Opening day almost here for Nanaimo’s VIU Mariners baseball club – Vancouver Island Free Daily


Opening day is always special for baseball teams, but this one is even more so.

The Vancouver Island University Mariners baseball club is set to hit the field for the Canadian College Baseball Conference season, and it’s been a while after two straight spring seasons. have been lost due to the pandemic. Coach Nick Salahub says he has third-year players who have never played in a regular-season college baseball game.

“It will be really good for them to go out there and show how much they have improved,” he said. “About half of our team has been around [since before the pandemic] wait and wait and wait and now they are ready to take care of business.

Although players lacked reps, baseball never really stood still. Players have practiced, mingled, and played a full fall ball show season in 2021.

“With the amount of work we are doing, there is no excuse for our players not being ready to go. I don’t think COVID will be an excuse for them not to be where they need to be,” Salahub said. “There are guys who are in their third year with us who, if we had two seasons, they would be in a different position than they are now. So I guess there’s a bit of wiggle room to be given there, with players not quite where they should be development-wise, just because they haven’t had the chance to play.

But when it comes to the mental side of the game, knowing where to be on the field, knowing where throws need to go in different situations, for example, the Mariners will have high expectations.

The M’s think they have what it takes to have a competitive club this year. The defense appears to be a team strength, the pitching staff has depth and experience, and the offense has shown versatility.

Jordan Moffat is the ace on staff and he says VIU’s pitchers are about to cut the steps and continue to “beat the zone.”

On offense, corner outfielder Liam Ballance, outfielder Trent Lawson and first-year shortstop James Joyce should be key contributors, and outfielder Keegan Chard-Hill is another player to watch.

VIU’s first games are against the Victoria Golden Tide, a new CCBC team and a natural island rival for the Mariners.

“I think we’re all very excited,” said Moffat, who will start opening day. “We just have to train the last two years in a row, so we’re ready for some meaningful games to come here and we’re ready.”

Moffat said that in a short season, every game counts, so the M’s will be looking for a good start.

“You don’t want to look too far ahead, you just want to play one game at a time, but certainly early wins really matter in this league,” he said.

The opening day doubleheader will also mark CCBC’s first games at Serauxmen Stadium since Nanaimo City upgrades leading up to Nanaimo NightOwls’ inaugural West Coast League season this summer.

“We’re excited to step onto the pitch with all the improvements that have been made,” Salahub said. “The city has put a lot of money into this to help support baseball in the community as well as the arrival of the NightOwls, so we’re very excited about all the improvements there.”

GAME ON… The Mariners and Golden Tide play Saturday, April 2 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., then play rematches the next day in Victoria. For more information on timetables, Click here.

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