Royals up and running into season

Parksville team host pre-season games over weekend under warm blue skies

Alex Hendra-Brown (above fouling off some high heat on Saturday) from Victoria is one of two more players from outlying areas that have chosen to play for the Parksville Royals this season.

Alex Hendra-Brown (above fouling off some high heat on Saturday) from Victoria is one of two more players from outlying areas that have chosen to play for the Parksville Royals this season.

Parksville’s Quality Foods Royals took to the field for their first pre-season home games on the weekend as they hosted the Nanaimo Pirates on Saturday and the Victoria Eagles Sunday.

Both days were unseasonably sunny and warm, and the players clearly in their element.

“It was good to get out there,” Royals’ perennial skipper Dave Wallace confirmed Sunday night after the dust had settled.

The Royals opened their 2013 preseason the weekend prior in Victoria against the Eagles.

As always, the emphasis on preseason is on the process, not on the scores.

“We change things around a bit,” said Wallace. “They’re not always regular games per say, they’re more scrimmages than anything else and the emphasis is on getting pitchers on the mound and the players in their positions to see how they react, how they respond in game situations.”

On Sunday against the Eagles the two teams played a 14 inning scrimmage instead of a double header.

For those following along at home, the Royals will have a roster of 20 players this year — two less then the league max of 22 and five more than last year — including five Oceanside players: catcher Mackenzie Parlow, along with Grade 12 players  shortstop Justin Dieleman and pitcher Nic Annau, Grade 11 infielder/outfielder Andrew Evernden, and ‘the Coombs Comet’ Grade 10 infielder/pitcher Liam Ballance.

Wallace says the Eagles are expected to be one of the BCPBL frontrunners this season, with a number of standouts, including a 6’5” Grade 11 southpaw on the junior  jational team who Ballance tagged for a standup double Sunday.

Leading the charge for the Royals in hitting on the weekend were two new outfielders: Cam Forbes, a Grade 12 player who makes the commute from White Rock, and Grade 11 Alex Hendra-Brown, a transfer from the Victoria Eagles who Wallace says “is a big strong kid who runs well. He hit a towering long home run against Nanaimo, had a couple of other hits as well and stole some bases.”

“Both those guys had some good hits on the weekend and they’re going to contribute to the Royals this year in a big way,” said Wallace, adding: “We’ve got a lot of young guys on the team this year,” pointing out that with eight Grade 10 players on the roster this season “we’ll probably be one of the youngest teams in the league, but we’ve got a good core group of senior players too, and that’s one of the reasons we’ve kept 20 players. We’ve got an enthusiastic group of Grade 10s, and they’ll face some challenges this year, but they’ll benefit in the long run.”

“A very encouraging start so far,” said Wallace. “We have some things to work on but the enthusiasm and willingness to learn on the part of the kids is great.”

The Royals wrap up their pre-season with four games at the big annual Best of the West baseball tournament  in Kamloops featuring teams from BC and Alberta.

GAME ON:  The Royals open their BCPBL regular season April 13 in Victoria against the Mariners and return the next day, Sunday, to host the Victoria Eagles for a double header. Opening pitch goes 12:30 p.m.

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