The Brandon Knights may not have qualified to play at the western Canadian Midget AA baseball championship in Swift Current, Sask., from Friday to Sunday, but the team will be represented at the event.
Clark Whelpton, a pitcher and third baseman, has been picked up by the provincial champion Rock Lake Regals for the event. Joining the team for the event is a little bittersweet for the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Brandonite as he would have loved to have his friends play with him instead of players he doesn’t know.
"That was kind of an unfortunate turn of events for us, but it’s always exciting to get picked up and go play ball for the summer," said Whelpton, whose Knights lost the provincial final 2-0 to the Regals. "It’s always nice to represent the province whether it’s with your team or another team from Manitoba. I’m just glad I got an opportunity here."
Although he has played against Rock Lake, which includes players from the Baldur, Cartwright and Mather area, he only knows Baldur’s Reagan Johnson and Portage la Prairie’s Brady Moxham, both of whom Whelpton played with on provincial teams.
He’ll meet the rest on Friday, right before the Regals begin the three-day tournament against the host Swift Current Indians as Whelpton hasn’t practised with the team. He’s been busy with other teams in Brandon, including the Senior AAA Marlins, who will continue their quest for the Manitoba Senior Baseball League championship this weekend without Whelpton.
"That’s really tough, especially with the way the series is going now, 2-2," he said. "That’s really tough. It’s good ball and that’s fun stuff, but you have to pick and choose what you want to do."
The Regals have a solid starting rotation and bullpen that should keep opposing batters at bay. They also have a solid batting lineup, which includes batters in the bottom half of the order who keep finding ways to get on base.
Whelpton, who will also play in the Midget AAA westerns from Aug. 22-24 in Chilliwack, B.C., with the Knights, is excited for the weekend and believes the Regals will make some noise this weekend.
"I like to think we have a decently good shot at this," he said. "It’s unfortunate Brandon’s not going and I felt like we were a strong squad. For them to give us a run and take us down like that, I think these are a lot of good ball players I’m going to be playing with this weekend.
"It’s going to be a lot to take in and hopefully our skill can take us further as we play other provinces."