It might not look like it, but baseball season is right around the corner — and the Quality Foods Parksville Royals will have a lot of returning players.
Having these veterans, according to head coach Dave Wallace, is great on two counts. The first, giving his players the advantage of having a season in the B.C. Premier Baseball League under their belt; and two, the fact that they’re able to consistently recruit and attract players locally.
“It’s been really great to see these last few years,” Wallace said. “The numbers we’ve had out at our winter ball has been excellent. There’s about 35-40 kids out there between the bantam and midget levels. So that speaks volumes to the minor leagues around here, Oceanside Baseball here in town and over in Port Alberni, up in Comox and Courtenay and even in Campbell River.”
Wallace, who will be entering his 21st season with the Royals, is looking forward to getting back out there and enjoying another season of baseball. The Royals are in their third week of winter ball and will run until March 1 at Arbutus Meadows in Nanoose Bay. Once the weather is favourable, the Royals will head outside and will start their season in April.
“It’s always exciting,” Wallace said. “It’s been the same for me every year, because each year it’s a new group of kids and each year they’re just as excited to come out and have some fun on the diamond. For me, that’s what it’s all about, seeing the excitement they have for the game and they get from playing. It makes it that much more enjoyable for myself as a coach to see that and be a part of it all.”
The Royals season didn’t go according to plan but Wallace is optimistic, especially with the amount of returning players from last season’s team.
“I think it’ll be a better season overall for us,” Wallace said. “Last year we had a bit of a tough time, but I think that the experience, along with another good off-season of training for these kids, will go a long way for them this year. I’m expecting to see a lot of them coming back stronger, faster and smarter this season and I think we’re going to be challenging for a playoff spot this year.”
It’s an exciting outlook for the Royals, as the number of local players hoping to play in the BCPBL is growing to the point that there have been players who’ve gone to Nanaimo in hopes of catching on there.
“It just speaks volumes of what’s going on with the leagues around here,” Wallace said. “When you have good numbers of kids coming out and playing, good things happen. It’s just great to see that number of kids and we’re very happy that we’ve got a lot of kids interested in playing at this level.”