Coach Paul Mrazek (centre

Coach Paul Mrazek (centre

Play ball! It’s baseball season

Cranbrook Bandits hit the road to Libby to launch season

It’s a sign that summer is just around the corner, when the Cranbrook Bandits take to the field.

The American Legion ball season is just getting underway for East Kootenay ball players. The Bandits have been practicing all week, and this week will see their first action in Libby, Montana.

“Our kids are mainly Cranbrook and Kimberley, it’s almost a 50/50 split right now,” said Bandits coach Paul Mrazek. “We’re definitely on the younger side of the teams we’re going to be playing. We’ve got  a lot of 14-, 15-year-olds, and we’ve got one 17-year-old and one 18-year-old.

“It’s going to be a good start to the season. This is only our third day on the field — the high school season just ended. We’ve got some young players who are new, so the (Libby games) will give us an idea of where they’re going to fit in on the team.”

The Montana teams at the upcoming tournament have been well into their season so far.

“Libby and these other teams, they’re going to be playing their 12th, their 14th game this weekend. We’re getting our first foray.”

Devon Marra is looking forward to facing the Bandits old rivals. “We’ve played them before,” he said. “They’re a strong team, but we know how they play. We’ve played them lots in the past. I think we can definitely compete with them. Paul’s a great coach, hopefully he’ll be able to lead us to a few wins this weekend.”

Teammate Brandon Ouillette said the whole team is looking forward to the season at hand. “We got a new bunch of guys here, looks like it’s going to be a good, fun season, and hopefully we’ll develop a lot and win a few games.”

Both Marra and Ouillette were on the Mount Baker Wild’s baseball squad, which just wrapped up its action last weekend.

“It’s a good thing to get you going,” Ouillette said of high school baseball. “Gets you hitting the ball around, playing catch — it’s always good.”

The Bandits are going to be spending a lot of time on the road for the rest of this month. There’s the Libby tournament this weekend. The following weekend they’re in Kalispell, and the weekend after that in Medicine Hat, and in Libby again to finish the month of May. The Bandits first home action will be the weekend of June 7, when Libby comes to town.