The preparations are underway for the Moose Jaw Major AAA All-Stars with just over a week to go before they head off to Ottawa for the Canadian Little League Championship.
On Monday, the team gathered at YaraCentre for a practice and they had some special guest coaches on the field for the workout as Moose Jaw Miller Express players Drew Danzeisen and Ty Russell spent a few hours helping out the team.
“It was really fun, they taught us some really good stuff,” said Cameron O'Reilly. “They worked on my batting stance, it was great.”
The two-hour practice focused on hitting with the two Express players talking to the players about hitting through the ball and getting the proper contact on all pitches – inside and out.
“Just trying to get their hands working, get their mechanics flowing, they're looking pretty good out here,” said Danzeisen, a third-year Miller. “They just had a couple of little things to fix and they've got their swings looking good.”
The Little League squad advanced to nationals a few weeks ago and have been working on getting their game ready for the national stage ever since.
Evan McCubbing says their performance at the plate will be big at nationals.
“We need to hit the ball,” he said. “They were showing me how to stand and how to not put your chest out when you swing, to hit it facing the ball, so it was a lot of help. It will really help us in Ottawa.”
The players spent the entire time getting instruction from Danzeisen and Russell either hitting off a tee or in the batting cage at YaraCentre.
Danzeisen said they were all taking it in. “They were listening, they were a good group,” he said. “When I was younger, it was always fun when the bigger kids came out because they showed us how to do things and it helped us out a lot. It was cool to see older players help us out and we really looked up to them.”
The Major AAA All-Stars will have another week to wait before they travel to Ottawa. Nationals open on Friday, Aug. 7. The players can hardly contain their excitement however.
“It's going to be such an exciting experience,” said Nathan Verjassy.
“All I've been thinking about is what happens if we win, it will be a great experience,” added McCubbing.
Danzeisen added that he was never lucky enough to get a shot at playing for a Little League national championship growing up.
“My Little League wasn't that great, there's a powerhouse little league in (Las) Vegas, Mountain Ridge,” he said.
The local squad will be representing the prairies at nationals. They open up on Saturday, Aug. 8 against Alberta.
To help with the cost of the trip to nationals, the local team is holding a bottle drive on Tuesday night and a Rib & Caesar Night on Thursday at Humpty's. It goes from 4-8:00pm and tickets are $15.