Thursday, May 30, 2013

Opening day starter

Opening day starter Nick Pivetta
The Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Blog has learned that the local boy, Lambrick Park and Victoria Eagles product Nick Pivetta, will get the inaugural start for the Victoria HarbourCats when they take the field against the Kelowna Falcons on opening day next Wednesday.

It looks to be a big week for Pivetta, with the Major League Baseball draft also coming next week on Thursday. The big right-hander is currently the third ranked Junior College (Juco) prospect and number 155 overall (ranked by Baseball America) heading into the draft and is expected to go as high as the third round. While this is outstanding for our local lad, it puts the big question in his lap of either signing and becoming a pro, or keeping his NCAA eligibility (for now, anyway) and remaining a HabourCat. If he does sign with a big league club, he will be yanked away from us to most likely play some sort of affiliated ball.

Whatever happens, Pivetta gives the 'Cats a great chance for an opening day victory with his mid-high 90's fastball and good control of the strike zone. There have been a couple of recent articles on this blog about him that are worth a peek to familiarize yourself with The New Mexico Juco star before he takes to the hill next Wednesday.

And speaking of opening day, it looks to be a good crowd and with a decent forecast for the next week or so, if you don't already have your tickets I'd suggest you go and grab them - unless you fancy the view from the football stadium. No matter where you sit though, it will be great to have ball back in Vic-town!

Only 6 more sleeps...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trial run

Trial run at the RAP - view from 3rd base (home) dugout
The HarbourCats staff took the cover off the car for all to see tonight, as the staff had a dry run hosting a PBL game between the two hometown sides, the Mariners and the Eagles. Much more important than any stadium activities or ball game was the fact that all donations (it was a free event) went to the Zach Downey fund which helps support the Mariner's player who is currently battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Here's to hoping it is a winning battle.

On to the game itself. Well, not really the game, but some random musing about the RAP experience. The 862 fans in attendance did remain dry and I think the sun even came out for about 3.5 minutes near the end of the game. I think that is foreshadowing to indicate we are in for a banner year at the yard. Overall, I liked what I saw. I missed baseball. You can write all you want about it, but when you get to the park, you remember all the little things you missed. Below are just a few observations on my first post-Seal, pre-Harbourcat experience:

  • The outfield fence looks miles better than the old snow fence that was wheeled in for the Seals. There is no blackout behind the pitcher in centrefield (to help the batters pick up the pitch), but not sure if that was just for tonight. It sure would be a good thing to have.
  • There were lots of staff members patrolling the field like a flock of secret service men (or is it a herd?), only they were connected with walkie talkies instead of those cool ear things. With this much of a presence, I can't foresee a situation where there is not someone around to attend to anything that may come up during a game.
  • There were no long lines for food or beer. Granted, it was a cool Tuesday night and Victoria was in a lightweight mood, but I did notice an extra beer stand behind the first base stands and I think that will help.
  • Also on concessions, it was interesting to see a new food choice in the Hungry Rooster perogies wagon. I'm not sure if they will be fast enough to keep up with big crowds, but it's a nice change from hot dogs and popcorn.
  • Harvey was there, but he is a passive dude. He interacts well with the kids though and they really love him so I think my calls for a mascot with attitude will not be answered...but he seems to be a great mascot for the younger crowd (which makes sense).
  • If memory serves me correctly, there is more netting up to protect the fans down the first and third base lines from the laser foul balls and a mouthful of bloody Chiclets. Some people will like it, some will complain about the vision being obscured. This is one thing where you'll never please everyone. I'm neutral on it, and I can deal with a bit of netting.
  • There are speakers mounted (on the first base side only, for some reason?) on the poles holding up these nets and while that is cool for the sound system, it does block the view of a battery member for those unfortunate enough to have to sit right in line with it. It shouldn't be a big deal unless there is a sellout and if that happens, it will be a GOOD problem to solve!
  • The old "convict music" walk up tune made an appearance more than once during the evening (ooooooooooooo yeah) which brought back great memories of T-Mac from the Seals. I don't yet have an opinion of the music selection as I know they were just playing around. I did, however, like the fact that they mixed in an ample amount of country. 
  • The is some sketchy sod behind third base that really needs to firm up. Not sure what it is from or what they can do about it, but it will be a hazard for anyone chasing a foul ball behind third.

