The Cranbrook Bandits Junior ‘B’ team played their first games of the year at home over the weekend, with doubleheaders against visiting teams on Saturday and Sunday.
According to head coach Robin King, the team’s opening game against the Kalispell Lakers ‘B’ team was their best showing of the season so far.
“After a good week of practice, we were mentally and physically ready and it showed,” King said. “[We] hit line drives, hit ground balls [and] made things happen out there. Mentally, we just stayed positive.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about a lot is positivity and staying ‘in the zone’, as we call it, I thought they were really focused and it showed.”
Winning the first of a doubleheader with Kalispell 9-6, the follow up was a dramatic departure and an error-filled game led to an 16-1 loss.
“The second game, we kind of lost our focus and we made way too many errors,” King explained. “We got away from hitting the line drives and the ground balls, and started popping the ball up. We can’t play that kind of game. We’re not going to hit the big, long balls.”
On Sunday, the Bandits continued to struggle with unforced errors against the Libby Loggers ‘B’ team but were saved by their offence and won 14-6 and then 9-7.
“We were really fortunate to come out ahead in the games against Libby considering the number of errors that we made,” King said. “But we made some key hits and some key defensive plays at the right time that allowed us to win.”
Over the weekend, King used a lot of different pitchers and was pleased with the way the team’s bullpen threw the ball for the most part.
“Everybody pitched quite well [so] I was happy,” he said. “We’ve got to get the ball lower in the strike zone because when we got it up in the strike zone, Kalispell just walked us [and] walked us hard [and then] Libby did the same thing.
“Both teams [we played this weekend] are really solid at bat. So, pitching-wise, we had some good outings, but we still have to get the ball in the strike zone to create more ground balls and then when we create the ground balls, we’ve got to minimize our errors.”
As his first home tournament with the Cranbrook Bandits, King was very impressed with the off-the-field operations as well throughout the weekend.
“The parents came out, the kids [too] and I thought we prepared the diamond really, really well,” he said. “I was really proud to have our two guests from Kalispell and Libby. We got great compliments on the facility [and] the batting cages that we have.
“I thought we put on a class act. I would like to have seen more people out in the stands, but the first day wasn’t too bad.”
Both Cranbrook Bandits teams will be in action over the weekend, playing a series of games against the Calgary Redbirds at Confederation Park on Saturday and Sunday.