Softball club steps up to the plate in baseball league

Dave Kearsey
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Geg Birmingham gets in a few tosses at Jubilee Field.

CORNER BROOK  What happens when you cross a softball team with a baseball league? Members of a new entry into the Corner Brook Molson Baseball League are about to find out.

The club known as the Cardinals in the Corner Brook Molson Men’s Fastpitch Softball League will be taking their talents to Jubilee Field this summer, bumping that league up to five teams again. It’s been at four for the past two years after the Pasadena Pirates folded.

Most players on the roster, like 20-year-old Tyler Wells, have never played baseball before.

“It’s not the same thing at all,” said Wells of his own role as catcher in the two somewhat similar sports. “In softball, most everything is moving up or sideways. Catching a baseball when a guy is coming off the mound, everything is going to be going towards the dirt.

“It’s going to be a completely new process for me.”

There were a few experienced hands that joined the baseball team that weren’t previously on the softball squad, like pitchers Sean Anderson, formerly of the West Side Monarchs, and Ryan Park.

A team name hasn’t been decided for the baseball club, but it will likely be either the Curling Rockies or Curling Expos.

“The biggest change for us will be adjusting to the hitting, for sure,” said team representative Jamie Brake. “There’s different types of pitching. Some pitching is going to be faster than softball, obviously.”

Corner Brook Baseball Association president Kevin McCarthy said it was a positive for the league to have its first-ever true expansion club. Teams like the Pirates and Bay St. George Mets were their own entities with their own rosters, but this new squad will fall under the umbrella of the Corner Brook league.

While the new club has its own roster in place, it will be looking to the league to provide a little more pitching help. It won’t be included in the annual draft of unprotected players this year, but will be next season once it establishes itself. Instead, for this year, the league will move a pitcher from a current team to the new one.

“Instead of getting some fourth or fifth guy in the draft, we’ll try to get them their third arm instead,” McCarthy said. “We felt it was the best thing for them to let us try to get them the best arm we can get them.

“Where we can help them, we will,” he added. “We want them to be competitive.”

In the midst of the excitement for the baseball league was concern from softball league organizer, Barry Smith, about whether or not this would take away a number of guys — or an entire team — from that setup.

“If they’re going to be playing both sports, I don’t see it as being much of an issue,” he said. “But if they’re planning on just playing baseball, those are roster spots we have to fill elsewhere.

“It won’t be easy, by any means.”

Though nobody seemed sure, it appears the plan is for most of the players on the team to compete in both leagues. 

“It’s going to be pretty time-consuming,” Brake said. “We’d have to work our softball schedule around the baseball, for sure.”

And that will only be one of the challenges in store for the newcomers. The four other baseball clubs — Hawks, Aces, Monarchs and Junior Barons — have all been playing the sport together for some time and will provide tough opposition.

“I really have no idea,” Wells said of his expectations. “I think we’ll be competitive ... I don’t think we’ll get blown away. As long as we go to the field every night and give a good, solid showing, we’ll be happy at the end of the year.”

Those involved with the baseball league believe the new team will be just fine — if they didn’t, it simply wouldn’t have been accepted into the over 60-year-old league.

“These guys are full of vim and vigour,” said McCarthy. “They say they’re going to be competitive; they just wanted a chance.”

Organizations: Molson Baseball League, Cardinals

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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