All in all, I think we are in for a great season. I'm sure there will be hiccups (read as, long lines for beer on hot summer evenings), but if tonight was any indication, the staff seemed to have everything up and running, just waiting for that first pitch next week.

Only 8 more sleeps!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

HarbourCats sign power-hitter Greg Fettes

The HarbourCats have signed catcher Greg Fettes from the University of Kentucky. The red shirt freshman is a 6-2, 225 lb. power hitter from Madison Heights, Michigan who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 43rd round of the 2011 draft.

Fettes has been Kentucky's backup catcher this year and has posted a .250 batting average with three homers and 9 RBI in 60 at-bats. He has also shown exceptional strike zone judgement, posting a .365 on-base percentage to go along with a solid .483 slugging percentage. Fettes' power is something to behold: He holds the Lamphere High School single-season records for homers (11) and RBI (49) in addition to the career record for homers (27). It's not difficult to understand what the Tigers saw in this young man when they drafted him out of high school.

Fettes played part of last summer in the Northwoods League, the second-best college wood bat league out there. In 29 at-bats with the Willmar Stingers, he hit .138 with a pair of RBI. You can expect Fettes to improve on those numbers significantly this summer and don't be surprised if he is one of the first HarbourCats to deliver a "Pembroke Poke". Of course, he'll have plenty of competition on the team. With guys like Alex Real, Anthony Hermelyn, Chris Lewis, Robby Nesovic and David Schuknecht swinging the bat, it's starting to look like the HarbourCats are assembling their own version of Murderers' Row.

The signing of Fettes wasn't the only recent roster move, as the HarbourCats released catcher Casey Schroeder. Schroeder has been the third-string catcher for the University of Kentucky this season and has only received six at-bats.

  • The University of Oklahoma won the Big 12 Baseball Championship on Sunday and our Anthony Hermelyn played a big part in the Sooners' victory. "Herm" went two-for-three with an RBI in the championship game after driving in a pair of runs the night before to help propel the team into the final. He was also named to the All-Tournament team. The championship win gives Oklahoma an automatic entry in the 64-team NCAA tournament.
  • The NCAA Division I Baseball Championship bracket will be announced on Monday May 27th at 9 AM PST.
  • Cal State Fullerton (home to HarbourCats Bryan Conant and Joe Navilhon) and UCLA (Brett Urabe) will both host one of the 16 Regionals (May 31st to June 3rd).
  • Four teams participate in each Regional with the winner advancing to one of the eight Super Regionals (June 7th-10th). The Super Regionals consist of a best-of-three series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series (June 15th-26th).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Who's on first

Once a WCL roster is put together by forming and fostering relationships with various US college teams and their coaching staffs, the real fun begins. Now it's time to assemble all these puzzle pieces into a cohesive and functional lineup. As opening day gets closer, the college teams finish up their season and even our esteemed HarbourCats coaching staff see to the final duties of their US seasons.

However, some of these teams are just gearing up for the second season as they try and march as deep as they can into the College World Series. This marquee baseball event doesn't wrap up until late June, and with our opening day on June 5 (just 15 more sleeps!), this is sure to cause some logistical issues as WCL teams try to build a roster.

It is expected that maybe a bit more than half of the HarbourCat roster will be there for the first game. To fill the gaps, our managerial and coaching staffs will be very busy signing players to 10-day contracts until the regulars file in after completing their college season. On top of that, there may be more surprises as guys get direction from other sources (agents, parents, doctors, etc.) and this could also influence when/if they report as planned. It all makes for a very difficult situation to manage, but our team will not be unique so it will just be a matter of "dancing with the girls that are at the ball" until the personnel situation stabilizes.

This short-staffed roster is made even more challenging in that the first time the team really gets together is on June 3rd. The coaching staff will get in to Victoria on June 2nd and burn the midnight oil in preparation, but the next day is when they truly meet the players for the first time, give out uniforms and take care of all the other last minute things that need to get done prior to first pitch on June 5th. The team will workout on June 4th - let's call that "Spring Training Day" - and then get at it the very next day. They are home for 11 days and then they hit the road which should be good for team chemistry as they will be together 24x7 as they travel around. Hopefully bonds will start forming and they will really start to get to know each other for this brief summer season.

