Another pair of Bandits players are off to the next level of baseball, signing letters of intent with college teams in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC).
Alli Schroder and Brett Potter announced their intentions last week. Schroder is heading off the Vancouver Island University in the fall, after another season with the Bandits, joining the Mariner’s men’s baseball squad as a right-handed pitcher. Potter will be joining the University of Calgary Dinos as a first baseman.
Schroder, whose pitching mechanics have been described as “flawless,” is making history as the first female player to sign with the Canadian College Baseball Conference
Bandits head coach Paul Mrazek said he connected with the VIU baseball coach in August, at a baseball camp in Oliver where they both coach.
“I asked him how he would feel about a pitcher that throws 81, 82, has a great curveball and change-ball, and throws all her pitches for strikes — and would you take a female. He said I want someone who can pitch, and throw strikes. If she can pitch and compete at that level I’m very interested.”
Schroder who now lives in Castlegar, grew up in Fruitvale. Her baseball history with the Cranbrook Bandit’s was two seasons ago, when she came over from Trail, which found itself without a baseball team in her age group.
“We were lucky to get Alli here,” Mrazek said. “She played her youth baseball in Trail, and developed very well. They do a great job in Trail. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago they didn’t have a team with the older boys in her age group. She reached out to us, asked if we had a spot. We had to get an exemption, through the American Legion teams that we play. She came and played with us, the full season, and she was a huge part of our success that year. Last season she played a few games, and still practices with us.”
Schroder is also a pitcher with the national women’s team and helped Team Canada advance in World Cup qualifiers two summers ago.
“It’s been a goal for some years to play college baseball,” she said, about becoming the first female to play in the CCBC. “I’m excited, but I’ve been asked a lot of things like ‘how’s it feel to be the first girl, and everything. But really, it was the same with the Bandits as it’s going to be with VIU. When I get on the field, I’m a player, and I’ll contribute to the team anyway I can.”
Schroder has been working over the long off-season working on throwing, and working on strength, power and explosiveness. She still comes over to Cranbrook for practices every few weekends.
“I’m doing what I can,” Schroder said. “Coach Paul is training me, and I’ve been in the weight room quite a bit. Obviously, not many facilities available right now with the pandemic. I’m just doing what I can, whether it’s throwing into a net in my garage, or coming over the Cranbrook to use the awesome [new indoor sports] facility you guys have now.”
Schroder interested in working towards a Resource Management Officer Technology. But it’s a pretty competitive program, so right now it looks like Forestry might be the one.
The regular CCBC season starts in the spring — a fairly short season, Schroder adds.
“We’ll have to see what happens, what decisions are being made — season or no season, depending on the pandemic.”
At VIU, Schroder will be joining her Bandits teammate Carter Marlow, who also signed with the Mariners. When the season begins, they will likely be playing against another teammate, Carter White, who is playing College Baseball with the Thompson River University Wolfpack.
Another Cranbrook Bandit, Brett Potter, is signing with the University of Calgary Dinos as a first baseman, his primary position.
Potter, who is graduating from Mt. Baker Secondary School this year, will be following Communications and Media Studies at the U. of C. He has been with the Bandits for three seasons.
“My time with the Bandits has been great,” he said. “I don’t think that they could have done any more to prepare me for college baseball. Especially with Coach Paul Mrazek. I’ve never had a coach as dedicated, not only to the game, but his players’ development. Cranbrook’s very lucky to have a coach like him.”
“I know [the Dinos] are going to be very happy with him,” Mrazek said. “He’s a very good first basemen. We had to move him around the infield, two years ago when we were playing. Slid him over to second, he was comfortable there and made all the plays. Moved him over to shortstop — we had to fill a hole there at that time. He gets it done.
“He’s a tall kid, picks the ball well out of the dirt. It’s nice having a big target to throw to at first base.”
“First base is definitely my favourite position,” Potter said. “I grew up playing that a lot, and I’ve grown to love it. There’ s lots of action, you’re almost in every single play as first baseman.”
While his primary position with Dinos will be first base, Potter is available to play second base, shortstop, and even pitch as well — “viable options at the college level.” He throws right, hits left.
“I want to emphasize how great the Bandits program is, and how the coaches are willing to go the extra mile for their players’ development and the organization as a whole,” Potter said. “I’m really excited to start a new chapter in my baseball career with the U of C.”
Earlier this winter, Bandits players Carter White and Carter Marlow signed with Thompson Rivers University and Vancouver Island University respectively.