Friends form Ladysmith Pilots hardball squad

The Ladysmith Pilots third baseman Dylan Mckinlay waits for a pitch during a recent game. The team improved its record to 4-0 over the weekend. (Emily Weeks Photo)

A group of friends who grew up on local diamonds are pitching a new men’s hardball team in Ladysmith.

Tyler Armstrong, a 23-year-old Vancouver Island University student, said the idea for a team arose from discussions with Cory Dewar, a friend Armstrong played baseball with from Grade 7.

“We’ve been talking about it for a year, but never pulled the trigger until this year,” said Armstrong, a catcher who played four years with the VIU team. “After graduation from high school, the only options for playing hardball were in Nanaimo and Victoria. A few of us played softball, but that makes you miss hardball even more.”

Although Armstrong did commute to play for a Victoria team for a year, that only added to the motivation to start a team in Ladysmith. “We have a great baseball community here, including a lot of players andcoaches from my dad’s generation,” he said.

“Having something in Ladysmith was a motivating factor, and I knew we had a great pool of talent to draw from.”

Armstrong said they had a good sense of what was needed to put a competitive team together. “It was just a question of getting the players to commit, ” he explained. “We put it out there and everyone bought in right away. It’s been a real team effort, with everyone stepping up with contacts to get the team together.”

The team is playing exhibition games independently through the fall, with an aim toward joining a men’s league in the spring. They currently play Saturday and Sunday games at Dogwood Field, setting up their games week to week. The Pilots won their first two games against the Chemainus District Blue Jays in convincing fashion, by scores of 13-0 and 11-7. They also topped the Mid-Island Sr. Pirates twice this past weekend.

“We hope fans come out to see us,” Armstrong said. “It’s a great brand of baseball. We’re hoping to line up some sponsors to help with travel costs and expenses for the spring league.”

Check out the team’s roster, upcoming schedule and game photos on the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LadysmithPilots.

editor@ladysmithchronicle.com