The 'Cats "permanent" roster has been selected on a position by position basis so when everyone finally does show up, they will have a specific position that they have been earmarked for. The pitching staff is a bit more fluid in that the coaches do not yet have a fixed rotation, an assigned stopper, or long/short relief from the (approx.) 13 pitchers that will be on the staff. They may have a notion, but as the season plays out, you can expect a bit of musical chairs until they can find a combination that works for them. Based on the pitching-heavy experience of our coaching staff though, I feel out pitchers are in very good hands.

College coaches do have some input into how they would like their players handled, but ultimately it is up to the 'Cats staff to fill in the lineup card every night based on the hand they have been dealt this year. That said, keep in mind that the relationships with the colleges are built on trust so I suspect any input is heeded in order to keep a positive relationship with the programs that are lending us our baby 'Cats.

This is very important when it comes to certain pitchers and players who may be nursing some sort of injury. A college coach may request that a pitcher be put on a strict pitch count, say, 65 pitches, once a week. Some may even be on a week by week progressive plan, or a player may be recovering from a sore arm and may be suggested for smaller stints in middle relief, even though they are a true starter. Again, while this is just input, it is wise to accommodate these requests wherever possible to prevent arm abuse, as well as not biting the hand that feeds. This may lead to us seeing strange things, such as a starter pitching a gem and then coming out for no apparent reason. Welcome to the WCL!

Rogers and Miller deciding on opening day lineup
During the college year, there is really not much contact with these players as they are focused on their current season and our coaches are also busy with theirs. There is occasional contact with the coaching staffs though, to monitor how they are doing, and see how they are progressing throughout the year. Now that the 'Cats coach - Dennis Rogers - has his season in the books, he will crank up this contact over the next week or so. Team trainers will be a prime target, again, for checking up on the health of our future players.

Net, your guess is as good as mine as to what our pitching staff will look like, or even who will start
the home opener. All I know is that it will take a bit of figuring out and is sure to make for some lively debate once the season gets going.

As an aside, here is a link to the original "Who's on First"...a classic and very apropos!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

HarbourCanucks corner – May 19th edition

Nick Pivetta (27) and a horde of scouts. Photo by Clayton Jones.
The New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds were eliminated last Monday in the NJCAA Region 5 baseball tournament, bringing Nick Pivetta’s college season to a close. Pivetta went out with a bang the day before, although he ended up the hard-luck loser in a 2-1 decision to Howard College in which the Thunderbirds stranded 16 runners on base. Pivetta gave up seven hits and two earned runs in 8 1/3 strong innings. He walked three and struck out five batters.

Pivetta finished the season with an impressive 9-3 record, 3.25 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He also averaged 2.6 walks per nine innings and 6.0 strikeouts per nine – numbers that justify the attention he has received all season long from MLB scouts. June will be an interesting month for Pivetta: The HarbourCats season kicks off on June 5th and then the MLB draft starts the following day. Given the interested he has attracted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pivetta taken in the third, fourth or fifth round of the draft.

Connor Russell’s VIBI Mariners were also eliminated last weekend after they dropped a 4-3 decision to the University of Calgary in the Canadian College Baseball Conference semi-final game. Russell pitched the tournament opener and picked up the complete-game win against Thompson Rivers University. In seven innings of work, Russell only gave up three hits, one walk and two earned runs. He also struck out six batters. Russell finished the year with a 2.96 ERA in conference games, striking out 54 batters and walking 20 in his 51 2/3 innings on the hill.

Outfielder Austin Russell of the Southern Polytechnic Hornets has been receiving treatment on his injured elbow since returning home to Victoria in early May. He’s expected to be ready to go by Opening Day. Russell finished his season with the Hornets with a .292 batting average and six RBI in 65 at-bats.

