The Cranbrook Bandits ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams have a busy weekend ahead of them and both groups are hoping to see some improvement after recent disappointments.
The ‘A’ team will be at home on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader against the Kalispell Lakers at Confederation field at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m before heading to Whitefish, Montana for a pair of games on Saturday against the Glacier Twins.
In eight American Legion Montana League games this season, the Bandits have a 2-5-1 record and a 7-11-1 record overall.
In four games against Kalispell so far this year, the Bandits have only managed a single win.
At Kalispell’s tournament in late May, the Bandits lost 5-3 to the Lakers in a competitive round-robin game before being thumped 15-0 by them in the championship match.
In their two regular season games last weekend, the Lakers won 14-9 before Cranbrook squeaked out a 10-8 win. The game was the Bandits only win in four road games last week and ‘A’ head coach Paul Mrazek called out their defence and pitching afterwards.
“We’ve got to continue to work on our defence and throwing strikes,” Mrazek said. “Our pitchers are throwing too many balls too high.
“When you throw the ball up at the letters, they’re not swinging. We’ve got to keep the balls down by the knees and below the knees and that’ll get them swinging.”
With familiarity with Kalispell, the Bandits should be able to show improvement. As for the Glacier Twins, while they haven’t faced them yet this year, they will no doubt be another challenge.
“[Glacier] is a strong program and they’ve always been strong, so we need to go and do all three things right,” Mrazek said. “Put the ball in play, make the routine plays, and the pitchers have to throw strikes.”
As for the ‘B’ team, they will be looking to forget a dismal weekend at home against Montana League teams with some games against Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, on the road in Lethbridge.
Against the Bitterroot Red Sox and Mission Valley Mariners ‘B’ teams last week, the team lost four straight games through mercy defeats.
The Bandits are 0-4 against Montana League teams, while they are 8-4 in their other games.
The Lethbridge Lakers ‘B’ team that they will face twice over the coming weekend, beat the Bandits twice at their home Cranbrook tournament in the last weekend of May.
The first game was a narrow 8-7 loss but was followed up by an 11-1 smackdown.
As a new team, the junior Bandits have never faced Medicine Hat.
Despite the recent lopsided losses, Bandits ‘B’ coach Ryan Phillips will stick with the gameplan they’ve been following all year.
“Overall, the level of competition from this [past] weekend to next weekend isn’t going to be much different,” Phillips said. “[We’re] still going to [need to] put more balls in play, be focused and we’re still in experimentation mode and still finding out where everyone’s belonging on the field.”
Following this weekend, the ‘B’ team will not be in action again until June 27, while the ‘A’ team will participate in the Libby Big Bucks tournament from June 23 to 25.