced Mission Valley twice, but had far less success. At two separate tournaments, the Mariners routed Cranbrook with 14-8 and 19-1 wins.
While the Bandits have not yet faced the Bitterroot Bucs this season, they should prove to be tough competition. On the road last weekend, the Bucs swept the Missoula Mavericks with 15-5 and 13-2 wins, with both game ending after only five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
For their own part, the Cranbrook ‘A’ side is 4-5 overall this year after various exhibition games and tournaments. Although the team fell in their most recent effort in a 10-inning game against the Bandits Alumni team, prior to that they beat the Calgary Redbirds 11-0 at home.
The Bandits Junior ‘B’ team, meanwhile, will be looking to keep their Montana League record above .500 as they play a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. Both of their opponents will be new challenges as they visit the Bitterroot Bucs ‘B’ team and the Glacier Twins ‘B’ team for the first times this year.
While the Bandits were scheduled to play the Twins last weekend, the game was rained out. According to head coach Robin King, the team should be motivated to put together solid performance after a pair of rough losses to Kalispell last Saturday. The team lost those games 14-2 and 13-3 without a chance at redemption against Glacier.
“I was really looking forward to seeing what would happen [last Sunday against the Twins] because we hadn’t been beaten like that to this point,” King told the Townsman earlier this week. “Adversity brings out true character so after getting blown out, I wanted to see how our players would react.”
Overall, the Junior Bandits have an 8-8 record and are 2-2 in conference play after their opening pair of weekends. Next weekend, both Senior and Junior teams will participate in a tournament in Libby, before the Junior team finally returns home to play some games at Confederation Park.
From June 30 to July 7, the ‘B’ squad have a seven-game homestand. The ‘A’ team travel to Polson for a tournament the weekend after Libby and return to Cranbrook for a game against Spokane’s Ferris High School on Tuesday, July 3.