  • The HarbourCats have released pitchers Matt Cooper (University of Hawaii), Kevin Behnke (Grand Canyon University) and Andrew Nelson (Cuesta College).
  • The team has signed ace reliever Ty Provencher from the Long Beach State Dirtbags. Provencher has a sparkling 2.08 ERA in 21 relief appearances and has held opponents to a minuscule .193 batting average. The redshirt freshman has also shown exceptional control, walking only five batters in 26 innings pitched. Provencher is the third Dirtbag on the HarbourCats roster (reliever Logan Lombana and second baseman Alex DeGoti are the others).
  • The HarbourCats have also signed left-handed pitcher Clark McKitrick from Linn-Benton Community College. He is the third southpaw on the 12-man pitching staff -- Bryan Conant (Cal State Fullerton) and Will Ballowe (University of Washington) are the others.
  • The HarbourCats roster now stands at 27 players.
  • There are only 16 days remaining until the inaugural game for the Victoria HarbourCats!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Where do these guys come from anyway?

Dennis Rogers - Air Guitar?
Before I jump into the main subject of this post, let me first say that HarbourCats manager Dennis Rogers is "good people". I had the pleasure of talking to him and he was very forthcoming on all of my naive questions. Most of the information below comes from a discussion I was fortunate to have with him late last week. He talked a lot about perspective, having a vision and being well-connected with the players. I can't (yet!) take shots at his managing decisions or call him the Yogi Berra of the Garden City, but I can tell you that first impressions are solid.

Now down to business. I have always been curious as to how this West Coast League (WCL) works in terms of filling rosters, positions, etc. I mean, all the kids are NCAA eligible so they have a limited sweet spot that they can play in this league. As well, if they are on a good team like many of our boys are here, the season overlaps for several weeks as the College World Series fires up until late June. So how do the HarbourCats "acquire" players to build a roster? How do they decide who plays where? How do they come up with a rotation? How do they deal with the College World Series overlap? Who invented liquid soap and why? I won't address all these questions here, but I'll at least begin to try and explain what I have learned.

Starting with the basic player selection process. There is no draft for this league, so it is the organization's job to form relationships with various colleges to essentially "feed" the WCL teams. To be successful here, this takes a while (years) as this is a relationship that is based on a lot of trust and initiated via relationships that are formed over time. Basically, the college programs are letting WCL teams borrow their assets for the summer so they can keep playing, improve, and come back to college better than ever next year. Given the amount of experience that our coaching staff has had in the college ranks, they seem well-connected, which means they were not starting at ground zero when recruiting players for year one. Sure, they still had to pick up the phone and make some cold calls, but reaching out to former players or coaches gives an entry point into these delicate discussions. Over time, if things go well, this can hopefully grow into a link that helps establish a WCL team as a consistent powerhouse, especially if that college is a perennial power (like Cal State Fullerton, for example).

The other aspect is the players themselves. Firstly, it helps to be selective in the colleges that are targeted. Given our situation here - we are Canadian, eh - and going after mostly American kids, or at least kids who live in the Excited States of America, the team keeps an eye out for Canadian talent, West Coast kids or kids who would otherwise presumably assimilate well here. All of this helps to give the player a positive summer experience, and improves the chances of him returning the following year, which of course is helpful to keep a common core and build on things from year to year. The successful WCL franchises like Wenatchee or Corvallis have worked hard to establish a model like this and it shows - 11 of the 16 finalists in WCL history are one of these 2 teams.

One thing not to underestimate is the culture shock of these young US based players who are used to the relative "cathedral" college ballparks in the NCAA. Now they have to potentially cross borders, deal with funny coloured (with a "u"!) money and play in multipurpose (to be kind!) fields. It serves a team well to be careful who they select to increase odds of a positive experience and one that fosters a comfortable presence which will hopefully also mean a fruitful season. So the ideal player would seem to be a low-key, humble, Canadian-born tree-hugger who thinks 15 degrees is a hot day, and - like most other Canadians - has always dreamed of living in the paradise that is Victoria

Being a new team, the 'Cats started behind the eight-ball, in that they announced that they were forming a franchise after these discussions had begun for the 2013 season. This meant that a lot of the marquee talent had already been committed to other teams. So remember fans, it's a journey here and it may take a few years to challenge the AppleSox reign of terror in the WCL standings. You'll notice that a lot of our lads are freshmen, sophomores with even a high school guy sprinkled in for good measure.

