The Vincent Massey Vikings head into the provincial high school baseball championship with the hope they can live up to their hype.
The Vikings, who host the event at Andrews and Brandon fields, come into the three-day tournament as the top seed, and it has been well-earned. Massey went 5-0 in the Prairie West High School Baseball League regular season and lost just one game all season, to W.C. Miller at the Aces’ home tournament earlier in the year.
Massey head coach Faron Asham will gladly take that loss earlier in the year if it means his team can avoid one this weekend.
"We’re quietly confident going in and we know we haven’t played our best baseball yet, so we’re hoping that’s a sign of the future here," he said.
The Vikings have been placed in a preliminary group with the Dauphin Clippers and Otter Nelson River Nikiks from Cross Lake. The top two teams advance to the quarter-finals and Asham isn’t taking anything for granted.
He feels he needs his pitchers at their best, solid defence behind them and key two-out hits to get through the opening round in what he believes is an event anyone can win.
"With regards to parity, this is probably the toughest provincials that I’ve been in in the last five years," he said. "Every single team has a strength and there’s going to be an upset somewhere. You don’t know who you can key in on so you just have to be ready for everybody."
The Virden Golden Bears head into provincials as the second seed, while the Boissevain Broncos are fourth. The field also includes Gladstone’s William Morton Warriors and Pilot Mound Pilots.
The preliminary round runs all day today and wraps up on Friday morning, followed by the quarter-finals in the afternoon. Saturday’s semifinals will take place at Andrews Field at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., followed by the championship game at 4 p.m.
Asham and the Vikings are looking for a better result than last year when they fell in the quarter-finals to the Steinbach Sabres. Massey is also looking forward to the extra pressure of being the top seed.
"We didn’t ask for the number one seed, but we’ll embrace it because it means that our peers and the people who evaluate the teams see us with the potential to win the province, so we’re going to embrace that and hopefully prove the prognosticators correct," Asham said.
If people wander just west of the ball diamonds on Friday and Saturday, they’ll find themselves at the provincial rugby championships at John Reilly Field. The Souris Sabres boys are looking to defend their title as are the Kelvin Clippers girls.
Sisler takes on Souris and Minnedosa plays Kelvin in the girls’ semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m. The boys’ semifinals — Souris versus Sisler and St. Paul’s against Minnedosa — follow at 6:30 p.m.
The girls’ final and bronze-medal games will take place on Saturday at noon. The boys’ medal games follow at 1:30 p.m.
The Neepawa Tigers go into the 12-team provincial tournament, which runs from Friday to Saturday in Altona, as the second seed. They are in the same preliminary round as the 10th-seeded Killarney Raiders. The event also includes Russell’s Major Pratt Trojans and the Ste. Rose Celtics.
The title will be decided on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The Vincent Massey Vikings boys head into Winnipeg as the fifth seed in the eight-team event. They’ll face the Dakota Lancers. Meanwhile, the Neelin Spartans girls go into their event as the eighth seed and will take on the Lancers in their first round match.
The girls’ final is slated for Saturday at 1 p.m., followed by the boys’ final at 3 p.m.