Matt Colbourne is anxious to put on a Newfoundland and Labrador baseball jersey for the first time.
“It’s going to be pretty cool to put it on and compete for your province and play against other people who are playing baseball in the country,” Colbourne said Monday from Edmonton, Alta.
Colbourne, 17-year-old son of Darren and Lisa Colbourne, is a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Selects playing in the 2014 Canada Cup Baseball Tournament this week in Saskatoon, Sask. He and Chris Kelly, son of Gene and Lisa Kelly, are the only two members of the provincial 17U team who hail from the west coast.
Colbourne is proud of his ability to crack a provincial baseball roster for the first time.
He’s proud to be one of the few guys from the west coast to have such an honour, knowing full well the rosters are usually saturated with players from St. John’s.
With only one more year of minor baseball eligibility left after this journey, Colbourne wants to see how he stacks up against some of the top midget players from coast to coast.
He’s cognizant of the history of provincial teams not placing well at showcase events like the Canada Cup, but he’s looking at his debut as a chance to give it a solid effort and feel good about it at the end of the day.
“We’re here and ready to give it our best,” the lefty said. “Hopefully be in every game and win a couple of games, and see where it gets us and take it from there.”
Colbourne may see some duty at first base with the Selects, but it’s his arm that he expects will be key to him making a contribution to the team as a southpaw pitcher.
“Just throwing strikes and hopefully let the defence do the work back there,” he said of his focus when he gets the call from coach Stephen Donahue of Mount Pearl.
It’s no secret that this tournament is one of the major showcase events for prospects with a vision of earning a baseball gig with Canada’s national team down the road or even earning a scholarship to play college ball.
That’s all fine and dandy, but not a big deal for Colbourne, who just happens to be ticked pink over being there.
“If I can get out there and impress some people I guess that would be a bonus, but I just want to play my best that’s all I can really do,” he said.
Kelly, on the other hand, is heading to his second tournament as a member of a provincial team.
Last summer, Kelly suited up with the provincial 15U team at the national bantam baseball tournament in Vaughn, Ont. in his final year of eligibility.
Kelly knows the competition will be pretty tough with every province sending its best, but he’s by no means intimidated with the reality that there will be a lot of bigger and stronger players to compete against.
“I’m more excited than anything,” he said.
“I get to play against better players so that’s going to be exciting.”
Kelly is expected to see time in one of the hot corners, although he’s spent most of his minor baseball days at first base.
He can also handle the bat so he may be counted on to be one of the run-producers in the mix.
He’s just eager to play some baseball and do what he can to help the team achieve success.
“Go up and have good at-bats, don’t be nervous and try not to make too many errors,” Kelly said.
He likes the group assembled for the tournament, having played with a lot of the guys last year in Vaughan and he’s a good friend with Colbourne so he feels the team should do just fine.
“I think we got a pretty good team. I don’t think we have any weak spots,” he said. “We’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks so I think we’ll be fine.”
Putting on a solid showing on the diamond is more than wins and losses though, Kelly is quick to point out. He believes it’s equally important to give a good account of themselves both on and off the field and show some great sportsmanship that he’s seen in the past.
“Last year we got a lot of good compliments on our attitude in Vaughn. Newfoundland always does a good job when they go up there,” Kelly said.
The team wrapped up a training session and exhibition game in Edmonton Monday.
They depart for Saskatoon today and open the tournament Wednesday against Prince Edward Island.