RIGGER BASEBALL - The Red Deer Riggers are looking to take home a national championship in 2018. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

Red Deer Riggers drilling for a national championship

Baseballers return to Great Chief Park May 15th.

After an everlasting winter that felt like it was never going to end only two weeks ago, spring has finally arrived and with the greening of the grass comes another Red Deer Riggers baseball season.

The Riggers, who have been practicing indoors at the Collicutt Centre, begin their season on May 15th at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park against the Edmonton Confederation Cubs, and Manager/short-stop Jason Chatwood said the team is excited to return a core group of guys that come up just short of a national championship last season

“We are getting ready to get things going,” Chatwood said. “We are not 100 per cent on a couple things. I’m sure we will have some new younger guys but we are waiting for them to get done school.”

Winning a national championship is obviously a goal for the Riggers, but Chatwood said they have a few things to achieve before then.

“We want to have a strong regular season and good playoffs,” he said. “You always want to win that provincial title and then when Nationals come around, the guys will do whatever it takes in order to win.”

Doing whatever it takes will require repeating much of what worked last season — especially getting on base to ensure their power-hitters can notch some extra RBIs.

“We are able to manufacture some runs as well. We have some guys that can bunt and we have speed. Our ability to not strike out much really helps,” he said, adding their veterans will play a crucial role throughout the season.

“Guys don’t get too up or too down which makes the game easier,” he said.

Chatwood said the Cubs will be a good test to start the season.

“They beat us a few times and we were able to beat them a few times,” he said. “They are a good, young, rising team in the league that you can’t take for granted.

“With the first few games of the year, you never know what to expect. It is often your first time getting outside, so you are often working out some kinks but it will be nice to get out and get some gametime.”

This year, the City of Red Deer has redone the Riggers field surface and have also added in a patio along the right-field line.

“That is a new thing that will be nice for us especially when we are hosting tournaments and league games. Hopefully it will make a better atmosphere for people coming out,” he said.

The Riggers will also continue to be a supporter of the entire Central Alberta baseball community including working with local organizations.

“We are huge supporters of the local minor ball associations throughout the province. It looks like baseball is growing with the numbers for kids participation being awesome to see,” he said.

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

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