By Ned Bekavac
The Guelph Silvercreeks will finally get a breath of fresh air this week.
Or at least they are scheduled to.
The local baseball team has seen the start of its Junior Intercounty Baseball League season get pushed back and they are just now starting to get a taste of the great outdoors.
They’re not alone. A seemingly never-ending winter, followed by recent rainfall, has thrown a wrench into lots of sporting plans as sports fields struggle to get into game shape, leaving teams to stick to indoor training.
Despite the delays, Silvercreeks general manager Jeff Laplaunte says the team, overall, should be in great shape come opening pitch on May 16. And he means that in both an individual and team sense.
“The good thing is a lot of these (Silvercreeks) players have been keeping in shape all year long,” says Laplaunte.
“They’ve shown a lot of dedication by (taking part in) indoor programs,” says the GM.
Take one Aaron Loder, a Guelph CVI grad who played for the Guelph Gryphons this past fall, for example. He has put on 10 to 15 pounds of muscle, Laplaunte says.
And then there is Michael Clouthier (Bishop Macdonell high school), who was OUA Rookie of the Year this past season for the Waterloo Warriors. He is looking rather beastly these days and is following an impressive workout routine, says Laplaunte.
“He shook my hand the other day and almost tore my arm off,” says Laplaunte, with a laugh.
The team is scheduled to face the K-W Panthers in an exhibition game tonight (Thursday) at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Couch Park in Kitchener. On Friday, they’ll play against the Guelph senior Royals in another pre-season tilt.
Opening pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m. at Larry Pearson Park in Guelph.
Laplaunte doesn’t mince words when asked about how the Silvercreeks might be looking heading into the 2014 JIBL season.
“We have a phenomenal team,” he says, before rhyming off a slew of players he expects will contribute hugely to the squad.
“We’re extremely impressed with the team and we have more (players) coming,” said Laplaunte, adding that the team has had to make some “tough cuts” ahead of the 2014 campaign.
Guelph’s season opener is slated for Friday May 16, when they host Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. at Hastings Stadium.
The next day at 2 p.m., they host K-W.
Hastings Stadium, home of the Silvercreeks and Royals, is expected to be open for action on Thursday May 15.
The Royals first home game is scheduled for Monday May 19; they open their 2014 season with a pair of road games.
Hastings has a new and improved infield heading into the 2014 baseball seasons, says Laplaunte.
The Silvercreeks are looking for volunteers for their upcoming 2014 JIBL season. To contact them, visit guelphsilvercreeks.com.