Trio of tussles
J.T. McVeigh Photo - St. Joseph's Catholic High School's Paul Stemmler slides into third against Bradford Secondary School during GBSSA action at the Barrie Sports Community Complex. St. Joe's won 7-6 in a seventh inning thriller, Bradford scoring five runs in the final frame before St. Joe's shut them down.
The grass is green, the sun is out, and it's getting warm outside.
But the true sign that high school baseball has officially begun was the scheduled triple-header at the Barrie Sports Community Complex.
The annual event went down on Friday, as Bradford, along with five Barrie schools, were set to take the field.
"It's fun, and the kids get excited for it," said Eastview coach Rob Broley. "It's great planning by Jon Stirtan (of Innisdale), who puts this together, and he does a good job of setting it up and changing it up every year so that all of the schools get a chance to come."
Unfortunately for the teams involved, inclement weather the day before, coupled with the Baycats home opener on Saturday, meant that they had to play the contests at the adjacent field rather than Schmidt and Shaw Stadium (formerly Barrie Metals Stadium).
"There was a little bit of disappointment when I told the boys on the ride over," Broley said. "There's disappointment, but they understand why.
"Any chance they get to play in the big show over there, they love it."
There was a bit of a change to the schedule, since the field they were using didn't have lights, so Innisdale and St. Peter's, like St. Joseph's and Bradford, played an early contest, followed by Bear Creek and Eastview.
That gave Connor Cull a chance to watch his old school, St. Joseph's, before taking the field with his current outfit at Bear Creek.
"Yeah, it was really nice to see St. Joe's beforehand," said Cull, who went there until the end of Grade 11 before starting up at Bear Creek this year.
"I do love the guys on that team, but I'm only rooting for Bear Creek now."
Cull has been a part of the triple-header before, but on Friday, he did so proudly bearing Kodiaks colours.
"Bear Creek is a great school," Cull said. "Nothing against St. Joe's, which is also a good school, but Bear Creek is awesome. I've gotten along with the guys really well here."
Of course, you should always be in a good mood when you get excused from class.
"It's a lot of fun and it's always good to get out of school early," Cull said. "It's a lot of fun to come out here and just be with the guys."
Not even the change of venue could dampen his spirits.
"Wherever we play, we still go out to do our best and have some fun," Cull said.
While Cull has been a part of this before, it was a completely new experience for Eastview Grade 9 student Kevin Wolfenden.
"It's pretty cool to see everybody out here," said the fresh-faced rookie.
Although Wolfenden hadn't yet had an inning in the field heading into Friday, he had high hopes for the triple-header competition.
"I'm excited for it," Wolfenden said. "If I get my first chance, I'll be really happy, and it will be cool to play against all of these guys."
Stepping into the batter's box against a Grade 12 student can be a bit nerve-wracking, though.
"It's a little intimidating because I'm a little smaller, but it's OK," Wolfenden said. "I've faced fast pitchers before."
Having only made the team a few weeks ago, Wolfenden didn't get to join his new teammates during the off-season in pestering their coach to get going on the season already.
But if he's anything like the rest of his squad, he'll be at it next year.
"These guys have been bugging me since about January," said Broley, who coaches volleyball during the fall and winter seasons. "With volleyball not ending until March, you have to calm them down a little bit.
"We're all ballplayers at heart, so it's nice to play a little bit, and you know your time is coming when the grass gets green."