With the midget AA baseball provincials looming, Jordan McCallum warmed up in fitting fashion Sunday night. He watched 42, the Jackie Robinson story.
“It’s pretty good, so far,” McCallum said during a pause in the film.
Likewise, it’s shaping up to be a memorable season for the Lacombe Dodgers, who host the Tier 1 midget AA provincial championship this weekend at Lacombe and Clive.
It’s so far, so good for the top-ranked Dodgers, whose losses this season can be counted on one hand.
McCallum, Riley Anderson and Stephen Zuk are the Stettler representatives with Lacombe, a select central Alberta club with players from Veteran and Coronation to Rocky Mountain House.
The Stettler connection is most prominent in the infield, where McCallum mans first base, Anderson plays third base and Zuk alternates between shortstop and pitcher.
“If we play as good as we can, and play to our potential, we should definitely have a chance,” said Zuk, 16.
“We’ve played all of them (the other seven provincial opponents) in the regular season.”
Lacombe is in Pool A with South Jasper Place Black, Slave Lake and Olds, which was promoted from Tier 2 for the provincials. That division plays out of Lacombe, beginning Friday, while the other pool’s games are at Clive. Bonnyville, Camrose, Edmonton and St. Albert are in Pool B.
All of Sunday’s playoff games are slated for Lacombe, with the final at 3 p.m. or 5 p.m., depending on whether tiebreakers are needed that morning.
“We’re ranked No. 1, so I think we have a pretty good chance,” said Anderson, 18.
“I think we’re starting to hit a lot better lately. I started to hit better in the Kelowna tournament (two weekends ago).”
For the second straight year, the Dodgers were the silver-medallists in that B.C. tournament, a measuring stick against out-of-province clubs.
McCallum, 17, cautioned that while Lacombe has faced all of the provincial participants already this season, they might deliver even stiffer competition this weekend.
“We’ll be pretty good against all of them, but we’ll also be seeing their best pitchers,” he said.
“We’re a pretty good hitting team. It just takes a while for our bats to come out.”
Zuk said the Dodgers have improved appreciably at the plate in recent weeks.
“Our defence has been pretty good, too.”
The Stettler kids — all of them high school football teammates with the Wildcats — form a big part of the Dodgers’ defence. McCallum and Anderson are cornerstones, while Zuk is a versatile middle infielder whose pitching assignments are usually as a reliever.
“I started out the year playing a lot of second base,” Zuk said. “I’ve played a bit of short lately and a bit of outfield, too. Second or short is good — that would be my favourite.
“I’ve pitched a fair bit, too, usually near the end of the games or in the middle sometimes.”
McCallum’s defensive smarts come naturally. He’s a goaltender in hockey.
“I’m pretty stretchable, so I can reach to get the balls coming to first,” he said with a chuckle.
At bat, McCallum tries to muster singles for a solid on-base percentage.
Anderson is a power-hitter, befitting his imposing stature.
“Yeah, line drives, and the odd one goes over (the fence),” he said.
Anderson graduated this spring from William E. Hay Composite High School, where McCallum and Zuk are bound for Grade 12 this fall.
All three are eligible to return to midget ball next summer, though Anderson would be an overager. That was the case for his older brother, Quade, last season when they were teammates with the Dodgers.
McCallum and Anderson were members of the provincial midget B hockey champion Stettler Legion Blues this past winter, during which Zuk played basketball with the high school Wildcats.
The Dodgers practise each Tuesday night at Lacombe and most Thursday nights at Stettler. The 15-man regional team includes players from Veteran to Rocky Mountain House.
From the eastern end of Highway 12 are Colton Kitt of Veteran and Zeke Leuck, Corey Twa and Trey Zimmer of Coronation.
Also in the mix from the greater Stettler region are Tees residents Landen Knight and Sam Stoupe-Trigg.
DODGERS’ SCHEDULE: Lacombe opens against Slave Lake at 6 p.m. Friday. The Dodgers play twice Saturday — at noon against Olds and at 6 p.m. against South Jasper Place.