Well, that's a start at least. Hopefully you get the main idea of how players are/were selected for our 2013 HarbourCats. Next post, I'll talk a bit about filling specific positions, and dealing with the very short (nonexistent!) training camp, including starting the season with about half a team.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Royal Athletic Park is a ballpark once again

Home of the HarbourCats!
After the Victoria Seals folded in November of 2010, Royal Athletic Park no longer had the look of a ballpark. Sure, there were subtle reminders -- like the video scoreboard in centre field -- to remind passersby of past diamond glories, but long gone were the pitching mounds, bullpens and infield dirt (not to mention the whiff of grilled onions that has long been the trademark of the City of Victoria's concession stands).

Fear not, baseball fans; the Grand Old Dame on Caledonia Street is well on her way to being returned to her former glory -- and then some. The Victoria HarbourCats are just over three weeks away from playing their inaugural game, and the baseball club and city staff have been hard at work for many months to ensure that everything is just right for our new team.

I paid the historic ball yard a long overdue visit this weekend and I was definitely impressed with the transformation. The first thing you notice when entering the park is that the mound, infield dirt and bullpens are all back in place. A groundskeeper who used to work for the San Francisco Giants and is currently employed by the University of Washington was in town recently to help the local field maintenance staff, and the field looks to be in great shape.

Perhaps the biggest change is that the two bullpens have been consolidated into one mega-bullpen down the third base line. One large mound contains four pitching rubbers  --  two for the HarbourCats and two for the visitors. The HarbourCats pitchers will throw towards the backstop, while the visiting hurlers will warm up in the opposite direction. The bullpen catchers for the HarbourCats will be fairly close to third base, so each will need a spotter to protect him from batted balls. All in all, it's a very innovative design that keeps the first base line free of bullpen pitching mounds -- a must for a multi-purpose facility like Royal Athletic Park. A pair of bullpen benches and gates have also been installed down the third base line to remove the need for relievers to be seated on folding chairs in foul territory.

Another difference Victoria baseball fans will notice is that the home team will be occupying the third base dugout. Both the Victoria Seals and Capitals chose the first base dugout to be closer to the clubhouse and its bathroom facilities, but portable toilets will be located beyond the stands on the third base side for use by players during the game. The dugouts themselves have also been spruced up with new paint, hooks above the benches, a cement pad near the entrances and a safety fence.

A new removable home run fence has also been purchased. Sections of the six-foot high fence are on wheels, allowing the fence to be retracted in about 30 minutes at the end of a homestand. The left field portion of the fence will remain up all summer, since it won't interfere with the multi-purpose playing field. Outfield dimensions will likely be 315 feet down the lines, 365 feet in the power alleys and 395 to straight-away centre. The new fence is a huge step up from the flimsy fence used by the Victoria Seals that would occasionally be blown over by a stiff breeze.
Portions of the home run fence

The HarbourCats have also purchased an infield tarp to protect the playing surface (neither the Seals nor the Capitals had one). Although July and August in Victoria usually features impeccable weather, a few games were rained out during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Last summer we experienced "June-uary", so it's good to know that if history repeats itself this year then the chance of a rain out is greatly reduced.

A pair of foul poles (more accurately known as "fair" poles) will also be installed in the near future. The pole on the third base line will be permanently fixed, but the one on the first base line will be removable. Both poles will be significantly higher than the ones previously used at RAP ballgames.

One difference that is not clearly visible at first glance is the infield skin. The dirt portion of the infield is actually a bit narrower than normal to allow deeply-positioned infielders to field the last bounce(s) of a ground ball on the outfield grass. This will allow for a truer bounce and hopefully reduce the number of bad hops. The idea, along with the dual bullpens, is the brainchild of coach Dennis Rogers.

The tarp -- just in case.
As we previously reported on the blog, home plate is now 15 feet closer to the stands. That change will make for a more intimate setting and put the fans even closer to the action (if Golden Baseball League players thought Victoria hecklers were a distraction before, visiting West Coast League teams are in for a treat). To improve sight lines further, a number of metal poles have also been removed from the backstop.

Not everyone is aware of it just yet, but Victoria baseball fans are in for a treat when they come out to the ballpark this summer. There may be a few minor glitches during the first homestand, but I'm convinced that the HarbourCats will deliver a much better product that the Victoria Seals ever did. There will be an improved ballpark, an exciting style of play, future major-leaguers in action, better food and beverage options, shorter lineups, cheaper tickets, and a state-of-the-art ticketing system free of "convenience" charges. What more could a fan ask for? Come on out and see for yourself -- first pitch is in 24 days!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Where the H-Cats and the Antelope play

Brandon Smith
A pair of our HarbourCats have been playing significant roles this spring for the Grand Canyon University (GCU) Antelopes, yet they have somehow still received minimal attention on this blog. It’s time to rectify that situation.

