Alex Smith is one of nine Cranbrook baseball players heading down to the Desert Spring Classic. File Photo

Local ball team heads south for prestigious tournament

The team includes nine Cranbrook baseball players heading to the Desert Spring Classic in Arizona

A select 12 baseball players will be heading down to the Big Leagues Experience Desert Spring Classic in Mesa, Ariz.

There will be 10 players from Cranbrook included on the team heading down to the states with Bandits ‘A’ team head coach Paul Mrazek for the midget tournament that will be held March 27-29.

“We are taking 12 kids down there to compete in a three-day tournament,” said Mrazek. The age range of the kids going down is 15 to 19, including members from the Junior Bandits and Senior Bandits.

“It’s quite an age range, but I’ve selected 12 players I think can play,” he said.

While the players are down at the tournament, Mrazek hopes it will be a good learning experience for them, especially from Coach Eric Kibler, who will be helping out.

Kibler has coached with the U.S. national program multiple times and is a retired teacher.

“He’s going to be with us for six days. He’s going to run practice sessions with us, he’s going to come out to the games … here are our kids getting an opportunity for six days to be around and listen to Coach Kibler,” said Mrazek.

While at the tournament between practices and games, the team will be on the baseball field twice a day, and Kibler will be with them for a majority of it.

The players will also get a chance to go to Paradise Valley Community College where the baseball team is playing against the Italian national team.

“We are going to watch that for about an hour. I need the players to see … they can get there if they want. We will find a place for them to play,” said Mrazek.

Last year Mrazek was at the tournament as a coach with the West Kelowna team.

“I knew this tournament was going on and I got to see how it all went. I came back and talked to a coach in Trail that I know and I said ‘let’s put together a Kootenay team and send a team of our own down,’” he said.

The players will be heading out on March 23 and will hit the ground running when they land in Arizona.

“The kids are pretty excited about it, said Mrazek. “It’s a pretty cool trip and to be hooked up with coach Kibler — U.S. national team coach — is huge.”

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