Crushers lose 5-3, need a Saturday win to keep season alive
ANTIGONISH – The Amherst Ramblers will head home with a chance to put the Pictou County Crushers out of the Maritime Hockey League playoffs.
MacGregor Midget AAA catcher Keegan MacKenzie works on blocking errant pitches during a team workout session on Saturday. Kevin Adshade – The News
STELLARTON – With success often comes elevated expectations.
After a 2014 season that saw the MacGregor Midget AAA baseball team make it all the way to nationals, coach Ryan Thibeau’s expectations aren't much different than they might have been a year ago.
About a dozen players went through a two-hour workout session on Saturday at Stellarton’s indoor sports complex, starting with a cardio workout before graduating to short and long toss and finally to the trio of batting cages set up in the complex.
”We lost some bats and big arms, but the kids we have coming out have got some talent,” Thibeau said as his players continued working off a winter’s worth of baseball rust.
“We’ve just got to find out who’s willing to put the work on.”
The MacGregors won the league title last season, captured provincials and went all the way to nationals in Quebec, where they finished ninth with a respectable 3-3 mark.
Lefty pitcher Ethan MacCallum is one of the players who have graduated into the Midget ranks for 2015, and while he admits “there’s some pressure” to repeat last year’s performance, he also expressed confidence that the ball club can have another productive season.
Colby Russell, a right-handed pitcher who had an earned-run-average under 1.50 last season, said that although they have lost some key pieces to graduation, he also believes they can pick up right where they left off.
“We have half the team coming back, so I think we’ll have a similar year. It’s early, but we’re hoping for the best,” said Russell, who throws a fastball, changeup and a curveball, the latter of which he calls his “out” pitch.
The MacGregors will play again play in a league with six other teams, most of those based out of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The league is expected to start in late May.