Badgers fine-tune in 45+ league

Without a league of their own, B.C. women's baseball team preps for national championship as members of local men's +45 league.

It isn’t exactly a league of their own, but the B.C. Badgers are glad to have the opportunity to hone their skills and test their mettle against players with a lot of experience.

When you’re aiming to be the best team in Canadian women’s baseball, you embrace those chances to battle on the diamond as often as possible.

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For the Badgers, that means weekly games against teams in the Lower Mainland Baseball League’s Over-45 Division, and the partnership has benefited both sides.

“For the past two years the LMBA has worked with Baseball B.C. to further the development of female baseball in B.C.,” LMBA commissioner Dan Taylor said in an email. “For the past three years, some individual (women) players have played on men’s teams ... This year, the LMBA added a complete female team to our 45+ division and it has proven a big success for both the women’s program and for our teams.”

Badgers assistant coach Doug Strohan said a main benefit has been the reps the team has received in competitive games. Although the squad has not registered a victory yet, the games give the players chances at honing their skills in preparation for the national championships.

“The biggest thing we come up against when we play in the 45+ games is the experience – most of the men have decades more experience,” said Strohan, who works alongside head coach Ken MacKenzie. “Our focus is in preparing for the nationals and finetuning the little things, like holding baserunners and cutting down the mistakes.”

Strohan, whose own experiences on the diamond include playing in Burnaby with the senior Bulldogs and in New West at Douglas College, said the core of the women’s team – where the ages run from 15 to late-20s – has been together for about six years, with a national gold in 2016 as a highlight.

The roster includes national team members Amanda Asay, Jennifer Gilroy, Pascal Jalbert and former Douglas College player and New West-born Niki Boyd.

Watching former teammate Claire Eccles earn her keep as a member of both UBC’s women’s softball and with the semi-pro Victoria HarbourCats baseball team has only helped put a spotlight on their sport.

“We’re seeing there is a real audience for women’s baseball, that there are a number of them who want to play. We’re always trying to promote the sport – Baseball B.C. is running camps for girls and the turnout has been unreal,” said Strohan.

The Badgers wrap up their 45+ schedule on Wednesday with a game against the defending 45+ champion Vancouver Pirates, 6:30 p.m at Burnaby’s Central Park.

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