The Cranbrook Bandits will be looking to cash in this weekend, as they participate in the annual Big Bucks tournament in Libby, Montana.
After kicking off their 2017-18 conference season last weekend with two wins in six games, the American Legions Senior ‘A’ squad is looking forward to facing some different competitors down south.
The Bandits four-game schedule starts off with a Thursday afternoon game against the Walla Walla Griz, before they play the Moscow Blue Devils on Friday morning, the Strathmore Reds on Saturday night and the Sandpoint Lakers on Sunday.
The Griz play out of the Washington American Legion ‘A’ conference and have a 3-2 record so far this year in the Area 4 division. Walla Walla last played the Bandits two years ago at the tournament, although this year’s opening game between the two teams will not count for Cranbrook’s seeding position.
“It’s nice to see some other teams. It looks like the lineup that we are going up against are solid teams,” said head coach Paul Mrazek. “Walla Walla [was] a very solid team [when we last faced the [and] we hung with them.
“We like playing strong teams like that. I like showing the kids that they can play with anybody.”
Beginning their competition in earnest the next day against the Blue Devils, a team located on the Idaho side of the Idaho-Washington border, the Bandits will be looking for a similar result to last year. At the 2017 Big Bucks tournament, Cranbrook bested Moscow 13-3 in a game that ended after five-innings.
In conference play, the Devils are 5-3 so far this year and 8-7 overall. On Tuesday, they swept a doubleheader against the St. Maries Savages.
The Bandits will then face fellow Canadian competition with Strathmore on Saturday, who they met during last year’s seventh-place consolation game and beat them 9-0. Their final game prior to the championship and third-place games is against the Lakers, another Idaho team, who shutout the Bandits 5-0 in their only meeting last year.
The weekend in Libby will be the second tournament in the Montana city this year. In May, the Bandits went 1-2 at the Loggertown Classic while playing against conference rivals and the Calgary Redbirds.
The following weekend the Bandits will play at another tournament, this time in Polson, before getting back to conference play once again in Libby with a game against the Loggers on July 7. Their season wraps up at the end of July at the District tournament.
The Junior ‘B’ Bandits meanwhile will have this coming weekend off before a weekend of conference games at home on June 30 and July 1.