Cranbrook Bandits Junior team set for home opener

American Legion ‘B’ baseball team hosts Kalispell on Friday, Libby on Saturday at Confederation Park

The Cranbrook Bandits are entering their second weekend of 2018 and the Junior ‘B’ squad will host a pair of games on their home field.

Playing the Kalispell ‘B’ Lakers at 1 p.m. on Saturday and the Libby ‘B’ Loggers at noon on Sunday, the young Bandits are keen to get things started at Confederation Park.

“[Down in Montana] they were unbelievably gracious hosts. Everything from the national anthem to the fans, the burgers, everything [was fantastic],” said Bandits ‘B’ team head coach Robin King. “I hope Cranbrook and the Bandits can be known for being a great destination for all these U.S. teams and any teams in Canada that come to play.

“I know that the people involved in Cranbrook Minor Baseball are going to help us put together a good off-field package with music and everything, [so it should be a fun weekend].”

The Junior Bandits kicked off their year in Ronan, Montana last week and went 2-2 in exhibition games against the Mission Valley Rockies and the Clark Fork Cougars. Now with two weeks of practice under their belt, King hopes to see additional improvement on the field.

“It’s so early [and] we’ve got so much to work on, but [we’re working on] our strategy with regards to the game and pick off plays and holding runners on, some cut plays and things like that,” the coach said. “[I hope that our players can] just build on their skillset so their confidence is even greater.”

The Cranbrook ‘A’ Bandits, meanwhile, will be in Kalispell over the weekend participating in the ‘Canadian Days Tournament’ from Friday until Sunday. The Bandits kick off the tournament against their American Legion rivals, the Mission Valley Mariners, before playing the Olds Spitfires and the Kalispell Lakers ‘A’ team.

Last weekend, the Senior Bandits went 1-2 at the Libby Loggertown Wood Bat Classic and head coach Paul Mrazek expects the team to better defensively after a full week of practice for their outfield and bullpen.

“We generated 21 runs in three games so offensively, when you’re scoring eight runs in a game, you should probably be winning most of those games,” Mrazek said of last weekend’s tournament. “We can play with these teams no problem, we’re right where we should be.”

Following this weekend, the Bandits will host their own tournament from May 25 to 27 with both ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams competing at Confederation Park.

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