The Cascades’ baseball team is back, and ready to compete this season. UFV’s baseball club was started in the 2016-2017 season. The team competes in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). Over the summer, training consisted of a mini-camp in August to help players get fit and ready to play in the fall. The team is coached by Shawn Corness. In an interview, Shawn discussed the upcoming season.
What are some of the challenges that you faced starting a baseball program at UFV?
Some of the challenge in starting the UFV program was the timing of getting the franchise, which was in May of 2015, and with that we had very little time to recruit for September of that year. In saying that, we were lucky enough to have a group of players that had played previously. They would like to be the first to start a brand new university program, so with that started the recruiting process. In the first fall of the program, we ended up bringing in 30 players.
How are you hoping to develop as a new team?
We continue to develop the program through aggressive recruiting across the country, as well as putting quite possibly the best coaching staff in the country together. Pitching coach Kyle Lotzkar was a former first-round draft pick with the Cincinnati Reds. We also have infield coach Wes Darvill, a fifth-round pick with the Chicago Cubs. In addition, newly-added Jordan Lennerton, who was just recently retired from Triple A with the Detroit Tigers.
What are your team’s strengths this season?
Our team’s strength this year will be our pitching staff. However, we are showing big improvements on the offensive side. Our roster this year will be good mix of returning players, with the addition of some top freshman recruits.
Who are the team captain(s)?
Our main captains this year will be Ryan Green and Dylan Emmons. Assisting them will be a six-player leadership group, as well.
What does your season look like?
Our fall schedule runs from September to the third week of October, with primarily inter-squad games every weekend. Our spring season kicks off with a spring training trip to Arizona in late February. Conference season starts the third weekend of March with a 34 game schedule, and the championships begin in May in Kamloops. Last year, in our first championship season, we finished in second place in league play, and third in the championship. I believe we took away from that season the knowledge that, in a short period of time, we were and are ready to compete for the overall championship.
Who is your biggest rivalry team?
Our biggest rival closest to us would be Thompson Rivers University; but overall, I think it will be Prairie Baseball Academy out of Lethbridge.
What is your past experience with baseball and coaching?
I started coaching university baseball 15 years ago with Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and in my second year we won the CCBC Championship. From there, I went on to become the pitching coach and head assistant coach at UBC, and after 10 years I was given the opportunity to start the program at UFV. It has been a great start, and I am excited to be able to coach a young and energetic group of players that have committed to putting UFV on the baseball map.