After winning their first provincial title last season, the Delta Tigers are certainly not sitting back enjoying their championship reign.
The club has come out of the gates strong, posting a 6-1-1 overall record, including 2-0 in league play, as it looks to repeat as B.C. Baseball Association Bantam AAA champions.
"I think we have a good mix of really strong second-year players and first-year players that have shown a lot of potential," said Tigers head coach and manager Cam Frick. "In the past I have only taken two or three firstyear players on the team, but this year we have six guys who really earned their spot and it's exciting to see such a strong group with so many first years not only for this year, but for the future."
Last year's squad featured 12 returning players and only two first-year players. Those two firstyear players have returned and have been named team captains.
Braedy Euerby is the club's top pitcher and shortstop, while Sean Heppner is the starting catcher.
"Last year both of them as first-year players were very committed, had a great work ethic, so that's why they were chosen for the team last year and why they were named captains this year," Frick said. "Their leadership and work ethic has really resonated throughout the team."
Frick said one of the reasons the Bantam AAA program remains strong is a solid feeder system with the Bantam AA and Peewee programs.
"This past fall, my off-season priority was involving as many players into the Tigers program as possible," he said. "We had both a Bantam and Peewee fall team and the goal of that is to get those players involved, show them what the program is like and make sure they are not looking to go elsewhere to play in the future. A lot of our B.C. Minor teams are losing players to the prep league, but that was not an issue for us at all."
Success on the field also helps with attracting top talent, but Frick said there are other factors at play.
"Talking to parents, the big thing for them is our young coaching staff. All of us are in our 20s and it's different for these kids because for most of them it has been their dads coaching them," Frick said. "There is nothing wrong with having parent coaches, but I remember my first time not having a parent coach was my first year playing Bantam AAA in North Delta and it's different, but I loved it. It was a great experience for me. Sometimes having that parent coaching there can be issues like favouring playing time, even if they don't mean to do it. Having an unbiased approach is ideal."
Despite the club's strong start record wise, it might have been better had the weather gods been smiling a bit more.
The Tigers have had 10 rainouts already, including last weekend when rain washed out a tournament in Whalley.
Delta managed to host an exhibition game Sunday against Vancouver, picking up a 3-1 extra inning victory.
"I think we have a deep pitching staff. Five or six guys, even at this early time in the year, that I can trust to throw out there in any situation," said Frick. "Our offence, I was a little worried about, but so far we've showed some promise for sure. We're hitting the ball hard and driving it to all parts of the field against some strong pitching.
"Obviously with the weather it has not been ideal at this point in the season. Early on I would like to be practicing three to four times a week by the early part of March, but it's turned into one or two times with this weather, but everyone is dealing with the same things. Despite all that, I'm happy with our start and just looking to build as the season continues."
Delta hosts Kelowna on Saturday in its second league double-header with games at 1 and 3:30 p.m. at Cromie Park in Ladner.