Sarah Burns Photo
Hinton Minor Ball has seen a couple of changes this season in the hopes to continue building toward years to come.
Hinton is part of a formal league recognized by Baseball Alberta that includes the communities of Jasper, Edson, Whitecourt, Mayerthorpe, Evansburg, Drayton Valley, High Level and Fox Creek, though not all communities have teams in the different age groups.
“Baseball Alberta wants this … the more teams that are involved in a league, the more that are working toward provincials,” said Bryon Bambrick, coach and board member for Hinton Minor Ball.
Hinton has teams entered in the bantam, peewee, mosquitoes and rookie division.
The rookies are nine and under and Bambrick said it’s great that players that young would commit to travel.
“It’s amazing … you can’t hold back the parents and kids from traveling,” Bambrick said.
League action closes out this coming weekend, with the rookies team hosting Fox Creek at 12 pm and then Jasper at 4 pm.
“We are hoping to make it a big day, an event, the rookies are the future of the program,” Bambrick said.
Hinton will not be sending a team to provincials this year, but the goal is to again send squads next year.
Another addition for the ball program is the construction of a batting cage at Gordon Moore Park, something that Bambrick said is important for player development.
“After coaching for 10 years and seeing other venues that had batting cages and just the advantage of getting the rounds of batting in, we were overdue,” said Bambrick, who added that in an hour and a half scrimmage players would get minimal at bats.
“Young players need reps, they need swings. This batting cage will be a big plus for player development.”
Bambrick had several meetings with the Town, both initially for logistics and location and then also to develop a memorandum of understanding.
The batting cage was made possible through the support of some local businesses, and with $5,500 in funding from Baseball Canada and a matching Community Grant through the Town of Hinton.
The cage is up and functional, though Bambrick says that there are a few other small additions he’d like to make in time with his remaining budget.
The cage will be utilized as part of the practice routine and the cage will be open access through the summer, though the pitching machine will be limited to minor ball activity use for the coaches.
“Anybody and everybody can go in there … I think I’ll be leaving the tunnel and netting up through the summer and take it down in the fall,” said Bambrick.