Brandon Smith is a speedy, 6’ 3” outfielder who was drafted out of high school by the Washington Nationals in the 15th round of last June’s MLB draft. The Irvine, California native chose to play NCAA baseball instead of signing with the Nats, and the freshman has gone on to post solid numbers this season. Smith has started 40 of the team’s 50 games, posting a .286 batting average with a homer and 23 RBI in 133 at-bats. He has also swiped 9 bases in 11 attempts, but don’t be surprised to see him post even higher stolen base numbers this summer. Smith stole 21 bases in only 77 at-bats in his senior year of high school.

Kevin Behnke
Kevin Behnke, a right-handed relief pitcher with closer potential, pitched for Mesa Community College before transferring to GCU last fall for his junior year. Although he struggled in his last four games, Behnke still has a decent 3.43 ERA in 17 relief appearances. He has also notched four of the team’s 12 saves and has held opponents to a .266 batting average. The highlight of his season so far has to be being named PacWest Pitcher of Week for March 18-24 after notching three saves in close to 24 hours during a road trip in Hawaii. Behnke played shortstop in high school and has less experience on the mound than many other pitchers his age, but if he can improve his control and cut down on the walks (6 BB/9 IP with the Antelopes) then he could play a prominent role in the HarbourCats’ bullpen.

The Antelopes wrapped up their regular season on May 4th, finishing with a 34-16 record overall and a 26-10 mark in conference play. On Sunday, they will find out if they have qualified for the regionals, which will begin on May 16th. GCU has a good chance at advancing to the six-team tournament after being ranked 5th in the West Region in the most recent NCAA poll.

  • The GCU Antelopes are coached by former Major Leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, who played for the Yankees, Expos, Astros and Diamondbacks in the 1990’s. 
  • Outfielder Austin Russell is back home in Victoria after wrapping up his season with the Southern Polytechnic Hornets.
  • The HarbourCats recently released pitcher Art Vidrio of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, bringing the number of Gauchos on the Victoria squad down to two -- Robby Nesovic and Connor Baits. Vidrio has not appeared in any games this season for the Gauchos. The HarbourCats roster now stands at 28 players.
  • There are only 25 more days until Opening Day for the HarbourCats. If you don’t already have your tickets for the opening series, get them now at

Sunday, May 5, 2013

HarbourCanucks corner - May 5th edition

The VIBI Mariners won three out of four games this weekend against Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and Okanagan College to wrap up their regular season in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). Connor Russell pitched on back-to-back days for the first time this year, and he picked up a win and a save. Russell held the TRU WolfPack to only three hits and one earned run in six innings on Saturday. He walked two and struck out seven batters in that contest. On Sunday, Russell came out of the pen to preserve another victory over the WolfPack, giving up two hits and striking out a pair in two innings of work. He finishes with a 3-2 record and a 3.02 ERA in CCBC conference play. The Mariners are set to take part in the CCBC Tournament May 9-11 in Kamloops.

Nick Pivetta of the New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds may have held Frank Phillips College to four hits and no earned runs in 6 2/3 innings pitched, but his outing wasn't exactly dominant. Pivetta uncharacteristically walked six batters and only fanned three -- his third consecutive sub-par outing (by his remarkably high standards). Pivetta finishes the regular season with a 3.36 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 83 innings on the hill. The Thunderbirds now prepare for the NJCAA Region V Tournament, which will take place May 11-15 in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Austin Russell's Southern Polytechnic Hornets won two of three games this weekend at the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Tournament, but it wasn't enough to extend their season. The Hornets, who finished with a 39-18 record, failed to win an at-large berth in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round. Russell's next action will be in June when he suits up for the HarbourCats. He finished the season with the Hornets with a .292 batting average and six RBI in 65 at-bats.

  • Connor Russell won't be the only VIBI Mariner in the West Coast League this summer. Darren Kolk (Duncan, BC) and Cody Andreychuk (Nanaimo, BC) will both suit up for the Kelowna Falcons.