As one of just a handful of first-year players on the bantam-aged Newfoundland and Labrador squad, he’s aware a few jitters are to be expected, but the 14-year-old from Mount Moriah shrugs it off.
“Get up in the batter’s box and try to hit the ball,” he said. “Treat it just like a practice.”
Veteran words from the son of Brad and Tina, who has been playing the game since joining the rookie division of the Corner Brook Minor Baseball program as a nine-year-old.
An outfielder and a pitcher, the versatile Porter was one of 19 west coast players to try out for the provincial club back in the spring of the year at Jubilee Field. Only he and his buddy Kyle Brown made the first cut.
A second tryout followed out east in late June, after which he received a phone call saying he made the team.
“I felt confident, but I thought, ‘Well, if I didn’t make it, I didn’t make it,’” he said of his expectations at the time. “I’d just work harder.”
The immediate pride that encompassed him upon hearing he’d made his first provincial team was tempered a little by the realization his friend wasn’t so fortunate, but Porter sounded quite certain in saying Brown “should be on the team next year.”
Following a two-day practice session with the entire squad in St. John’s on Monday and Tuesday, the lone west coaster now feels well-acquainted with his east coast teammates. Forming those friendships was important, he said, as the team aimed to gel before taking on the best bantam-aged clubs in the country.
The Corner Brook Intermediate student, who will be heading to Grade 9 in September, expects to be in the outfield for the provincial team, but believes he’ll see some work on the mound as well.
He feels pitching is the tougher of the two tasks due to the constant pressure to hit the strike zone and not walk any batters. In general, though, he loves how the sport offers the opportunity to have fun with his friends on the field and make the occasional big play with his mitt.
“You try to be the superstar,” he said. “It is a team sport, but it’s an individual sport as well.”
He and his teammates fly out of St. John’s today and open the tournament Thursday morning against Saskatchewan, before battling Nova Scotia later that afternoon. They’ll play five round-robin games in total in the B Division, before the playoff round begins on Saturday night.
Representing his province feels “awesome,” he said, and he’s sure it’ll be a great experience for everyone on the team, no matter what their final win-loss record states. A competitor to the end, however, he doesn’t envision them going all the way to Ontario without trying to make a little noise.
“I’d like to see us win a game or two,” he said.
(All times NT)
10 a.m. — Newfoundland and Labrador vs Saskatchewan
4 p.m. — Newfoundland and Labrador vs Nova Scotia
10 a.m. — Newfoundland and Labrador vs Manitoba
4 p.m. — Newfoundland and Labrador vs Prince Edward Island
1 p.m. — Newfoundland and Labrador vs Alberta